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American Hero Mass Market Paperback – August 29, 1994


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 397 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 29, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345366638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345366634
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,162,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Beinhart's wacky satirical thriller, Hollywood and the GOP stage the Gulf War in order to salvage George Bush's reelection campaign.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

The creator of the Tony Cassella p.i. stories (Foreign Exchange, etc.) turns to political satire with a breathtakingly nasty premise: Operation Desert Storm was not only staged for TV but was a piece of Hollywood entertainment drafted and choreographed by filmmakers. Joe Broz, of Universal Security (U.Sec.), is offered a perilously off-the-books job by dazzling Hollywood star Maggie Krebs: lay the groundwork for a $750,000 breach-of-contract suit against RepCo, the talent agency that owns both her and hot director John Lincoln Beagle, by finding out the real reason--not the illness the agency's selling- -that Beagle was abruptly pulled off and the project aborted. Hopelessly smitten with Maggie, Joe (``I'm an authentic American hero. Really'') signs on, only to find that U.Sec. is already in the game- -and not kidding around: they've bugged Maggie's place, they're tailing Joe, they're willing to kill Beagle's inoffensive librarian when Joe lures him into a meeting. What kind of movie would justify such fanaticism? A war movie, as we've already realized--a movie whose concept brainsick Machiavellian Lee Atwater drafted on his deathbed as just the ticket to resuscitate George Bush's faltering image. As Bush and Jim Baker trade gorgeously plausible malapropisms (``Talk about nitty-gritty and cutting through to the nuts of the matter. When Lee Atwater is passing, it's hardball''), Joe maneuvers to get the goods on RepCo head David Hartman and U.Sec.'s Melvin Taylor, Joe's boss, so that even if he can't avert the war, he can help Maggie get her hands on that golden parachute. Joe's plots against the totalitarian conspirators wind down to routine melodrama. The real smart bombs here are Beinhart's diabolical vignettes of the totalitarian alliance of the Oval Office and the entertainment industry (``Who are we going to war with?'' ``I don't know. It's just in development''). Think of a left-wing P.J. O'Rourke, or a Stanley Kubrick production of 1984. What a terrific movie this book is never, ever going to make. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There's something about _American Hero_ that pulls at the edges of the reader's mind: you will not turn a page without pausing to think, "Could this really happen? DID this really happen?" I'm a veteran of the Gulf War. I was there. I KNOW what I saw.
And yet...
_American Hero_ is putatively the novel on which the hit film "Wag the Dog" is based. A president intent on reelection, a film producer confronted with the biggest project ever, a war made for the screen. But however much Beinhart's opus depends on the world of film, that paradigm doesn't have enough dimension to capture the essence of _American Hero_ in return. You NEED to read this.
The book is complex, heavily footnoted, and written in such a manner as to prove itself fact or fiction, whichever you prefer to believe. Chances are, you won't KNOW what to believe by time you read the final summation.
Beinhart, whose other work (_You Get What You Pay For_, _Foreign Exchange_ and _No One Rides For Free_, as well as the non-fiction _How to Write a Mystery_) hasn't achieved the popularity it deserves, has delivered a masterpiece.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hirting pd4 on October 31, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love a good conspiracy theory and this is one of the best. This was a very interesting novel. The thought had never crossed my mind that the Persian Gulf War was a false war. This opened my mind to the realization that a fake war could be a reality. Although the book begins with the disclaimer,
This is a work of fiction. Many public figures appear in the text. Their speech and actions as depicted here are figments of the author's imagination except where supported by the public record.
, it appeared that the Larry Beinhart knew what he was talking about, that or he has a really great imagination. I really liked the book because it was about the side of politics that no one ever really sees. The dirty, no holds bar, the ends justify the means, kind of stuff. A life of politics takes a lot of strength and courage. The two timelines that Beinhart used made the story flow better and gave a more "common person" side to it. Overall, I felt it was a great book and I'm off to find the movie version.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read Larry Beinhart's "American Hero" after seeing the Oscars. Wag the Dog looked like such a good and interesting movie, but my mom wouldn't allow me to go (I'm 14). I asked her if I could buy the book and read it, so she agreed, and I read it. It was the best book I have EVER read! I enjoyed the spine-tingling mystery and the suspense which kept me reading way past midnight most nights!! I also thought the way he tied himself into his own book was very clever. I know that the rating for books is up to 5 stars, but I think that "American Hero" deserves more...for creativity (or research)! You figure it out : did Pres. Bush really stage the Gulf War?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bruce P. Barten on April 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I find outrageous humor in so much that is nonfiction that this novel with great footnotes helped to remind me how much I like footnotes in the other books, particularly in history, which have to find a way to deal with all the information that no one could possibly agree with. This novel is much longer than I would like, because when I think of a line that I would like to find to make sure that I am remembering it right, I have a terrible time finding it now. Putting in a favorite joke or two here might spoil it for those who haven't had the pleasure of reading this yet. As far as I am concerned, I liked all the jokes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Gurin on January 6, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In a post 9/11 world, where American innocence crumbled into the dust of the World Trade Center, readers who have finally come to realize what actually transpired that terrible September day may be left shaking in their proverbial boots.

For the answers to more than one lingering question about the events of 9/11, and the Gulf War which preceded it, lay quietly buried between the pages of "American Hero".

Far from being a comedy, albeit prudently couched as political satire, the 1994 book "American Hero", is instead the stuff of nightmares.

The subsequent, quickly rushed into production comedy, "Wag The Dog", released in 1997, appears to have represented an urgent attempt to quickly marginalize the "right between the eyes" impact of "American Hero", the book.

"American Hero", by the extraordinarily prescient Larry Beinhart, is well written, well researched, and remains highly recommended reading.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Booksmart Enterprises, Inc. on August 18, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is a slam-bang masterpiece of political cynicism. But unless you're a collector with a need to own first editions, buy the paperback rather than the hardcover: it adds four chapters that help tie up loose ends and it gives the author a chance to poke fun at himself, among others: "I had written three mysteries with a 'series' character. Although they had -- where the hell are you going to find a writer to refrain from saying this -- great critical success, they had not been nearly as popular as I thought they ought to be. I was in search of the formula for greater commercial success.... I resolved to do two things -- get away from the series and become more centrist. Less humorous. Less cynical. Less thoughtful. Less intelligent."
Readers (and reviewers) who complained that the private-eye thread of this book's dual storyline was merely conventional have missed the point: Beinhart isn't rewriting Mickey Spillane, he's updating Machiavelli.
Beinhart's previous books are also worth seeking out.
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