In 2018, political tell-all books are publishing faster than most readers can keep up. Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury roared out of the gate in January, inciting a flurry of missives about President Trump and his associates. Next on the docket is Born Trump: Inside America’s First Family, a dishy inside look at the COPOTUS (that is, the children of POTUS).
The book comes from Emily Jane Fox, a reporter for Vanity Fair’s The Hive, who spent the better part of a year following Ivanka Trump and her siblings before signing a highly anticipated book deal. Fox spoke to more than 150 of the elder Trump children’s friends, business associates, and former classmates to put together an intimate portrait of the people America thought they knew.
The result is both entertaining and eye-opening, serving up never-before-heard stories on everything from the Trump kids’ college fraternity hijinks to a massive blowout fight on the top of Aspen Mountain that could only be described as Housewives-ian. You can purchase a copy here, and study up on everything you should know below.
None of the family expected Trump to win the election
This is a narrative that has been told countless times, but Born Trump reiterates it from the point of view of the Trump children and everything they had planned for Nov. 9, 2016 — which of course had to be thrown out the window. Ivanka Trump had planned on getting back to work at her fashion brand the next day. Her husband, Jared Kushner, had his eyes set on a reputation-recovery tour, convincing current and potential business partners that they should disassociate themselves from the campaign. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump were brainstorming a lower-priced chain of hotels to appeal to the Trump voters they’d met on the campaign trail. And Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, would be able to return to her school drop-off routine with Barron Trump, without Secret Service agents disrupting the entire neighborhood (and angering the other parents).
Ivanka’s book release was a ‘bloodbath’ for the publishers
When Trump’s eldest daughter sold her book to Portfolio, the publisher signed on believing it would be marketing a “liberal-leaning C-list celebrity version of a career book.” None of the executives at the company had any inkling that her father would make it past the status of a fringe candidate, much less that Ivanka would become a member of his administration. By the time Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success hit shelves, Ivanka had announced her official role working for the White House and was thus barred from doing any press. The reviews were subpar, and an executive told Fox, “She didn’t ruin the year, but it was a bloodbath.”
Ivana Trump once tried to order Chablis at Taco Bell
When Don Jr. moved away to boarding school (at the Hill School in rural Pennsylvania), he was immediately embarrassed about a potentially ostentatious show of wealth — the family arrived in a limo — so he suggested dinner off-campus. The only place around was, of course, the home of the chalupa, where his mother, Ivana Trump, tried to get a chilled glass of white with her tacos. But really, who can blame her?
Ivanka flies coach (sometimes)
She may have grown up in a golden castle, but apparently Ivanka also knows the value of a good deal. Or rather, her husband knows the value of a good deal and Ivanka doesn’t argue. According to the book, the extended Kushner family regularly hops aboard JetBlue en route to vacations — sure, they supplement those flights with private jets when necessary, and there’s even an entertaining anecdote about a trip early into Jared and Ivanka’s relationship in which she was spotted in business class while he sat in coach, but it’s still more commercial flights than most celebrities (or billionaires, for that matter) take.
Ivana only invited a half-dozen people to her wedding to Donald
Just for comparison purposes, the entire guest list totaled over 600 people — Trump and his secretary took care of the rest of the names.
Marla Maples spent a summer on a Trump yacht while Donald was still married to Ivana
“Open secret” is far too covert a description for the Donald-Ivana-Marla love triangle — the drama-filled divorce proceedings are practically lore by now — but seeing the explicit contents pointed out in fine detail makes for an entirely different reading experience. One fact that Born Trump focuses on is the purchase of the Trump Princess, a 280-foot yacht that boasted a helicopter pad, 100 cabins, and five decks. The future POTUS purchased it ostensibly to have someplace to house his then-mistress: According to Fox, Maples spent much of the summer of 1989 aboard the yacht, leaving only when Ivanka was due to fly in.
Donald brought both his wife and mistress on a Christmas vacation — without telling Ivanka
The Trumps, like many monied families, were regulars in Aspen, and over the 1989 holiday season the group was a little bit bigger than usual. As Fox tells it, Ivana and the kids were staying at a local luxury hotel, and Marla was staying at a nearby apartment building. According to many bystanders, everything came to a head during an aprés-ski session at a hot-spot bar, with Marla and Ivana confronting each other in front of the crowds — yelling included.
Ivanka’s friends think she’ll run for president one day
Through all the interviews of Ivanka’s close associates, one theme runs rampant in Born Trump: her preternatural ability to spin a message, an eye for business opportunities, and a high level of comfort in the spotlight. All of which seem to point toward the biggest job in town. Those quoted (anonymously, of course) in the book all saw her move to Washington, D.C., as a sign of the inevitable future.
Donald used to send Ivanka newspaper articles about himself while she was at boarding school
Anyone reading Born Trump will quickly come to the same realization that Fox did: The Trumps were basically absentee parents. Ivana and Donald preferred to hire expensive nannies and drivers to deal with their children rather than doing the legwork themselves, and that trend continued once Ivanka went off to Choate, in rural Connecticut. Donald didn’t visit her often and called even less, but he did make time to send her mail a few times a week — mail that usually consisted of newspaper clippings about him.
Jared and Ivanka’s relationship started as a business arrangement
The marriage of “Javanka” was a bit of a melding of love and business: According to Fox, they care for each other and mutually benefit (financially, that is) from their partnership. Back before they were even an official couple, they were set up by a mutual friend who owned a diamond company and was looking to do a deal with both of them.
The entire Kushner family wears Ivanka-branded shoes
They’re collectively worth more than $1 billion, yet according to mutual friends, Jared’s relatives aren’t going to turn down the family discount.
Don Jr. went all out in college
DJTJ attend University of Pennsylvania, where, by the accounts in Born Trump, he took every opportunity to live out his own version of Animal House. He did spring break, he rushed a fraternity, he participated in hazing rituals several years in a row just because they were fun, and he even had a habit of curling up in the wrong bed at the end of the night.
The Trumps didn’t visit Eric once at boarding school
Donald and Ivana were there to drop the youngest sibling off at the Hill School and didn’t return until graduation. And even for that occasion, only his father was present — Ivana was touring the South of France aboard her eponymous yacht.