New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist, Nina Burleigh, explores Donald Trump’s attitudes toward women by providing in-depth analysis and background on the women who have had the most profound influence on his life—the mother and grandmother who raised him, the wives who lived with him, and the daughter who is poised to inherit it all.
Has any president in the history of the United States had a more fraught relationship with women than Donald Trump? He flagrantly cheated on all three of his wives, brushed off multiple accusations of sexual assault, publicly ogled his eldest daughter, bought the silence of a porn star and a Playmate, and proclaimed his now-infamous seduction technique: “grab ’em by the pussy.”
Golden Handcuffs is a comprehensive and provocative account of the women who have been closest to Trump—his German-immigrant grandmother, Elizabeth, the uncredited founder of the Trump Organization; his Scottish-immigrant mother, Mary, who acquired a taste for wealth as a maid in the Andrew Carnegie mansion; his wives—Ivana, Marla, and Melania (the first and third of whom are immigrants); and his eldest daughter, Ivanka, groomed to take over the Trump brand from a young age. Also examined are Trump’s two older sisters, one of whom is a prominent federal judge; his often-overlooked younger daughter, Tiffany; his female employees; and those he calls “liars”—the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.
Of these women, Burleigh writes, “where they come from and what they do now and in the future matters because they have or have had the ear of the most powerful man on earth.”
President Trump's wives and daughters languish and, occasionally, thrive in luxurious bondage to his ego, according to this gossipy group portrait. Newsweek writer Burleigh focuses on six women of "Trumplandia" and their relationships with the billionaire: his grandmother Elisabeth, from whom Burleigh speculates he got germ phobias and racism; his mother, Mary, who bequeathed him her tacky, extravagant tastes; first wife Ivana, whom he divorced for evolving from glamorous trophy wife to hard-headed businesswoman; second wife Marla, who bridled at the glamorous trophy wife image; current wife Melania, content as a glamorous trophy wife but, Burleigh suggests, humiliated and morose over Trump's womanizing and her awkward first lady role; and daughter Ivanka, who gives a classy, insincere polish to Trump's callous politics. Burleigh's narrative is dishy fun, replete with fashion and decor, fights, sex scandals, Trump's incomparable boorishness (whether he's publicly upbraiding a wife or bragging about his daughter's sexual allure), and wry, catty prose. (She describes a postbreakup Marla "appearing in public shorn, in flat shoes, without makeup, like Joan of Arc heading for the pyre.") Burleigh's amateur psychoanalysis and insinuations that these women have sold their souls to become Trumpian "brand extensions" can seem facile, but her account of life in Trump's gilded cage is entertaining and evocative.