“I Call It Truthful Hyperbole”: The Most Popular Quotes From Trump’s “The Art of the Deal”

The most-highlighted excerpts from Trump’s book take on new meaning, given the way he ran his campaign—and is running America.

“I Call It Truthful Hyperbole”: The Most Popular Quotes From Trump’s “The Art of the Deal”
Photo: Flickr user Tyler Merbler Photo: Flickr user Tyler Merbler

In 1987, Donald Trump published The Art of the Deal, a 402-page book outlining his worldview and strategies for making what he was known for at the time: deals.


Looking back now, of course, we know that Trump might not be as good at deals (or business) as he touted in the book. Since its publication, he’s launched and shuttered a number of companies across a variety of industries, including Trump Mortgage, Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka, Trump magazine, Trump Steaks, luxury travel search engine, and Trump University. His Atlantic City casinos filed for bankruptcy and closed up shop.

The Art of the Deal, which was co-authored by journalist Tony Schwartz (who now maintains he wrote the majority of the book, a claim Trump has disputed), was a hit. It skyrocketed to the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best seller list and stayed there for 48 weeks. During his presidential campaign, Trump called the book one of his proudest accomplishments, and also his second-favorite book behind the Bible.

An audiobook version of The Art of the Deal

Today, you can purchase The Art of the Deal in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and e-book form. The e-book version on Amazon’s Kindle offers an interesting feature: the option to highlight individual passages and view the most-highlighted excerpts, based on other readers’ activity.

We looked at the most-highlighted sections of Trump’s second-favorite book, plumbing them for insights into his presidency. Here they are, in order of popularity:

“The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead. The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you can have. Leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can’t do without.”


Is this why Trump appears unfazed by the failure of the GOP’s long-awaited health care bill?

“That experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you’re generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.”

With an approval rating hovering in the mid-30s, some might argue that Trump should have followed this advice when choosing to run president.

“My leverage came from confirming an impression they were already predisposed to believe.”

“Good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.”


He certainly held fast to that belief during the campaign. And it likely helped him.

“The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”

He hasn’t given up on this habit. He still claims everything he does is the “biggest” or “best” ever.

“You can’t be scared. You do your thing, you hold your ground, you stand up tall, and whatever happens, happens.”

A prelude to his recent “I never lose” comment, in reference to the failed health care bill.


“I believe in spending what you have to. But I also believe in not spending more than you should.”

Perhaps this will help him balance the country’s budget.

“One of the keys to thinking big is total focus. I think of it almost as a controlled neurosis, which is a quality I’ve noticed in many highly successful entrepreneurs. They’re obsessive, they’re driven, they’re single-minded and sometimes they’re almost maniacal, but it’s all channeled into their work. Where other people are paralyzed by neurosis, the people I’m talking about are actually helped by it.”

It remains to be seen if megalomania can produce results in Washington.

“It’s not how many hours you put in, it’s what you get done while you’re working.”


So far, productivity in the Trump Administration has been…mixed.

“Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.”

A justification for all those golf trips?

About the author

Emily is a journalist based in San Francisco.