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Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics Paperback – October 7, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With this provocative book, Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer and author of A Tragic Legacy and How Would a Patriot Act, purports to expose the rank myth-making and exploitation of cultural, gender and psychological themes by the Republican Party. The author begins his attack by targeting John Wayne, whom he sees as a template for right-wing notions of American courage and conservative manliness. Wayne's avoidance of military service and his string of divorces, both at odds with his public image, are emblematic in this account of a fundamental hypocrisy implicit in conservative mythologies. Greenwald goes on to argue that prominent Republicans from Ronald Reagan to Mitt Romney display the same hypocrisy in their public ideologies and personal lives. Shouldering much of the blame are the press and the media, including Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter, Chris Matthews and even Maureen Dowd, all of whom propagate popular attitudes about virile Republicans and effeminate Democrats. Despite the antipathy the author feels for Coulter, his writing is much like hers. More a partisan screed than a reasoned argument meant to persuade undecided readers, this repetitive text frequently devolves into personal attacks and vast generalizations. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"The best book I've read on how the media works since Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. . . .If you want to understand how politics and the media work today, how the Republican party has betrayed the principles it purports to defend, and how opinion is manipulated by appeals to fear, prejudice, and other irrational emotions, Great American Hypocrites is indispensable.
"You won't be able to put it down, and you'll never read the paper or watch the news the same way after."
—Barry Eisler

“Those who ignore what Greenwald has to say act at our collective peril.”
—John W. Dean, former Nixon White House counsel and author of Conservatives Without Conscience

“There are few patriots on Capitol Hill. You can count them on your hand. . . . Glenn Greenwald, constitutional lawyer, is one such patriot.”

“One of the smartest and most important new voices to emerge in politics in years.”
—Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of Daily Kos and coauthor of Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics

"Glenn Greenwald has done it again.  He’s about to release another great book. . . . From the myth that John Wayne was a great American hero (he was a WWII draft dodger), to how the media perpetuates false images of right-wingers (so much for the “liberal media”) . . . to the falsehood that Republicans bring us smaller government, Glenn lays it out beautifully."
—Alan Colmes

"I rely on Glenn Greenwald, above all, for understanding the assaults by this administration on the Constitution, and for pointing the way toward regaining a republic.  There's no one whose work has impressed me more."
—Daniel Ellsberg

"This book is written with such vicious joy that it is just really fun to read....I'm always amazed by the clarity of [Greenwald's] writing and his ability to indict the conservative mindset with well-articulated factual patterns."
—Matt Stoller, Open Left

"The peerless Glenn Greenwald."
—Josh Marshall

"One of the best political commentators out there . . .Unlike most other bloggers, Greenwald practices journalism . . . Few others are better than Greenwald at sussing out the accidental propaganda inflicted on us by the mainstream press"
The Village Voice

"Perhaps the most influential civil-liberties writer on the Web"
The American Prospect

"Blogosphere superstar"
Mother Jones

"Among the most intelligent and widely read practitioners of blogging"

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307408663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307408662
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

305 of 329 people found the following review helpful By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on April 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recommend this book be read wearing asbestos gloves. Greenwald's tone is emphatic and sometimes vociferous with dozens of passages written in bold. With a large font, these fairly jump out at the reader. His theme is just as bold and twice as profound and accurate with facts that the current events follower will readily recall.

In "Great American Hypocrites," he first takes aim at the American icon of masculinity and bravado, John Wayne, whom he brands for cowardice under fire from the Selective Service Act. John Wayne received a deferment claiming that he had a wife and three kids to support while other actors, younger and older, in similar circumstances hurried to enlist and fight for their country. While promising to enlist he ignored additional summonses from his draft board until his studio could intervene on his behalf.

Greenwald postulates that men such as Wayne need to overcompensate for their cowardice by throwing their wholehearted support to future military interventions so they will feel like patriots and men of courage. It is equally important to label people who avoid service or dissent against a war as cowards and traitors. This is an important point that the author makes.

By waving the flag and calling for war, they become courageous, strong, and patriotic. By denouncing those who disagree, the dissenters become cowardly, unpatriotic, and weak. Perfect examples of this are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who avoided combat by any means, while depicting a true war hero, John Kerry, as an effete, namby-pamby. Greenwald called this image "Tough Guise."

And this has been the republican and conservative strategy since Ronald Reagan who also avoided combat vs. Jimmy Carter who served aboard nuclear submarines.
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146 of 162 people found the following review helpful By L. Roth VINE VOICE on April 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Glenn Greenwald's new book is indispensable for anyone who wants to know why America seems to be going so far along the wrong track we've been running along for too long. How can we have a government controlled by a party which claims to be strong on defense, in favor of smaller government and personal liberty instead give us record deficits, a more dangerous world, a weakened military, and government intrusion into every sphere of private life? It's not an accident.

Greenwald lays out in great detail what the problem is. Our political discourse in this country has been thoroughly debased by turning away from substantive debate on real issues to a freak show where myths matter more than truth and the press aids and abets the process.

The practitioners of these myths are the Republican party, which has cloaked itself in an facade of manliness, patriotism, and moral rectitude even as the facts show they are anything but. Greenwald shows how time and time again they project their own sins onto the Democrats and the press mindlessly parrots their talking points. It's not pretty, but it works - and that's why the GOP will keep doing it.

For someone who is a Republican, but wonders why the budget is busted, why fundamentalist preachers are calling the shots, why the party keeps having scandal after scandal, why the country is now on a permanent war footing, this book is a must read.

For someone who is a Democrat, this book is a must read because it explains why the Democrats seem to be always snatching defeat from victory, why they can't catch a break from the press, and why the Republicans are literally able to get away with murder time and time again.
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111 of 127 people found the following review helpful By James Mann on April 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In documenting just a fraction of the GOP hypocrisy rampant today, Greenwald has shown us one reason why the last 7 years of Republican rule has failed so horribly- because they don't believe a word they utter.

They decry an overreaching government- except when they are doing the reaching.

They wring their hands at "amoral liberals"- hoping no mentions their own failed marriages, arrests, scandals and fraud.

They stomp their feet at the "socialist" liberals, while gaming the system for tax cuts, military contracts for superfluous weapons systems, and earmarks out the wazoo.

The GOP is built upon lies- lies about our security, our morality, and the place of government in our lives. They either don't believe a word they spew- making them hypocrites, or they do believe it all- making them fools.

Either way, they had their moment, failed horribly, and now history will judge them. And it won't be pretty, but then again, neither has the last 7 years of GOP rule. Good riddance to bad rubbish. We as a nation can no longer afford your lies, hypocrisy, and warmongering.

Kudos to Gleen Greenwald, a voice of sanity in a world crowded by fools.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Munkittrick on April 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a registered Republican. I voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and voted Republican in the Virginia primary. Since 2004, I have slowly, painfully, come to the realizations that Greenwald so eloquently articulates.

For an exhaustive analysis, the review "Exposes the Freak Show" expertly details what is so wonderful about this book; instead I would just like to encourage fellow Republicans to read this book, so you may better understand who is currently leading our party. Despite allegations to the alternative, the book is highly evidenced with simple facts about candidates lives. Nothing more complex is necessary. Please read this book.
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