The Real Deal by George A Sorial and Damian Bates, Broadside Books, £20

EVERY leader, in the end, is reduced to a cliché, or a simplistic image, or a few words - Churchill: World War Two, Thatcher: Milk Snatcher, Blair: Iraq - and the same process has inevitably applied to the 45th president of the United States, only more so, and quicker. A lot of people think they have Donald Trump sussed. Donald Trump on the other hand thinks a lot of people read far too much fake news.

The Real Deal by George A Sorial and Damian Bates is essentially an attempt to take control of that process and readjust, or correct, what the authors see as the misleading parts of Trump’s public image. Both Sorial and Bates have worked in or around the inner circle of the Trump Organisation for many years and, as such, have had the kind of contact with the man-in-charge that most of his detractors have never had. The book is based, in other words, on the theory that your friends know you better than your enemies.

So what have Mr Trump’s friends seen? In many ways, it’s the small details that are the most interesting, perhaps even the most revealing. Donald Trump never drinks alcohol and has never even taken a sip; he’s never smoked either and won’t tolerate anyone doing it in front of him. He drinks a lot of Diet Coke. He doesn’t have a computer on his desk and has printouts of emails handed to him (although we all know he has a phone). And when he flies, he takes two large boxes of magazines with him on every subject imaginable, rips out pages he thinks might be interesting for friends and colleagues and passes them on, sometimes with a presidential post-it note attached.

You may think these are trivial details, but the best biographies don’t tell you what a person is like, they reveal it by what they do. Take the incident with the trees for instance. On a visit to one of his golf courses, Trump noticed someone had chopped some branches off the oak trees along the driveway and blew his top. Or the time he took Sorial and Bates to see Lincoln’s bedroom in the White House and talked about how Lincoln might have felt when his son Willie died in childhood. “The melancholy he suffered as a consequence stayed with him for years,” said Trump. “Can you imagine the pain he was in?”

All of these stories are interesting because they reveal that Donald Trump is both like and unlike his public image. The incident with the trees, and others in the book, reveal he does have a temper – he can explode like Krakatoa, says Sorial, who was executive vice-president of the Trump Organisation for 12 years. But, contrary to how some see his presidency, the book also appears to offer glimpses of an empathetic side and suggests he’s interested in details. His tendency to get involved with the nitty-gritty may also hold the key to his successful campaigning – according to Sorial and Bates, Trump always mixes with the guys on the ground and constantly asks them for their opinions. They talked to him and, in the end, he talked back to them from a podium and they went out and voted for him.

There are other stories that reflect well on the president – the fact that he insisted his children start in real estate at the bottom, learning the basics of plastering and plumbing. The book also deals with most of the major accusations against the president, acknowledging partial truth in some and completely denying others.

The president’s use of Twitter, for instance, does cause concern among those in his inner circles and Sorial says he doesn’t always agree with Trump says on social media. However, on his attitude and approach to women, there’s an outright denial. Sarah Malone, the executive vice-president of Trump’s golf course in Aberdeenshire and the wife of Damian Bates, says he is anything but misogynistic and cites her own rapid promotion as an example.

So what kind of Trump emerges from The Real Deal? The book is aimed at the American market and the exuberant style reflects that, but it’s a legitimate addition to the growing library on the president – after all, his friends deserve a say just as much as his enemies. Some of what they say you will recognise – the phone call with Alex Salmond, for instance, in which one alpha male wrestles with another over the issue of wind farms. But other elements of Trump’s personality will feel new, or at least a new way of looking at a familiar trope. In the end, The Real Deal seems to show that the clichés and popular images of leaders are rarely the full picture. Leaders are often reduced to a few words, but the words are rarely enough.