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Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House [Kindle Edition]

Peter Baker
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In Days of Fire, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, takes us on a gripping and intimate journey through the eight years of the Bush and Cheney administration in a tour-de-force narrative of a dramatic and controversial presidency.

Theirs was the most captivating American political partnership since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger: a bold and untested president and his seasoned, relentless vice president. Confronted by one crisis after another, they struggled to protect the country, remake the world, and define their own relationship along the way. In Days of Fire, Peter Baker chronicles the history of the most consequential presidency in modern times through the prism of its two most compelling characters, capturing the elusive and shifting alliance of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney as no historian has done before. He brings to life with in-the-room immediacy all the drama of an era marked by devastating terror attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and financial collapse.
     The real story of Bush and Cheney is a far more fascinating tale than the familiar suspicion that Cheney was the power behind the throne. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with key players, and thousands of pages of never-released notes, memos, and other internal documents, Baker paints a riveting portrait of a partnership that evolved dramatically over time, from the early days when Bush leaned on Cheney, making him the most influential vice president in history, to their final hours, when the two had grown so far apart they were clashing in the West Wing. Together and separately, they were tested as no other president and vice president have been, first on a bright September morning, an unforgettable “day of fire” just months into the presidency, and on countless days of fire over the course of eight tumultuous years.
     Days of Fire is a monumental and definitive work that will rank with the best of presidential histories. As absorbing as a thriller, it is eye-opening and essential reading.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Baker, the senior White House correspondent for the New York Times, has written an ambitious, engrossing, and often disturbing study of the inner workings, conflicts, and critical policy decisions made during the eight years of Bush and Cheney governance. It is no accident that Baker consistently refers to Bush-Cheney, since Cheney was undoubtedly the most influential and powerful vice president in recent years. Baker’s portrait of him is not flattering. Cheney prided himself as a hard-nosed “tough guy,” to the point of ruthlessness. He fought constantly with other cabinet members, showing little respect or tolerance for their views. He was a conservative true believer with a tendency to ignore facts that got in the way of his view of reality. By the end of their eight years together, even Bush stopped listening to him. Bush is a more sympathetic figure, and Baker sees him as a man trapped by events, whose hopes for a more “modest” foreign policy and a “compassionate conservatism” domestic affairs were frustrated by the vast shadows cast by 9/11. This is a superbly researched, masterful account of eight critical, history-changing years. --Jay Freeman


Praise for Days of Fire

“Filled with enlivening detail and judicious analysis, Days of Fire is the most reliable, comprehensive history of the Bush years yet.”—Jim Kelly, The New York Times

“Mr. Baker, a White House reporter for the New York Times, has pulled off something of a journalistic miracle: He has written a thorough, engaging and fair history on the Bush-Cheney White House, the most polarizing presidency since Johnson's (Andrew, not Lyndon), with the possible exception of the current one.”—Jonathan Karl, The Wall Street Journal

"The story of those eight years would seem far too vast to contain inside a single volume. Yet here that volume is. Peter Baker neither accuses nor excuses. He writes with a measure and balance that seem transported backward in time from some more dispassionate future."—David Frum, New York Times Book Review

“A fine new book about [Bush’s] time in office … The Bush-Cheney era weighs heavily on America. Its divisions and disappointments help to explain much about today’s politics, from public war-weariness to the anti-establishment contempt that seethes among the Republican grassroots and the Tea Party. Insiders have already penned enough don’t-blame-me memoirs and score-settling biographies to dam the Potomac. Mr. Baker concentrates on relations between the two men at the top of the executive branch. His shrewd, meticulous reporting offers a useful corrective to tales of a puppet-master deputy manipulating an inexperienced boss.”—The Economist

“Peter Baker, the intrepid New York Times reporter lately covering his third president of the United States, has achieved the unthinkable—a vivid page-turner on the ultimately divided not-co-presidency of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.”—W. Gardner Selby, Austin American-Statesman

“In producing the first comprehensive narrative history of what will surely remain one of the most controversial presidential administrations in U.S. history, Baker has done yeoman’s service. All subsequent writers dealing with the subject will find his book indispensible … Baker’s conclusion, which will almost certainly stand the test of time, is that Bush is his own man and was responsible for the decisions made in his name.”—Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs 
“Baker offers clear-eyed perspective on the fateful decisions of a decade ago … [A] kaleidoscopic, behind-the-scenes narrative.”—Michael O’Donnell, The Christian Science Monitor
“Magisterial … Baker has done a tremendous job of knitting together the disparate strains of a complex and multilayered narrative. For all its density, the book proceeds at a beach-read velocity that makes it a pleasure to peruse. Especially enjoyable is Baker’s commendable urge to puncture many of the easy myths that still surround the Bush years. Anyone who reads it will come away from this account with their understanding of the period greatly increased—which, after all, is just what a history like this is supposed to accomplish … [A] remarkable achievement.”—Christian Caryl, The National Interest

