Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump

Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump

by Martha Brockenbrough


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A riveting, meticulously researched, and provocative biography of Donald J. Trump from the author of Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary.

Born into a family of privilege and wealth, he was sent to military school at the age of 13. After an unremarkable academic career, he joined the family business in real estate and built his fortune. His personal brand: sex, money and power. From no-holds-barred reality TV star to unlikely candidate, Donald J. Trump rose to the highest political office: President of the United States of America.

Learn fascinating details about his personal history, including:

-Why Trump’s grandfather left Germany and immigrated to America

-Why Woodie Guthrie wrote a song criticizing Trump’s father

-How Trump’s romance with Ivana began—and ended

-When Trump first declared his interest in running for President

Discover the incredible true story of America’s 45th President: his questionable political and personal conduct, and his unprecedented rise to power.

Richly informed by original research and illustrated throughout with photographs and documents, Unpresidented is a gripping and important read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250308030
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: 12/04/2018
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 227,085
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Multi-talented Martha Brockenbrough draws on her diverse experience in journalism, research, nonfiction, and literary teen fiction for this incisive and thoroughly researched biography of sitting president Donald J. Trump. A powerful storyteller and narrative voice, Martha is the author of Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary; The Game of Love and Death; and Devine Intervention. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

Read an Excerpt



"Certainly has been an interesting 24 hours!" — @realDonaldTrump, October 8, 2016

October 7, 2016. Thirty-two days before Election Day.

DONALD TRUMP SAT IN the conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower in New York while his team worked to get him ready for his second presidential debate against Hillary Clinton. Trump didn't like preparing for debates. He hadn't practiced much for his first one and lost steam after the first half hour. To avoid another disaster, his team was taking another run at it. In the midst of this, the deputy campaign manager's phone rang.

Hope Hicks, the campaign spokesperson, was on the line with bad news.

A Washington Post reporter had called her with a bombshell. He'd sent her a transcript of crude and troubling comments the Republican presidential candidate had made in 2005. The reporter was planning a story and wanted the campaign's comment.

A group of aides huddled in another room, trying to figure out what to do next. First, they decided, they'd show Trump the transcript. But when he glanced at it, he waved it off. "It doesn't sound like something I would say."

By then, the reporter from the Post had sent the campaign the video. Recorded not long after Trump married his third wife, the footage began with a shot of an oversize bus rolling onto a Hollywood production lot. Trump, wearing a live microphone inside the bus, hooted as he caught a glimpse of the actress he was about to meet.

"Yeah, that's her!"

Something rattled; then he said, "I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."

Trump headed down the steps of the bus, joking that he'd better not trip like former President Gerald Ford. After a bit of trouble with the door, he emerged and greeted the actress with a hug, a kiss, and a disclaimer: "Melania said this was okay."

Once he saw the video, Trump agreed the remarks were his, which meant his team had to come up with a response for the press. Coverage was sure to be intense.

Trump's daughter Ivanka, on the verge of tears, wanted her dad to apologize. This did not interest Trump. Along with his aides, Trump crafted a response that was equal parts excuse, apology, and attack on his opponent.

"This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended."

Nonetheless, the story drowned out other major headlines of the day, at least temporarily. And it wasn't as if the breaking news was inconsequential. Two government agencies jointly released a statement saying the US intelligence community was "confident" the Russian government had directed hackers to steal e-mail from American citizens and institutions. An hour later, two thousand potentially damaging e-mails stolen from John Podesta, the chair of Clinton's campaign, appeared online.

Though the e-mails would make headlines in the days to come, there wasn't much coverage of the Kremlin's part in it. For whatever reason, Trump's eleven- year-old hot microphone banter was more interesting to the media than cyber warfare from a foreign government.

Later that night Trump did make the apology Ivanka had urged. He released a video statement on Twitter, bypassing the mainstream media.

"This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended."


October 7, 2016

January 26, 2017. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead.

But damage had been done, and many in Trump's corner worried it was the last straw. It was far from the first.

