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Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 3, 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, August 3, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If metaphors were cigarettes, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd would be a chain smoker. Through many years and countless columns spent chronicling the fall of George H.W. Bush and the ascension of George W. Bush, Dowd has employed analogies to feudalism, The Godfather, Mini-Me, traditional "mommy" and "daddy" roles, and scores more. In this, her first book, Dowd compiles well over a hundred columns and summarizes the Bush dynasty under a single comprehensive analogy: an alternate universe called Bushworld ("It's their reality. We just live and die in it.") Dowd, who as a reporter was assigned to cover the elder Bush, seems to have a soft spot for the guy even as she describes a president with no plans to do anything but remain president. But she is alarmed by the younger Bush whom she sees surrounding himself with dangerous ideologues and starting a poorly thought-out war with disastrous consequences. Each column is relatively short, and Dowd never shares much new information, but instead offers the kind of informed skeptical perspective that's essential when interpreting the public statements of policymakers. Dowd's cleverness sometimes gets in the way of clarity, and one occasionally wishes she'd quit kidding around and say something substantive, especially since the reader of Bushworld will likely be several years removed from the news that inspired a particular column. Cleverness can be a virtue for a writer as well, getting a laugh while perfectly illustrating a point, such as when she says of the notoriously cloistered W. "All presidents are in a bubble, but the boy king was so insulated he was in a thermos." Or when she says of the Iraq War's aftermath "for the first time in history, Americans are searching for the reasons we went to war after the war is over." --John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Dowd's first collection of op-ed pieces tightly focuses on George W. Bush (aka "W.," "43," "our kinda-sorta chief executive," and "the boy king"). Dowd's 30 years of covering Washington politics enable her to start her trajectory with "Poppy" Bush packing up after his one-term presidency while sons Jeb and W. run for governor of Florida and Texas, respectively. Soon listeners are propelled into the messy Gore/Bush election of 2000 (between "the insufferable and the insufficient"), the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War, which Dowd sees as a way for Bush Jr. to settle old scores with "Poppy's" Gulf War foe Saddam. Mazur's nimble narration is assured. She never stumbles over the tongue-twisting foreign names and locations, and she underplays Dowd's tart observations with a deadpan delivery. Dowd's "Grilled Over Rats" essay on a GOP anti-Gore ad that supposedly used subliminal messages originally ran with specific words in bold, creating its own subliminal message. On CD, the essay is read twice—the second time reading only the highlighted words. Penguin's spare packaging extends to the discs themselves. All essays begin with a new track, but without a title listing on disc or package, locating a specific essay among 144 pieces can prove frustrating.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group; 1st ptg edition (August 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039915258X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399152580
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,586,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am probably one of the few people reviewing this book who hadn't read many of Ms. Dowd's columns before reading the book. That being said, I found the book to be a nice surprise on at least two levels. First, the facts it filled in for me about what goes on and has gone on for generations in the Bush family were way more valuable to me than the clever nicknames (41, 43) that peppered the text. Second, her unique style, from which said nicknames derived, allowed her to talk about the history of the Bush family in a both a humorous and forlorn manner that few writers could pull off.

The only reason why I didn't give it five stars is that I found myself when I finished the book thinking, "That was intriguing... funny... but now what?" It was, in the end, an interesting spectacle, but did she write it for anything else other than to make clever jokes? After all, she made fun of Gore and Clinton, and Reagan, etc. etc. etc. too. Is there anything she doesn't turn a cynical eye toward? One of earliest sentences in the book says it all. "It's their reality. We just live and die in it." Is she really making an anti-Bush statement, or is she just making fun of a "current President?" The book is humorous, but it's unlikely to move liberals to social action. If it's really already Bush's reality, after all, what's the point?
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Format: Hardcover
I believe that H.L. Mencken once spoke of some class of persons who could not push a noun and verb together without blowing something up. In that spirit, Maureen Dowd presents "Bush World". To the most protective of Bush supporters, Dowd is a bomb thrower. To anti-Bush partisans, Dowd's book is the Fourth of July. To those in the middle, "Bush World" is a rumble to be investigated.

In "Bush World", Dowd compiles her columns in the New York Times since Bush appeared on the national stage. Dowd writes with a cleverness that can be just a hazy memory to, well, a certain radio talk-show host who had conditioned his hard-core base to confuse scorn for wit. Dowd is not like that; this book is the real thing.

These colums are quite critical of the Bush administration's actions and practices. Some people might find this compilation too negative. However, another Mencken quotation comes to mind: "Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed."

You don't have to agree with what Dowd writes, in whole or in part, to value this book. I have listened to very conservative commentators whom I strongly disagreed with, and I appreciate them when they are clever or interesting. I expect my fellow citizens to the right-of-center likewise enjoy a differing viewpoint well put. Maureen Dowd is, at least, very clever and interesting. Nor did I agree with everything Dowd wrote in "Bush World". For example, several times Dowd characterizes Dick Cheney's world-view as "Hobbesian". So, what's wrong with Thomas Hobbes, who famously wrote, "[The state of nature consists of] . . . continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"?
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Format: Hardcover
Dowd's writing is spectacular. . . ! You needn't be an ardent Democrat to appreciate Maureen Dowd's wit and biting sarcasm as she takes shot after shot at how the president has handled the situation in Iraq (and everything else about his personality and character--or lack thereof). I have been faithfully reading her New York Times columns for years now, and whether or not I agree with her point of view is irrelevant--quite simply, she is as good a writer as America has produced in the last 25 years in any genre. I have used a number of her columns as essay prompts for my juniors in our American Literature class. She is the best at what she does and has deserved a couple more Pulitzers since 1999. Find the puns, the word play, and witticisms, and enjoy them, keeping in mind that she took similar shots twice a week during Clinton's run at impeachment. She can make you laugh out loud with humor in one line, then cringe from a biting barb in the next. Forget your voting record, the daily poll numbers, and/or your decision in November's election. Just enjoy the writing!!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Maureen Dowd is no Paul Krugman, the Princeton economist turned political editorialist working alongside her at the New York Times. Whereas Krugman makes a point of meticulous research and august professionalism in both his tone and content, Dowd specializes in what is basically pop political commentary in the McNews era. Where Krugman uses statistics and verifiable facts, Dowd more often relies on improvised metaphors, puns, and quasi-hip pop-culture references.

The result is that Dowd's work is easier to fly through, whereas Krugman's takes a little more effort but is ultimately more rewarding. In her constant attempts at light-hearted and jaded humor, Dowd sometimes comes off as rather flaky...but where she doesn't hit the bullseye, she usually comes pretty close in the vicinity and that is her main credit.

In "Bushworld," she zeroes in on what most Americans already know or increasingly suspect: that Bush Jr. is a hopelessly provincial, empty-headed and simplistic straw man who likes to pose as the Marlboro Man while being manipulated by Machiavellian advisors like Karl Rove and the whole pathologically deluded entourage who got us into this Iraq quagmire, now known as the "neocons" as well as the extreme religous right who in exchange for electoral support now get to write 90% of Bush's social policy positions.

It's a sad, mad, and dangerous situation which in some ways perfectly suits the often desperate attempts at humor and hip detachment to which Dowd, as a powerless spectator like most of us, resorts.

For readers who would prefer a snappier, crackle-and-pop style of writing about this hijacked, half-elected White House, Dowd's book is a fine messenger.
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