“A magisterial study of the way [Bush and Cheney] influenced each other, waxing and then waning, during the fateful eight-year presidency of George W. Bush.”—Jamie Stiehm, US News

“[Days of Fire] is steeped in facts, and the writing is clear and crisp. You will also be impressed by Baker’s research and reporting … All told, Days of Fire delves deeply into the Bush-Cheney partnership and offers breathtaking insights into power, passion and politics at the highest levels of our government.”—BookPage

"The complex partnership of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney undergirds this authoritative narrative of their tumultuous eight years in Washington. Baker, the senior White House correspondent for New York Times, skillfully navigates how Bush, a national security neophyte, came to rely heavily on the former Wyoming congressman and secretary of defense, a consummate Washington insider. Although Cheney became one of the most influential vice presidents in American history and grew to relish his Darth Vader reputation, Baker upends the popular perception that Bush did his bidding … Baker delivers a fast-paced read that deftly weaves the trials and tribulations of the Bush presidency into a monumental tale of hubris and missed opportunities for greatness."Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A thorough, objective and surprisingly positive examination of the Bush-Cheney years. Written as though it has the perspective of a century's distance on the events of the last decade, New York Times senior White House correspondent Baker dispatches false and puerile memes—Bush stole Florida, blood for oil, Bush lied and kids died, etc.—to the dustbin of history as he delivers "the most documented history of the Bush-Cheney White House to date." The author is no Bush cheerleader; he shines a pitiless light on the failures of judgment, erroneous intelligence and excessive reliance on subordinates that led to the debacle in Iraq, which undid Bush's second term. Baker concludes that Bush "was at his best when he was cleaning up his worst." The author shows how it all went wrong, however, without a hint of partisan rancor. This briskly written but exhaustively detailed account defies expectations by portraying an administration of intelligent, patriotic adults with necessarily limited information striving to do what they believed was best for the nation in a dangerous era, with real but overlooked achievements. The president, in particular, appears as a man of decency who retained his optimism and dedication to principle as his polls declined to record lows and political allies fled. In delineating the businesslike relationship between Bush and Cheney, Baker refutes the popular notion that Cheney was the dominant figure, though Bush relied heavily on his experience during his first term … A major contribution to the rehabilitation of our 43rd president."Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"An ambitious, engrossing, and often disturbing study of the inner workings, conflicts, and critical policy decisions made during the eight years of Bush and Cheney governance … This is a superbly researched, masterful account of eight critical, history-changing years."Booklist, starred review

"Peter Baker's superb biography of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will stand as the most complete and balanced discussion of the men and their administration for decades. Until the Bush library opens the wealth of papers that will expand our knowledge of their White House, we will be indebted to Baker for his brilliant reconstruction of this presidency. No one has drawn the complicated Bush-Cheney relationship more convincingly than Baker. Anyone eager to understand our current dilemmas does well to read this book."—Robert Dallek, author of Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power 

"Peter Baker tells the story of Bush and Cheney with the precision of a crack reporter and the eye and ear of a novelist. This is perhaps the most consequential pairing of a president and vice president in our history. And Baker captures it all—the triumphs and defeats, the partnership and eventual estrangement. It is a splendid mix of sweeping history and telling anecdotes that will keep you turning the page."—Chris Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday
"It turns out George W. Bush was no puppet, and Dick Cheney no puppet master. Days of Fire takes us inside a relationship that came to define American conflict, peace, and politics. Forget everything else you've read. This excellent book tells us what really happened, from the mouths of the players themselves, and explains why, more than a decade after 9/11, we are still a nation at war."—Gwen Ifill, coanchor of PBS Newshour

"9/11, two long wars, a crushing recession, neo-cons, and turf wars defined the first decade of twenty-first-century American politics. In the middle of it all, the president and his powerful vice-president. The complicated and then contentious relationship between Bush and Cheney is worthy of Shakespeare. Peter Baker’s Days of Fire is a book for every presidential hopeful and every citizen."—Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation

"Without ever surrendering his critical detachment—this book is no valentine—Baker humanizes the leader whose post-Reagan agenda was hijacked by foreign terrorists and Wall Street crooks. You may or may not agree with George W. Bush's actions as president, but by the time you put Days of Fire down, you will understand them, and him, as never before."—Richard Norton Smith, author of Thomas E. Dewey and His Times

Product Details

  • File Size: 9434 KB
  • Print Length: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (October 22, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,983 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Books about the Presidency of George W. Bush generally tend to go in two directions: the more common Bush bashfests, or the less common "Bush was right" tomes. New York Times Chief White House correspondent Peter Baker opts for a more objective analysis of both the Bush Presidency and of Bush the President, and in doing so writes a most interesting accounting of both. Baker's retelling has an added dimension that has never been as carefully considered: the complicated relationship between George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. In doing all of this, Baker dispels several myths and misconceptions and gives the reader a fresh perspective that differs from the George W. Bush seen in the 24 hour news cycles of the last decade.