When he'd launched his campaign at Trump Tower in 2015, he embellished his prepared remarks and suggested Mexico was sending horrible people to the United States: criminals, drug dealers, rapists.

Not long afterward, he argued that a judge who happened to be of Mexican descent would be unfair in the high-profile fraud suit against Trump University, his real-estate education program.

This unusual language shocked even members of his own party. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan called the remarks "the textbook definition of a racist comment ... It is absolutely unacceptable."

But Trump's base of voters did not seem to mind. And they loved his promise to build a "big, beautiful wall" that Mexico would pay for.

His rallies sometimes turned violent, and although Trump claimed he didn't condone this, he also said his people would investigate paying the legal fees of a man who'd been charged with assault after sucker-punching a protestor. Trump even joked about getting away with murder himself at an Iowa rally: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

Trump tested the loyalty of his voters in other ways. Candidates typically don't insult the parents of soldiers who die in combat, but Trump picked a fight with the parents of a Muslim immigrant killed by a car bomb in Iraq. Trump didn't like what the Gold Star family had said about him at the Democratic National Convention. He also claimed that Hillary Clinton's speech writers had probably written the family's remarks, and he implied the mother had been forced to remain silent because of her religion.

This followed a pattern of hostility toward Muslims he'd displayed on the campaign trail, even promising a potentially unconstitutional ban of Muslim immigrants.

Trump also took a shot at Senator John McCain, a Vietnam war hero blasted from the sky by a Russian missile the size of a telephone pole. McCain had been severely injured in the fall, and his captors imprisoned him for five and a half years, torturing him on many occasions.

Trump, who avoided military service altogether, wasn't impressed: "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."

All along, Trump's disregard for political norms astonished observers. But something about the crude remarks about women and the admission that he repeatedly touched them sexually without their consent distressed Republican Party donors and officials. It seemed to corroborate the accusations of at least fifteen women who'd accused Trump of sexual misconduct. What's more, Trump's personal lawyer was in the midst of frantically securing a hush agreement from an adult film star Trump had slept with months after his youngest child was born.

Reince Priebus, the party chairman, suggested Trump had two options after the latest debacle: drop out, or face an epic loss.

That was all Trump needed to hear.

He wasn't going to quit. What's more, he wasn't going to lose.

Donald Trump hated losing more than anything else in the world. His father had raised him to be a tiger, and in his life, Donald Trump had figured out what it took to come out on top, even when defeat looked inevitable. Sometimes, you had to do things other people wouldn't. Sometimes you had to bend or even break the rules. And sometimes, it all came down to how you told the story afterward.

He had a message for Priebus and the rest of the party.

"I'm going to win," he said. "And second, if the Republican Party is going to run away from me then I will take you all down with me. But I'm not going to lose."

"We must not let #CrookedHillary take her CRIMINAL SCHEME into the Oval Office. #DrainTheSwamp"

— @realDonaldTrump, October 28, 2016

October 28, 2016. Eleven days before Election Day.

FOR MORE THAN A YEAR, THE FBI HAD BEEN probing Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server for government business when she was secretary of state. FBI Director James Comey concluded his work in July, calling the e-mail extremely careless but not criminal. He closed the case, largely ending the extensive media coverage of the subject.

But then FBI agents working on a separate investigation involving the disgraced husband of Clinton's top aide made a discovery: more e-mails.

Comey, torn between disclosure and the risk he'd influence the election, let Congress know he was taking another look.

If anything could upend the race in favor of Donald Trump, this was it. The media eagerly jumped back on board. Clinton's e-mail stories — both the ones about her use of a private server for classified material, and the ones about correspondence leaked from the hack on Democratic Party officials — had been their favorites of the year, dwarfing the amount of airtime and ink they spent covering public policy.

Comey, meanwhile, said nothing of another FBI investigation the bureau had launched days after he ended the one into Clinton's e-mails.

