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Wayne Barrett, America's Top Investigative Reporter and Trump Biographer, Dies at 71

"There may be no journalist who knows Trump better than Barrett." —JENNIFER GONNERMAN, The New Yorker


"Trump is a withering portrait of the most self-mythologized and promoted businessman of our era, an exhaustively researched and long-overdue antidote to Trump's own books."

—JAMES B. STEWART, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Den of Thieves

“We are detectives for the people,” esteemed journalist Wayne Barrett replied, when asked by his son’s elementary class what a muckraking reporter does.

For over five decades, Barrett reigned as the supremely incorruptible investigative conscience of New York City journalism. With respect to his legendary coverage of Donald Trump, The New Yorker’s Jennifer Gonnerman said, “There may be no journalist who knows more about Trump than Barrett.”

Barrett, the author of the critically acclaimed Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth—The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention (reganarts.com), died last night at the age of seventy-one.

“Wayne Barrett was astonishing in his ability to uncover the truth. He was unrelenting, utterly incorruptible and never, for one moment, lost track of his goal, which was always to seek and speak the truth and to hold those who abuse their power accountable. We are proud to have published his most important work. Wayne Barrett was a principled journalist, a good man, and his work is an important historical record. He will be missed,” said Regan Arts publisher Judith Regan.


In Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth, Barrett unravels the myth and reveals the truth behind Trump’s manipulation and deceit and how he worked with questionable characters from the mafia and city politics.


Most compellingly, Barrett paints an intimate portrait of Trump, a man he describes as driven by bravado, obsessive self-regard, and an anxious ruthlessness to subdue his rivals and seduce anyone with the power to aid his empire. We see him head to head with powerful political opponents, deal-making with Wall Street masters, his complicated emotional and business relationship with his first wife, Ivana, and the use he planned to make of his mistress—and later, second wife—Marla Maples, as a “southern strategy” in his then-contemplated presidential campaign.

Ultimately, the book is a cautionary tale.

Wayne Barrett (1945–2017) covered New York City politics for the Village Voice for thirty-seven years, and is the author of classic biographies about Rudy Giuliani, Ed Koch, and Donald Trump. He was a Fellow at the Nation Institute, a contributor at Newsweek, and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School.

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