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Machiavelli's Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove Hardcover – June 10, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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"The Most Wanted Man in China" by Fang Lizhi
My Journey from Scientist to Enemy of the State | Check out "The Most Wanted Man in China".

Editorial Reviews


“Paul Alexander is a walking encyclopedia of US presidential history. Smart, savvy, and unflappable, he is one of a handful of investigatory reporters I truly admire. You can always count on him to strip away the veneer and deliver the goods.” ―Douglas Brinkley

About the Author

PAUL ALEXANDER is a former reporter for Time magazine and has written for Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, New York, The Village Voice, and The Guardian. He is the author of Man of the People: The Life of John McCain as well as biographies of Sylvia Plath, J.D. Salinger, and James Dean.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Edition edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594868255
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594868252
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,750,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Alexander is the author of Salinger: A Biography, the basis of Shane Salerno's much anticipated feature documentary Salinger to be released in theatres by the Weinstein Company in September before appearing on American Masters on PBS in the spring.

Alexander is the editor of the essay collection Ariel Ascending: Writings About Sylvia Plath and the author of Rough Magic, a biography of Plath; Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times, and Legend of James Dean, a bestseller that has been published in ten countries; Death and Disaster: The Rise of the Warhol Empire and the Race For Andy's Millions; Man of the People: The Life of John McCain; The Candidate, a chronicle of John Kerry's presidential campaign; and Machiavelli's Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove. He is the author of the bestselling Kindle Singles Murdered, Accused, and Homicidal. His latest e-book, Mistried, was published by Rosetta Books.

A former reporter for Time, Alexander has published nonfiction in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, New York, The Nation, The Village Voice, Salon, Worth, The New York Observer, George, Cosmopolitan, More, Interview, ARTnews, Mirabella, Premiere, Out, The Advocate, Travel & Leisure, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Biography, Men's Journal, Best Life, The New York Review of Books, The Huffington Post, and Rolling Stone. In Europe, his journalism has appeared in Paris Match, Gente, and The Guardian. He contributes to The Daily Beast.

Alexander wrote Good Night, Dorothy Kilgallen, an original screenplay about Kilgallen's investigation of the Kennedy assassination, for Twentieth Century Fox. He is the author of the plays Strangers in the Land of Canaan and Edge, which he directed. Developed at The Actors Studio, Edge, the one-woman play about Sylvia Plath, ran in New York, where Angelica Page received an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination; London; and venues in other cities, among them Miami, where New Times named Page Best Actress. Edge toured Australia and New Zealand and enjoyed a second run in New York. In all, Page performed Edge 400 times. Alexander is the director of a British revival of Ariel Dorfman's play Death and the Maiden; New York Stories, an evening of one-act plays by Paul Manuel Kane that ran in New York; and Brothers in Arms, a documentary feature film about John Kerry and Vietnam (First Run Features).

Alexander holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from The University of Alabama and an MFA from The Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has taught at the University of Houston, Long Island University, The City University of New York, and Hofstra University. Memberships include PEN American Center, the Authors Guild, and the Playwrights and Directors Unit of The Actors Studio. In the fall of 2002, he was a Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In January 2013, he appeared at the Key West Literary Seminar as part of the Writers on Writers series.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
At times journalist Paul Alexander's book MACHIAVELLI'S SHADOW: THE RISE AND FALL OF KARL ROVE reminds me of psychoanalyst Justin A. Frank's BUSH ON THE COUCH, a study of the emotional troubles that make George W. Bush what he is. As MACHIAVELLI'S SHADOW recounts, Rove, the infamous political adviser of Bush, learned the man he thought was his biological father was a stepfather when the stepdad, announcing he was homosexual, dumped the family. Rove's mother then committed suicide.

Karl Rove lost two fathers to rejection and a mother to suicide. The homosexual father went on to pose in body piercing magazines. MACHIAVELLI'S SHADOW does not suggest what psychological effects all that had on Rove, who toiled in the direct mail business while repeatedly failing to make a name for himself as a political adviser. But with all the rejection he experienced in his family and career, it's as if Karl Rove attempted to deny reality, trying to make winners out of fellow losers such as George W. Bush, as no one with any credibility wanted him around. Rove often proved them right, falling on his face more than he would admit. According to this book:

- the late political hatchet man Lee Atwater, whom Rove claimed to be his mentor, hated him.

- Rove did not have the close relationship with George W. Bush he purports started when they met in the mid-1970s. They spent little time together until Bush hired Rove for his 1994 Texas gubernatorial campaign.

- George Iran-Contra Bush fired Rove from this 1988 presidential campaign for spreading lies about a political opponent.

- Rove was one of the gang that couldn't shoot straight at the Florida elementary school September 11, 2001, as George W.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an engaging, lightning fast read that most political junkies will love. The author clearly has no love for Karl Rove and cherry picks facts and quotes to fit his narrative which basically is, "Karl Rove is a bad guy who did unspeakable things."

The book essentially summarizes Rove's political philosophy as "win at any cost" and "the end justifies the means," then it goes on to offer a survey of Rove's political tactics (the author would call them dirty tricks). The author cherry picks quotes from obscure government functionaries to support his theses which are-- at times-- a little preposterous.

For example, in the chapter about Hurrican Katrina where he posits the theory that the Bush Administration deliberately avoided doing anything to help save lives and render aid in New Orleans so it could embarrass Louisiana's governor (pass the salt, please!) the author begins the chapter by presenting FEMA head Mike Brown as a buffoon, using a quote from an aide to the governer that stated that Brown was "bullsh*&er" and that he had no credibility. At the end of the same chapter, in order to prove his theory about the Administration the author quotes... Mike Brown! (Miraculously, Brown had gone from having no credibility to being a wiseman in just 20 pages or so!)

On the whole it reads like a long New Yorker serial more than a book and, while I had hope for more scholarship than simply "The New York Times wrote...," the author is terrfic writer and the tale he tells will grab your attention--even if it is a little dubious at times.
2 Comments 10 of 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
As the only political bio I have read recently, I thought this one was very good at covering Rove's ascent to power. It made clear how this past White House made decisions, and will be helpful to future historians in remembering this very bad stretch of US history.
Quick read. Good insights. No political bias. 5 stars.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am very interested in political history. This is a very interesting book. I like to read different books with different opinions then form my own opinion. This book was well written and very insightful.
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