This investigation focused on disturbing contacts Trump and his top advisers had with the Russian government. The silence infuriated Democrats and puzzled some who knew exactly what the FBI had found on Trump, which included the sort of salacious material blackmailers loved.

"Our American comeback story begins 11/8/16. Together, we will MAKE AMERICA SAFE & GREAT again for everyone!"

— @realDonaldTrump, November 6, 2016

November 6, 2016. Two days before Election Day

Comey announced there was nothing in the new Clinton e-mails, after all. She would not face criminal charges.

But her lead in the polls had withered to 2.5 points, down from the 7.1-point advantage she had before Comey's October surprise.

Even so, analysts at the influential FiveThirtyEight website predicted Trump had only about a one-in-three chance of winning. Most other pollsters gave him even worse odds.

"I will be watching the election results from Trump Tower in Manhattan with my family and friends. Very exciting!"

— @realDonaldTrump, November 8, 2016

Election Day

ALL MORNING, TRUMP'S TEAM HUDDLED IN THE war room on the fifth floor of Trump Tower. Boxes of fat frosted donuts lined white tables, and workers in black chairs studied computer data and social media while an image of a red, white, and blue Donald Trump looked on, dwarfing the American flag nearby.

When a Fox News reporter stopped by to see how things were going, a campaign spokesman told her he thought they were on the "verge of something historic."

It didn't feel that way to everyone. Trump's endless controversies had filled the Republican National Committee with doubts. Several top staffers were sniffing around TV networks for jobs. Trump himself was figuring out how to parlay his increased fame into a lucrative television network.

Around 5 P.M., Trump's phone rang. It was his daughter and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, calling with bad news. Exit polls, where journalists queried people leaving voting booths, looked grim.

Trump chucked the phone across his bed. "What a waste of time and money."

He broke the news to Melania. "Baby, I'll tell you what, we're not gonna win tonight because the polls have come out."

He planned to give a quick concession speech and get back to his "nice, easy life," where he and three of his adult children — Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric — ran his real estate and branding companies, while Melania focused on his youngest son, Barron. (Another adult daughter, Tiffany, had recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, her father's alma mater.)

Around 9 P.M., Trump left his bedroom and took an elevator down from his apartment to the campaign's war room to watch coverage on the half dozen seventy-five-inch televisions mounted on the wall.

"Hey, geniuses," he said, laying on the sarcasm, "how's this working for us?"

Better than most had predicted, actually.

As the night wore on and the pizza boxes were emptied, the electoral college maps on the big TVs began "bleeding red," as Trump put it.

Although a lot of attention is given to the popular vote, the electoral college is what matters in US presidential elections. Each state chooses people to be electors, receiving a number equal to the numbers of senators and representatives they have in Congress. That means two for each of the two senators per state, plus additional electors equal to the number of seats in the House of Representatives, which is based on population.

As the hours ticked by, crucial battleground states fell, and the electoral votes stacked up. The world watched, astonished at the biggest upset in modern American politics. By 2:30 A.M., as world leaders were starting their day across the Atlantic, Hillary Clinton had conceded. Even though Clinton had received almost 2.9 million more votes than Donald Trump, he had won the presidency.

While his campaign team and children celebrated, Melania reportedly burst into tears. This wasn't what she wanted. It wasn't what he'd promised her, that she need hang on only until Election Day. There would be no return to their easy life.

Not that he'd planned a gracious loss, anyway. Some of his most ardent supporters had threatened a "bloodbath" if Trump lost. Joe Walsh, a former Congressman, tweeted, "On November 9th, if Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket. You in?"

Fear drove the violent rhetoric. Were he not elected, Trump warned, immigrants would flood through open borders and cause unending waves of crime, and terrorists, extremists, and radicals would fill schools and infect communities. Trump also claimed a Clinton presidency would not only risk American lives, it would create a Constitutional crisis, land her in a criminal trial, and destroy America.

"When the people who control the political power in our society can rig investigations," he said, "they can wield absolute power over your life, your economy and your country, and benefit big time from it."