The first part of the book seems repetitive of stories that have been told before: the controversial 2001 election, the September 11th attacks and the build-up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some readers may think, "Bob Woodward has already written about all of this." But much of Baker's focus is on the relationship between Bush and Cheney, and to a lesser extent, Bush and Karl Rove. Baker demonstrates how, in the early stages of his presidency, Bush relied on Cheney (and to a lesser extent on Rove) for guidance, and how Bush grew in the job to the point where Cheney was relegated almost to the point of irrelevance. According to Baker, stories about Cheney being the puppet-master have no validity.
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113 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MONUMENTAL & DEFINITIVE WORK ON BUSH'S PRESIDENCY! October 25, 2013
Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House by Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, who has an eye and ear on the many goings-on during the Bush administration, is no child's play. A tome of over 800 pages, it is an arduous journey through the turbulent eight years of the Bush presidency, and it is a book which many readers may not read through to the end unless they are staunch supporters or strong critics.

However, this assumption is not based on content but merely on the length of the book. Content is far more fascinating and riveting than most people have painted of the Bush administration. Days of Fire explores their tumultuous relationship, compelling decisions that drive the presidency, the agenda thrust upon them by September 11 terrorist attack and many other aspects.

George Walker Bush was a president many chose to hate. "Mission Accomplished!" will never be erased from memory. But Baker has painted a picture of a presidency whose agenda was hijacked by circumstances that were beyond his control. You may hate or love him but once you read Days of Fire you'll understand his actions and get to know him better as a person. But this book is not just about Bush it is also about Richard Bruce Cheney. And together, they formed a partnership whose decisions impacted American way of life even today.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sympathetic, but still revealing... November 25, 2013
For those of us on this side of the Atlantic, US politics has only a marginal relevance in normal times, especially since the end of the Cold War. But following the atrocity of 9/11, Bush was suddenly thrust on to the world stage in a way he had not anticipated and overnight his pronouncements and actions became as important over here as those of our own leaders – especially since Blair instantly committed the UK to go along with the US wherever Bush might lead them. As a result, the Bush presidency is to me the most interesting of modern times.

In this book, Peter Baker, the Chief White House Correspondent of the New York Times, sets out to examine the relationship between Bush and Vice-President Cheney – an unusual relationship from the start since Cheney made it clear that he had no intention to run for the presidency at any point in the future. The received wisdom back in the early years was that Bush was a bumbling buffoon riding on his father’s achievements; and that Cheney, one of his father’s henchmen, was the power behind the throne – a shadowy and rather machiavellian figure – the puppet-master. Baker’s position is that Cheney’s influence was strong in the early years and that his support after 9/11 was crucial, but that ultimately Bush was his own man even then, and that Cheney’s influence gradually waned as time passed.

Baker’s account is very heavily weighted towards foreign affairs and the 'war on terror', particularly Iraq, presumably because this is the area in which Cheney was most involved. Although domestic policies are discussed from time to time, the coverage of them is nothing like as detailed or insightful.
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65 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive history of a meaningful presidency October 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Baker has taken a complicated interpersonal and political relationship and framed a narrative of a consequential presidency around it. The book reads beautifully and is a truly captivating read. It is rare that an author can write a book this comprehensive about a subject so fraught with political pitfalls and, in the end, the reader cannot tell whether Baker has any personal political slant. This is a must read whether you liked or disliked the Bush-Cheney administration.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at the Bush 43 White House
Fascinating take on the Bush-Cheney White House. Despite being a NY TIMES affiliated writer, I thought the author did a good job of being fair and telling a compelling story of the... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Patrick J. Hogan
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and well-reviewed book on Bush Whitehouse- changed my...
Regardless of your politics, provides a different and balanced view of GW Bush Whitehouse, particularly the relationship between Pres. Bush and VP Cheney. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Bret Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
as advertised
Published 1 month ago by Frank Szabo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a real eye opener
Published 1 month ago by Lee L.Kiesling
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! great insider about the bush administration
Amazing book ! great insider about the bush administration . Highly recommend it !
Published 1 month ago by gerardo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a superb book, well written, balanced, fair. Very enlightening.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars I like this book very much
I like this book very much, but if you are not into politics do not buy it. I would recommend it.
Published 1 month ago by David B
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Well written, informative and very revealing.
Published 2 months ago by Lynne M Papenfuss
4.0 out of 5 stars The book gave me a higher respect for GW's Administration ...
The book gave me a higher respect for GW's Administration than I had. The book was factual and addressed issues directly. Read more
Published 2 months ago by margaret braum
4.0 out of 5 stars Fair and balanced review of the George W. Presidency
fair and balanced, from the New York Times White House reporter
Published 2 months ago by Joel Adams
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