What “The Art of the Deal” Reveals About Leadership Fairy Tales

2016 might be the year we recognized the impact of an often-derided literary genre: leadership self-help. It dawned on me on a recent visit to the University of Pennsylvania’s bookstore, where an alumnus’s book rested between newer releases on the prime real estate of the best-seller table: Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal. The author — or, more precisely, the protagonist — stared proudly from the cover. “Trump makes one believe for a moment in the American dream again,” read a quote from the book’s New York Times review. I wonder if the Times’s critic, alluding to the half-life of the uplifting advice that remains a staple of the genre, could have imagined that moment stretching this far.

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