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Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order Hardcover – August 1, 2004

4 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

While numerous books have been written criticizing the policies and practices of the George W. Bush administration, few have been as foreboding about the meaning of those policies and practices as Mark Crispin Miller's Cruel and Unusual. In Bush and company, Miller sees a regime comparable to the most ruthless authoritarian dictatorships of the modern era and warns that Americans, skillfully duped by a corrupt government and a complicit mass media, are blithely accepting the curtailing of their liberties and the eradication of their democracy. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the tremendous fear and insecurity they generated among the American people provided, in Miller's estimation, ample opportunity for Bush and company to move the country to a place where dissent is crushed by force, wars are started on lies, and democratic elections will soon be a thing of the past. Cruel and Unusual makes a compelling case by providing massive amounts of evidence, some concrete and some speculative, although at times the sprawling range of his subject matter harms Miller's attempts to form a cohesive argument. And for someone writing a book about George W. Bush, Miller is awfully preoccupied with the treatment President Bill Clinton received from the press and right-wing activists. Particularly strong, however, are passages related to the build-up to war in Iraq and the discrediting of weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who insisted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Miller provides transcripts from cable news talk shows where administration spokesman attack Ritter with the apparent assistance of like-minded hosts while Ritter himself doggedly defends himself and persistently rejects the main reason given for war. Cruel and Unusual is one of the most energetic and dire criticisms of the Bush administration but its urgency is matched by the crimes it sees being committed. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

In delivering this blunt jeremiad—Bush is "fascistic," "theocratic," a "crook," etc.—Miller (The Bush Dyslexicon) argues that the Bush-era press isn't simply biased, it has been lulled into an Orwellian false consciousness. One of the major examples Miller, a professor of media studies at NYU, offers is the case of Scott Ritter, the former U.N. weapons inspector who insisted before the war that Iraq probably had no unconventional weapons and was treated by TV interviewers like Paula Zahn as a near-stooge for Saddam. For Miller, further elements of the current order include electronic voting machines that he says were used to tilt the 2002 congressional elections and a cabal of Christian Reconstructionists that wants to impose theocracy on America. Miller, sometimes overheatedly, links the "extremist propaganda" of the Christian right to Bush assertions and policies, traces it to groups like the highly secretive Council for National Policy, and presents what he sees as a final agenda: "To such apocalyptic types, the prospect of a ruined earth is no big deal, as long as God can be alleged to go for it." While such arguments are familiar, as is the indignant tone, Miller's thoroughness and clarity in tracking down the sources of the policies he decries, and the ways in which they are disseminated, set the book apart.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 343 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (August 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393059170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393059175
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #694,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Crispin Miller is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. He is the author of several books, including 'Boxed In: The Culture of TV;' 'The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder;' 'Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order' and 'Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform.' He is also the editor of 'Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008.' His essays and articles have appeared in many journals, magazines and newspapers throughout the nation and the world, and he has given countless interviews worldwide.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
First of all, let me lay my cards on the table. I am a social liberal and a registered democrat, thus any conservative heart to heart on this book is lost in my analysis. Although, I did, amazingly, embark upon this book with an, how do I say, open mind to George W. Bush's leadership. To the meat of the review; I found Professor Miller's book on Bush/Cheney's New World Order fascinating and enlightening. I particulary enjoyed the comparison of President Clinton with current President Bush. The outlash against President Clinton, according to Miller, was a bit excess in comparison to the virtual silence of the press concerning G.W.'s unstatesmanlike antics. If Professor Miller is correct in his observations and factual analysis, then I fear for the direction of our great country. I only hope his use of this book is to offer a stump speech to his coalition of liberal backers, more so than it is an accurate account of our time at hand. Unfortunately, I would have to go with the latter. To offer dissent is patriotic; which, according to Professor Miller, G.W. does not tolerate well. Seemingly, Professor Miller is highly accurate in his studies and highly correct in his regurgitations of prominent news articles, albeit the small amount of press that G.W. has generated in his 4 years in office. I would recommend this book to anyone concerned about the direction of our great democracy and the future under George W. Bush or to anyone who would enjoy an excellent structured political argument against Mr. Bush.
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Format: Hardcover
So, do you really need another anti-Bush book in your collection? Even if Kerry had won the election, the answer would be yes. Miller's bleak thesis reaches well beyond George And Dick's Excellent Adventure, into a future of across the board right-wing dominance that we can expect to continue until progressives begin fighting back effectively. The first step is to appreciate just how one-sided the debate is in America today, and although Miller's book can be downright infurating in that respect, it gets the job done.

