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Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy Paperback – April 28, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (April 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316118052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316118057
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Savage, who won a Pulitzer for his Boston Globe articles about the signing statements George W. Bush used to negate legislation limiting presidential authority, gives that issue a key part in this account of the Bush administration's efforts to increase executive power. Covering constitutional issues as well as the political backgrounds of former White House attorneys like Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, this detailed report traces their concerted effort, from the moment Bush took office in 2001, to [leave] the presidency in better shape than he [Bush] found it. The authorization to use force against Iraq is only the tip of the iceberg. Bush has already gone so far as to declare himself able to negate treaties with other nations at will, Savage reports. He also demonstrates how many of the administration's most controversial acts have their roots in Dick Cheney's experiences in the Nixon and Ford administrations. This incisive analysis of congressional and judicial efforts to check the administration's power grabs adds up to a searing indictment. (Sept. 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Boston Globe reporter Savage begins by detailing Vice President Cheney's extraordinary actions on 9/11, ordering the military to shoot down a civilian aircraft that had apparently been hijacked, without consulting with President Bush. Although the order was never executed, it demonstrated Cheney's command of the administration, which has given him free rein to implement a long-held ambition to shift power in favor of the presidency and to secure that shift for generations to come. Savage recounts the tumultuous history of the power struggle between the executive and legislative branches of government as well as Cheney's own personal history. Cheney served his political apprenticeship in the Nixon administration, famous for its tugs-of-war with Congress over executive privilege, as well as the administrations of Ford, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. In this troubling look at the abuse of power, Savage also details Cheney's involvement in seizing presidential power to authorize wiretapping, torture, and imprisonment of citizens without trial. Bush, Vanessa --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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I felt this book was well written and excellently researched.
thewindfrombelow
The Bush/Cheney agenda seems to have done more damage than anything terrorists have done to us.
D. Florence
Nobody knows who the next several Presidents will be, or what they will try to get away with.
K.A.Goldberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

194 of 200 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on September 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There have been lots of books about the Bush-Cheney administration, and considerable coverage of efforts to increase presidential power. However, "Takeover's" well-researched, thoughtful and important material requires no outside leverage to gain a prominent spot amongst them.

Savage's summary asserts that Bush-Cheney have succeeded in seizing vast powers for the presidency by ignoring many of the restraints placed on it by Congress, the courts, and the Constitution. Warrantless waretapping, politicization of the Justice Department and the torture debate, use of "signing statements" to claim a right to defy new laws, efforts to impose greater control over military JAG lawyers, secrecy behind Cheney's energy task force (and innumerable other government actions), and holding U.S. citizens without trial as "enemy combatants" have all served this end.

Savage clearly sees Cheney as the force behind these moves, citing Cheney's earlier experiences and actions in government, beginning in the Nixon administration within the Office of Economic Opportunity with Don Rumsfeld, on to episodes of classified information disclosure (eg. illegal CIA spying on Americans, U.S. submarines eavesdropping on Soviet cables), Cheney's restricting access to President Ford by those with competing viewpoints (also reduced likelihood of leaks), and efforts within Congress to support Reagan-Bush power grabs (eg. forcing executive agencies to submit proposed rules to the White House before they could take effect).

The Bush-Cheney powergrab began immediately upon assuming the office. White House Counsel Gonzales was assigned a support role almost on the administration's opening day.
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69 of 74 people found the following review helpful By W. P. Strange on October 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The number of books being written about the excesses of the Bush years increase almost daily, and keeping up with all of them is becoming nothing short of impossible. That said, keep in mind that not much is new from volume to volume, but "Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency..." covers most of the issues competently if not completely.

It is difficult for some readers, especially those who refuse to see the inadequecies and subversions of this presidency to read books that are not flattering, but hopefully they can leave their ideology for a while.

Had some of the events that took place within the oval office during the last six years occured during the previous administration there would have been very credible reasons to seek impeachment, and the failure of Congress to demand a better accounting of the insane power grabs is incomprehensible, but partisan politics seems to be the only measure to take, not take action. America has lost so much credibility during this imperial presidency that it will take decades to even begin to repair some of the damage, and then only if our politicians on both sides of the aisle wake up, and soon.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on October 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With each successive year, the Bush-Cheney administration gets scarier and undoubtedly more out of control. Political grabs for power have always been the name of the game in Washington, but the current White House has taken it to new and unprecedented levels, subverting the Constitution along the way. Charlie Savage's terrific new book, "Takeover", charts the "progress" of the Bush years and with it offers up some startling results.

It's been known for some time now that the run up to the war in Iraq was based on conjecture. As Savage reminds us, Tony Blair's cabinet had correctly surmised that (regarding the potential invasion) "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy". This was only the beginning for the Bush people and, having gotten their way with that, the rush to accumulate power within the executive branch of government was underway. Castrating Congress, disregarding the courts and avoiding public opinion, the administration went on a tear. Legalisms became the norm in order to sidestep the law as the White House pulled the wagons in closer and tighter.

One of the main thrusts of "Takeover" is a discussion about Unitary Executive Theory which amounts to an idea that an executive can ignore previous laws, precedents that are attached to them and to do pretty much at will as he so desires. This often takes the form of "signing statements". It is here that Savage really makes his case for how far out on a limb Bush-Cheney have gone. With their team of lawyers working seemingly around the clock to get around anything that might get in the way, (and in their mind, "weaken" the executive branch) Savage adeptly and successfully crashes their party.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Alice K. Chan on September 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There are "oh, now I get it!" moments on nearly every page of this highly readable, superbly-researched and sourced book. Although the title implies that this might be a book about George W. Bush, it's actually the story of how Dick Cheney visualized, masterminded, and executed the destruction of Constitutional limits to the power of the President. Savage shows us that starting with his work in the Nixon administration as Rumsfeld's assistant at the Office of Economic Opportunity, continuing with his term as Wyoming's representative to Congress, and then during his service in the administrations of Reagan and George H.W. bush, Cheney worked relentlessly to formulate his vision of an imperial presidency, and form a team that would assist him in stripping away Congressional oversight of the actions of the President. By the time he was selected to be George Bush's running mate for the Presidency, all the pieces and characters were in place, and the rest is history.

Savage looked at all the documents, court rulings, and white papers relating to Cheney's work, and in this book makes a powerful case that we would have known what we were in for today if we had studied the history of this man. It's a case-study of how to demolish democracy. This is compelling and mandatory reading for anyone who cares about the Constitution of the United States and the future of our democracy.
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