Michael Wolff’s new tell-all about Donald Trump, Fire and Fury, came on the market this past week, and the public has already bought massive quantities of it. The book will surely be the number-one bestseller when all the votes are in next week.
At least part of the success is due to President Trump’s declaration that if Henry Holt & Co. did publish this book, he will sue to have it banned. He said this last week, when the publication date would have been the next week, January 12. After that, they moved the publication date up a week. Trump’s threat is good for sales.
The essence of Wolff’s book is that Donald Trump is not capable of being President of the United States. Wolff gives many examples of it, and says he spent three hours altogether with Mr. Trump, gathering material directly from him. Trump of course denies he ever let Wolff near him.
This is not the first tell-all about Donald Trump, though. Another author at another time published a tell-all about Donald Trump. In 1993, local Hamptonite, TV personality and author Harry Hurt III wrote Lost Tycoon. Trump was nearly bankrupt at the time, just a bombastic and flawed real estate tycoon who was floundering.
Here’s part of a review of Lost Tycoon from the Los Angeles Times, including two quotes in that review excerpted from the book:
“To hear Hurt tell it,” reviewer Jonathan Kirsch wrote, “Trump was famous for being famous—and that’s about all. He comes across as a kind of fourth-rate Howard Hughes, a pathetic figure who postured and preened for the media but ended up as a parody of himself.”
One of the quotes excerpted in the review reads, “‘How can you say you love us?’ his son screamed at him when Trump and Maples showed up at a rock concert. ‘You just love your money!’”
“According to Hurt,” Kirsch continues, “Trump cut a sorry figure as a jet-setter and a deal-maker. He sailed only once aboard his luxury yacht, the Trump Princess, because he was unnerved by the sounds of weighing anchor. He once tried to antagonize a business rival by spreading rumors that the man’s wife was seeking to have an affair with Trump. And, on a trip to Japan to watch the Mike Tyson–Buster Douglas fight, Trump was crushed to discover that the fans and reporters who met his airplane were only there because he had planted the (false) story that Michael Jackson was traveling with his entourage.
“‘Call the emperor,’ the spurned Trump told one of his aides. ‘Tell him I want to see him.’”
Lost Tycoon is out of print today. In the summer of 2016, when Trump was still on the campaign trail, it was suggested to W.W. Norton that they release further printings of Lost Tycoon, but Norton declined to do so. According to The New York Post, they told Hurt that they were afraid Trump would sue them if they did that. To put an exclamation point on this, they returned the rights to the book to Hurt without his even asking. So it continues out of print, although you can sometimes find a copy of it on eBay or Amazon.
I wonder what Harry Hurt III thinks of Michael Wolff’s new book today. When a tycoon on the rocks threatens to sue, you take it seriously. When a sitting President threatens to sue, it reads as an attack on the First Amendment and a reason to sell even more books.
In the end, though, we know Trump. It was symbolized by the full-size cardboard Trump greeting people at events promoting his Trump University. We know how Trump operates, in office and out. He finally reimbursed those who filed lawsuits related to Trump University—$25 million I think it was, paid out when he was President-elect. Surely he would not have done so if not urged by his lawyers. He would have just stuck those folks—too bad for them. But now good for his image to be done with it.
Will Hurt re-publish Lost Tycoon? Can he?