Miller does a great job of illustrating the distinction between Republican rhetoric about honor, decency and "values" and the reality of 30 years of win-at-all-costs politicking, rife with character assassinations and demagoguery. He also makes a more than convincing case that the media, with its increasingly clear conservative bias, has been complicit in allowing their hypocrisy to succeed for so long. In the most unique part of Miller's assessment, he drives it all home with an analysis of Bill Clinton's record in office and that of his right-wing detractors.

He argues along the way that the right's vilification of Clinton amounted to their projection of their own dark sides onto a politically expedient target. Appropriately, Miller refers to Clinton, the mushy-middle president of reality, and "Clinton," the viciously unethical left-wing radical so often depicted in the media, as two all but completely different entities. Indeed, it is remarkable how many of the false accusations against Clinton have proven to be true of Bush, with no apparent political fallout resulting for the latter; Miller's list is probably incomplete, but it more than makes his point.
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Format: Hardcover
I like the way Mark Crispin Miller writes. I couldn't

put down "The Bush Dyslexicon" after I bought it, and

"Cruel and Unusual" is even better. We have been

inundated, for many good reasons, with anti-Bush books

in the last few years, but a few of them, however

well-intentioned and well-researched, are simply too

maddening to read. I bought "The Best Democracy Money

Can Buy" by Greg Palast and even though he is a great

reporter whose work anyone interested in marginalized

news stories should read, his journalistic style and

the litany of past crimes he details made me feel

helpless and angry and made the book difficult to read

in its entirety. "Cruel and Unusual," however

terrifying its conclusions, is, on the other hand,

empowering. As I read it I felt like I was coming

across my own thoughts and feelings articulated more

powerfully than I might have done. I recommend it to

anyone on the left looking for a book about the whole

picture - civil rights issues, the Iraq war,

terrorism, religion, Bush's personality, as well as

the origins and workings of the mechanisms that

undergird the current administration.

All political books preach to the choir, but only a

few move the choir to sing in such a way that draws

others to the song. This is such a book. Don't try to

get your conservative Republican brother-in-law to

read it. Just buy it yourself, read it, and tell your

conservative Republican brother-in-law the things that

the Bush administration is doing to his country while

betraying his trust.
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Format: Hardcover
Crestfallen over the upcoming election? Bummed out because there's no anti-war candidate to pull the lever for? Feeling . . . disenfranchised?

Cheer up. This new book will make you feel positively giddy about trooping to the polls Nov. 3 and voting Democratic.

With hardly a mention of the disheatening John Kerry, media critic Mark Crispin Miller has penned a book that will fire up your enthusiasm for the dreary Dem--or, for that matter, anyone to the left of the ayatollahs or Jerry Falwell.

Yes, the prospect of a second Bush term is that bad, the NYU professor writes.

"Our unprecedented problem is that Bush & Co. is intent not just on fortifying the presidency, as did, say, FDR," Miller writes. "The regime's goal is to abort American democracy and to impose on the United States another kind of government entirely."

To put it another way: For all his considerable faults, at least John Kerry won't ditch the Constitution.

At a recent booksigning, Miller put the election in perspective: "I'll be happy if we come out of this with the right to free speech and free assembly."

You can't say you weren't warned after reading this compelling book by one of our leading intellectuals.
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