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The Book on Bush: How George W. (Mis)leads America Hardcover – February 5, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

While other liberal-minded books, written by everyone from documentary filmmakers to political strategists to comedians, have been broadly critical of the entire early 21st-century conservative universe, Eric Alterman and Mark J. Green have narrowed their focus to the man living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And unlike some of their contemporaries, they choose to largely eschew the clever metaphors and whimsical storytelling to get right at their pointed criticisms of George W. Bush, whom they accuse of being less than honest with the American people while serving the interests of large corporations, the religious right, and neoconservative ideologues. Such charges, by themselves, are so commonplace by this point as to be unremarkable but Alterman and Green provide voluminous, detailed research and come at the case with the vigor of prosecuting attorneys certain of a defendant's guilt or maybe a pair of exceptionally ambitious graduate students ready to present a final dissertation. They contrast sections of Bush's public statements, especially campaign rhetoric, that seem to strike a centrist, conciliatory tone with evidence of his actions that veer hard right and contradict the very things he had said. Some of Bush's words come off more as simple talking points on complex issues than outright deception, and the authors do stop short of calling Bush a liar, but even in these situations, the president still comes off as either out of touch or disingenuous. And though some of their supporting material comes from opinion pieces in publications like the New Republic, serving more to echo the authors' perspective than document it, there's plenty more from objective sources and raw factual data. Liberals will find plenty in The Book on Bush to arm them in arguments against conservatives and they'll have the evidence to make their case. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

Examining the Bush administration's record on domestic and foreign policy issues, Alterman (What Liberal Media?) and former New York City public advocate Green see a pattern of dissimulation to promote the interests of the religious right, big business and neoconservative radicals. The two progressive champions make no effort to hide their dislike of Bush, branding him an "affirmative-action-legacy student" lacking knowledge and brain power. But the weight of their evidence and their reasonable tone make it difficult to dismiss them as ideologues. Though David Corn recently covered this territory in The Lies of George W. Bush, Alterman and Green provide more up-to-the-minute information on several issues, including the Environmental Protection Agency's withholding of information about potential health risks to residents of lower Manhattan after 9/11. They also document a disregard for truth displayed by other administration officials and by Bush's federal judicial appointees. From this voluminous record emerges a portrait of Bush as an ideological bully who knows how to "fake left and drive to the right," passing himself off as a populist while launching initiatives that benefit only his hardcore supporters. Expect liberal cognoscenti to back this book in droves as the election campaigns heat up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (February 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1413256260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670032730
  • ASIN: 0670032735
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,718,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 154 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Headly on March 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Book on Bush
"The Book on Bush" is a tough read, in more ways than one. Style-wise, it isn't as entertaining as "What Liberal Media," the book that turned me on to Eric Alterman, but I don't think that this book was written in an effort to draw people to the arguments it contains (which, I believe, "W.L.M?" was); I figure that Alterman and Green wrote it more as a political science report, and with (probably, liberal) policy junkies as an intended audience. The other way in which it is hard to read is that it is depressing.
That said, I think more people should read it. Particularly right-wing policy junkies.
It seems to go through all of the Bush policies that I can remember and details, a, what Bush claimed for each initiative, b, what Bush did to get the initiative enacted, c, what each initiative actually caused to be, and, d, how the Administration actually supported each initiative once enacted.
Like I said, pretty depressing (even for old-school conservatives, probably; the neo-cons never ran so wild when the old-school conservatives were in charge as they do now).
My guess is that a lot of people who reflexively support Bush will gripe about this book. Another guess of mine is that a lot of people who support Bush don't actually follow the policies of his administration that closely, and will assume that this book is written by Bush haters that will make stuff up to defend an ideological position. I understand that; most of the (monolithic?) right's most successful writers do that so often that, to them, it seems fair to assume that the left does the same thing.
As it happens, the (better) books (like this one) that come from the left are actually researched and (credibly) foot-noted.
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105 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Of the spate of Bush-bashing books that have recently come out, this is clearly the best. Eric Alterman, who wrote the incisive What Liberal Media? The Truth about Bias and the News, and Mark Green, who has penned a number of other books on culture, economics, and politics, rise above the others through sheer thoroughness and a convincing literary style that transcends the merely journalistic.
Alterman and Green begin with an introduction entitled, "The Power of Audacity," which I think sums up the Bush strategy only too well. When Bush was faced with the prospect of lukewarm support for his longing to invade Iraq, he simply came up with the Big Lie. Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction that he is planning to use against the United States, and he is in cahoots with Al Qaeda in planning further terrorist attacks. It has been said that if you're going to tell a lie you might as well tell a big one. Bush may even be aware of this quote from the author of Mein Kampf: "The great masses of people...will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one."
The authors go on to show where George W. learned his audacity. From the Harken Energy insider trading that he got away with, to his irresponsible governorship of Texas, to his cozy relationship with Ken Lay at Enron (which he later denied), to his campaign prevarications about never using the US military for nation building or the No Child Left Behind rhetoric that he failed to support with adequate funding, etc., etc., we are treated to a kind of true crime thriller in which the bad guy is a sort of hail fellow well met (on the wagon of course), a good ole boy who steals from the poor and gives to the rich.
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163 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Rees on February 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alterman and Green have put all the reasons to vote President Bush out of office in one place. A lot of it you probably know, but even though I thought I kept up on politics, the authors continually surprised me with outrages that had flown below the radar of both the mainstream and alternative media.
Honestly, it can be a little overwhelming and depressing to read in such great detail what the Bush administration has done to this country. Alterman and Green don't write as well as Molly Ivins (who does?) and they aren't funny like Al Franken. Nevertheless, the research that has gone into this is exhaustive. It really is THE book on Bush. Every voter ought to read it.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Only six months ago, there was a dearth of good books on George W. Bush's presidency. Then, beginning in late summer 2003 a spate of books started coming out, from Paul Krugman's THE GREAT UNRAVELING to Joe Conason's BIG LIES to Al Franken's LIES AND THE LYING LIARS and Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose's BUSHWHACKED and Scott Ritter's FRONTIER JUSTICE and David Corn's THE LIES OF GEORGE W. BUSH. Now we are seeing a second wave of books. It began with Ron Suskind's THE PRICE OF LOYALTY and Kevin Phillips's AMERICAN DYNASTY, and we will shortly be seeing Australian philosopher Peter Singer's THE PRESIDENT OF GOOD AND EVIL and Mark Crispin Miller's CRUEL AND UNUSUAL: BUSH/CHENEY'S NEW WORLD ORDER. Given this thick pack of books, is there room for yet one more? In other words, Do we really need Eric Alterman and Mark Green's THE BOOK ON BUSH: HOW GEORGE W. BUSH (MIS)LEADS AMERICA?
The answer is yes and no. It is no in the sense that there is very little in this book that one who has read the bulk of the books above will not already have encountered. I have read all of the above-mentioned books (except for the two forthcoming titles), and I learned very little from this new book by Alterman and Green. However, I will add that this is probably the best single-volume summation of the presidential record of George W. Bush that I have encountered. The authors do a marvelous job of systematically organizing Bush's record of deception. What is especially effective is the historical approach they take to each area of deception.
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