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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 1998
This is such a great book, full of the rage that only comes from betrayal. The surprise is the humor; how many political books are laugh out loud funny? The last chapter is chilling, and the strongest piece ever written on why Bush was rejected, and why he deserved to be rejected
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2002
Finding books about the first Bush Presidency is not that easy so when I came upon this one I gave it a shot. I knew that the author is a conservative columnist so I was expecting a rather right leaning account, but I was wrong. Either Bush put the authors wife in jail, took away his kids or killed his dog because the level of dislike he has from all things Bush is really something. Reading this book was like watching a boxing match were one guy just keeps getting hit, the author kept the zingers coming from everything from domestic policy issues to haircuts.
The book is not a all encompassing overview of the Bush years. It is an interesting and well written account of an inside the administration view from that second or third tear seats. The author found smart and funny comments on all topics and never were there dull spots in the book. Overall the book is great, my only complaint was that it was not longer.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 7, 2002
"Hell of a Ride" may not, from the standpoint of history, be the equivalent of Henry Kissinger's memoirs. But it's still, for my money, one of the most useful, insightful, and entertaining looks at the political and psychological makeup of the Bush (41) White House.
Podhoretz is especially good on the tensions between the true-blue Reaganite holdovers and the "moderate," "pragmatic" Bushies -- tensions that not only tore at the Bush presidency but at the GOP as a whole. 41 himself emerges as a man who was, if anything, too nice a guy for the presidency. His insistence, post-election, that OEOB staffers take down a large sign declaring (prophetically?) "We'll be back!" so as not to display "poor sportsmanship" is a fascinating contrast, viewed a decade later, with the GAO's evidence of vandalism carried out by departing Clinton staffers.
Podhoretz writes with flair, energy, and a good eye for both politics and comedy. Go ahead and read Baker and Scowcroft for the nitty-gritty. Podhoretz has the atmosphere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The most perplexing political question of my life is how in 1988, right after the Iran-Contra scandal, Republicans nominated Vice President George Bush for the presidency. Was everyone else seeking the party nomination even worse, or was it that the G.O.P. thought Bush, despite his shortcomings, just had the best chance of winning? That the vice president won the '88 presidential election was mainly due to Republican operatives making the electorate think it had to choose between Bush and not Democrat Michael Dukakis but, rather, felon Willie Horton.

The stain of Iran-Contra notwithstanding, politically George Bush only got as far as he did by appointment, not election, the John Podhoretz book HELL OF A RIDE reminds us. Before becoming Ronald Reagan's 1981-89 vice president, the only elections Bush won were two terms as a Texas congressman, serving from 1966 to 1970. After losing his 1970 race for the United States Senate to Lloyd Bentsen, Bush spent the next seven years as a selection to:

- Ambassador to the United Nations (1971-1974);

- Special Envoy to China (1974-1975);

- Republican National Chairman (1975-1976); and

- Central Intelligence Agency Director (1976-1977)

The son of a United States Senator, George Bush was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. However, without Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford keeping him in high places, Bush was out of public work by 1977. As if he didn't get the hint, in 1980 Bush sought the Republican nomination for president only to have Ronald Reagan upend him. It was back to appointments for Bush as Reagan selected him to be his running mate.

Having Ronald Reagan pick him off third base in 1980 was not enough of a lesson for George Bush, and with Willie Horton's black magic helping, in 1988 Bush actually managed to win the presidency. But as HELL OF A RIDE recounts, in 1992 the clock struck midnight and Bush found himself riding a pumpkin as Bill Clinton sailed past him. With no one to direct him, President George Bush proved the captain of a rudderless White House ship, and the public was not to give him another four years to finally steer toward a destination, the book says.

Read HELL OF A RIDE.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2014
Hell Of A Ride [A Historical Record of the Bush Presidency, 1989-1993], John Podhoretz; Simon & Schuster (1993 hardcover)

"Once he was president, he never uttered a phrase worth remembering. This was certainly not the fault of the [White House] speechwriters, many of whom were exceptionally talented... but they had no power & their work had no authority."

What are the odds of an author who can write this well - & with such a sense of humor - emerging from the Obama White House after 2016 who can so flawlessly chronicle the exact same mistake - "leading from behind" - that was made by George Herbert Walker Bush in 1989-1992?

Poor Alice Mayhew, of Simon & Schuster, "whose enthusiasm for the project [the encouragement, assembly & publishing of "Hell"] carried me through some rough patches."

This is an object & unforgettable lesson in hubris: That the same person who could so splendidly champion "Hell Of A Ride" could then, over time, lower her standards in order to sponsor & publish the embarrassingly incoherent "Einstein: His Life & Universe" (2007***).

Assuming that she is still with the firm, might she have had anything to do with the current Simon & Schuster fiasco, Hillary Clinton's Instant Memoir-Bomb, "Hard Choices," of which - a week later - 850,000 hardcover copies remain unsold & will most likely be pulped?

The $14,000,000 advance to the "author" of "Hard Choices," in the eyes of the S&S accountants, has by now gone to Money Heaven, of which, I have heard great things.

Pardon me, while I go to TripAdvisor & see what Delights await us.

*** (PN 11/17/14): Dear Alice is by NO means is your ordinary Manhattan publishing one-hit-wonder.

Let's take a look at the accolades written since 2001 about the Mayhew-edited, "Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the [U.S.] Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869,"by - who else? - the late, great plagiarist, Stephen Ambrose:

"Tedious read, poor editing (repetitive) & clearly one of Mr. Ambrose's worst" --- "The record for copy \ paste" --- "Interesting topic, horribly written" --- "Glaring geographical & factual errors that should never have made it past the editing process" [WHAT editing process?] --- "This book is a shame & a disgrace" --- "Highly unsatisfactory" --- "What happened?..." --- "Not up to standards of basic scholarship" --- "A great & enduring story, poorly told & misinterpreted" --- "Error filled & quotes from non-existent people."
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2000
John Podhoretz has written a good account of the Bush White House, from his perspectifve as a junior level staffer. An entertaining look at the decline and fall of a one-term President.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2013
A lot of insider information in this book. Someone familiar with the Washington environment will probably have a greater appreciation for much of what is described in this book but for this outsider it is still not a bad read. It does leave me shaking my head and going, "no wonder our country is in such a mess."
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2 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 1999
This was supposed to be an insider's view of the Bush administration. But the only way the author could get near the White House was with a visitor's pass. So we get second-hand bile passed off as the real deal.
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5 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2001
His old man, Norman Podhoretz, is nothing but an intellectual thug, and his son has not strayed far from the trunk of this polluted tree. I would shun all Podhoretzes -- including the mom, Midge Decter. Perhaps we can send them back to Galicia.
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