Trump exposed as ‘outer-borough brat’ who spent his presidency ‘intimidated by elites’: book review
Donald Trump / Gage Skidmore

Former President Donald Trump's time coming up in Queens is key to understanding his time in office and beyond.

That argument was made by longtime journalist Joe Klein, who reviewed the new Maggie Haberman book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America in The New York Times.

In 2018, the same year she was part of The New York Times team that received a Pulitzer Prize for investigating Trump, Haberman wrote, "Best roadmap to the president's understanding of executive power is City for Sale, by Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett. Out of print, worth the money to buy."

That book, first published in 1988, only mentioned Trump five times in the index. But Barrett followed up with his 1996 biography Trump: The Deals and the Downfall.

READ MORE: 'It's not a Marxist party': Newsmax host challenges ex-Trump adviser for attacking Democrats

Barrett passed away the day before Trump was inaugurated, but Haberman explored Trump's New York lineage in her new book.

"Haberman’s thesis is that you can’t really understand Donald Trump unless you’re familiar with the steamy, histrionic folkways of New York’s political and construction tribes. She devotes nearly half her book to his life before the presidency," Klein wrote. "Haberman’s Trump is very much a child of Queens, although of an exotic sort — a white Protestant. I, too, am a child of Queens, and Trump’s use of phrases like 'the Blacks' and 'the gays' brings back memories of my grandmother denigrating 'the Irish' who lived next door. Outer-borough bigotry was endemic, but it tended to be casual, not profound. Ethnic street fights were followed by interethnic marriages; they still are. And always, for all of us — and even for a rich kid like Trump — there was the allure of Manhattan, a place far more glamorous than our humble turf. If we could make it there…"

Klein noted Trump bragging about his popularity after being inaugurated and wrote, "but he remained an outer-borough brat, intimidated by elites. As president, he threw tantrums when he thought people were lecturing or talking down to him."

Klein noted two lessons Trump learned from New York.

"One was that the press — especially the tabloids and TV news, and, later, social media — could be overwhelmed by brazen performance art," Klein wrote. "The final New York lesson was, perhaps, the most significant: He learned how to stay one step ahead of the sheriff. This was, and remains, his greatest skill."

Read the full review.