This was the America that Trump predicted if he lost: one where the most powerful person in the land would contrive to live above the law, menace citizens, jeopardize businesses, and subvert American values — all while profiting personally.

Despite Trump's dark musings, the nation had "bled red" for him. The upset stunned much of the nation and the world, but it was happening: Donald Trump would be the forty-fifth president of the United States.



IN SOME WAYS, DONALD Trump's presidency hinged on the stubbornness of a prince in Germany, where Trump's grandfather Friedrich was born March 14, 1868.

His village of Kallstadt, a hamlet in Bavaria's wine region, was known as pig-stomach paradise after a signature dish. Kallstadt sat close to the Rhine River, which was used to ferry goods across Europe before railroads and highways existed. Because of its prime location, its fortunes changed along with invading empires: Romans, Christian crusaders, the French, Austrians, and then Bavarians.

The German Empire swallowed the town when Friedrich was two, which meant once again that an old world was giving way. In this new world, every boy owed the army three years of military service. The alternative was jail.

Friedrich was one of six children. Thin and dark-eyed with a large forehead, he was too sickly to help much in the family vineyard, where the work was arduous and endless, sometimes requiring even Friedrich to work late into the night painting grape leaves with copper sulfate to fight off insects.

When he was eight, his father died from emphysema, a lung disease made worse by inhaling pesticides. The illness impoverished the family, and Friedrich's mother, Katherina, who had young children to care for, scraped along by baking bread for the neighborhood. At fourteen, Friedrich went to Frankenthal to learn a trade. He worked seven days a week as a barber's apprentice. Once he'd mastered the work, he returned home. But the town only had a thousand heads — not enough to make a good living. What's more, Friedrich was now sixteen and he would soon owe his country military service, a debt that could kill him.

The service requirement made it difficult for Kallstadt to keep its citizens. German law also ordered that families pass down their land in equal parcels to their children. While this decree sounded equitable, it meant that children of minor landowners were stuck with parcels too small to eke out a living. There were better opportunities elsewhere, including America, where the new Homestead Act gave 160 acres to people who paid a small filing fee and put in five years' labor on the land.

The town's survival depended on its population, so Kallstadt tried to prevent departures. People bent on escape often pretended they had plans for short excursions. They'd bid their farewells and then retrieve hidden suitcases stuffed with indispensable things.


Excerpted from "Unpresidented"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Martha Brockenbrough.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Donald Trump's Family Tree viii

Foreword x

Chapter 1 The Night America Bled Red 1

Chapter 2 The Accidental American 19

Chapter 3 Trump in Trouble 39

Chapter 4 Manhattan by Storm 51

Chapter 5 Kingdom of Cards 67

Chapter 6 Parting a Sea of Red Ink 91

Chapter 7 The Art of an Image 109

Chapter 8 The Brass Ring 129

Chapter 9 Going Nuclear on Norms 147

Chapter 10 The Russia Connections 165

Chapter 11 Crossfire Hurricane 191

Chapter 12 The Man Who Would Be King 229

Chapter 13 "The Fish Stinks From The Head Down" 257

Chapter 14 A Season of Storms 273

Chapter 15 "I Have Done Nothing Wrong" 293

Donald J. Trump Milestones 326

Trump Presidency Timeline 328

Trump's Campaign Team Key Players 334

Trump's Legal Team 341

Trump's Russia Connections 344

Endnotes 348

Bibliography 402

Index 404

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Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Kimmiepoppins More than 1 year ago
This book is meticulously researched and documented. And it does an incredible job of showing patterns of behavior that span a lifetime. I've read several books examining our current president, but so far, this one has the most comprehensive look at his origin story. Seeing the long game doesn't make it more palatable, but it's definitely easier to understand how we arrived here. I love that Brockenbrough knows young adults are more than capable of thinking critically when provided with FACTS and she gives them. But having said that, this book is for any young adult OR adult reader. No matter who you are, you'll be blown away by how detail meets readability. It's everything you want in a biography and unfortunately, hardly anything you'd ever want in a President.