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The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth in Bush's America Paperback – August 28, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. With a background in theater criticism, Rich easily spots the not-so-talented acting skills of Bush and his associates. Tracing the Bush administration through the last six years of subterfuge and spin, Rich succinctly articulates the numerous "fictional realities" that Bush has presented to his constituents. More importantly, he explains how the Bush machine so often and easily dupes the U.S. "infotainment culture." He theorizes that the ultimate goal of Bush and his cronies is to create a long-lasting Republican regime regardless of such annoyances as people, laws and democracy. Gardner perfectly executes the witty asides and tongue-in-cheek comments Rich sprinkles throughout. His edgy and distinct voice has a grip that keeps readers engaged in the text. He renders each word by starting softly and ending loudly with just a hint of nasal projection. His fluctuating pitch and decisive tone will grab seasoned listeners, but others might have to warm up to his distinct style. Aside from a few mispronunciations (including "yarmulke"), Gardner delivers the hard truths of this book in a performance that adds to its significance.
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

New York Times columnist Rich offers few revelations, but the weight of all the things already published about the war in Iraq and the rationale for going to war provides a staggering indictment of the Bush administration's penchant for "truthiness" and public-relations glitter rather than substantive policy. Rich's analysis is acidly pointed as he reviews the litany of half-truths told by the Bush administration in the lead-up to the war and since then. Faced with the prospect of an FBI whistle blower disclosing the administration's incompetence in recognizing terrorist threats before 9/11, the administration launched a stream of PR distractions: Bush's Top Gun appearance on a carrier with a banner announcing "Mission Accomplished," the false packaging of Private Jessica Lynch, the blustering about uncovering administration leakers when Valerie Plame was publicly revealed as an undercover agent. Rich maintains that Bush himself was behind the leak. By the time Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the PR spin machine that had sustained the president since 9/11 was in undeniable tatters. Rich offers a time line of events and commentary that makes the case that the government has played fast and loose with the facts regarding Iraq for political advantage. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143112341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143112341
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #964,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

130 of 152 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on September 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Unlike the obvious majority of one-star "reviewers" of THE GREATEST STORY EVER SOLD (who have probably never read a book containing more than fifty words to a page), I read and thoroughly enjoyed Frank Rich's story of the Bush II Administration's use of half-truths, misdirection, staging of alternate realities, and general truthiness to promote a disuniting agenda and hide its astonishing incompetence. As a long-time drama critic turned weekly op-ed columnist for the New York Times, who better to critique the overweening theatricality of a Presidency predicated on its own supporters' willing suspension of disbelief and acceptance of image and symbols over content and truth?

Mr. Rich's approach in THE GREATEST STORY EVER SOLD is disarmingly simple - retell the chronological story of the Bush II Presidency, focusing on the manner in which the Administration presented and sold its case to the American public. What emerges, of course, is a pattern of deceptions and staged events that have resulted in a failed Presidency (with approval ratings rivaling those of Nixon after Watergate), a country more polarized than ever, and a lower American standing in the world than at any time in our history. What also emerges, however, is a portrait of the mainstream media that for far too long acted as the President's lapdog, cowed by the aftershocks of 9/11 ("watch what you say!"), panic-stricken over the notion of seeming traitorous simply by asking a question, and fawning obsequiously over the Bush Administration out of fear of losing their vaunted access (failing to recognize the irony of their being used as tools of the Administration's propaganda program).

Mr.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Steve Emerine on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Frank Rich, Paul Krugman and Keith Olbermann are among the few current journalists looking behind the Oz-like curtain of the Bush administration to call all the spades exactly what they are -- spades.Month by month, sometimes even day by day, Rich lays out the "do as we say, not as we do" battle plans of Bush, Cheney, Rove et al on Iraq, Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, the economy, civil rights, education, health care and scores of other issues that affect all Americans.The book takes the fragments of news we've received for the past five-plus years and puts them in a better context than other writers (save the aforementioned trio) have done.As a former newsman who now does public relations consulting, I found Rich's book especially interesting. It reminded me of when I and other Air Force public information officers were ordered by another president to tell Americans that Francis Gary Powers was taking air samples -- not spying -- when his U-2 was shot down in 1960.A few days later, President Eisenhower had to admit what the Russians and everyone except some American citizens knew -- Powers was indeed spying. Unfortunately, today's administration is even less truthful than the one in charge then, and it will take longer for all Americans to realize it. Rich's book will help speed the process.
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363 of 449 people found the following review helpful By J. A Magill VINE VOICE on September 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When Frank Rich sits at his type writer people in the White House shudder. And with good reason, for the New York Times columnist skewers them every Sunday with a combination of able research and wry wit. People taking pleasure in his Sunday columns will delight in this book. Those who detest him will likely have an aneurysm. Already, as can be seen among the reviews for this book, GOP attacks have either taken out their long knives to stab or tried to dismiss Rich as just another Bush Hater.

Such ad hominem attacks fail to reply to the care with which Rich approaches the topic or the strength of his argument. Seeing the Bush White House at its heart as arrogant and disdaining the constraints of tradition and law, the book traces a parade of failures and attempts to explain how time and again the administration can distract the American people from reality. In this Rich saves his greatest venom for his own peers in the media in general and at his own paper in particular. Why did they not challenge the White House when it made charges, often demonstrably false, such as Dick Cheney's recent claims never to have claimed Saddam was involved in 9/11? How did they give the government a pass on Afghanistan even as the US began shifting troops to Iraq leaving that country on the precipice of falling back into the hands of the Taliban? Remember how every prisoner at Gunatanamo was "the worst of the worst," and only now we know many innocent people remain in a legal limbo, turned over by bounty hunters in Pakistan to the US military, and even now remaining in captivity because the White House is loath to admit its mistake? Or how come the media does not question why terrorists become the most active in the summer and fall of even years?
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67 of 80 people found the following review helpful By P. Hansen on September 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
There are many one-star reviews here from the foaming-at-the-mouth crowd about a book they have not read. I was forwarded an email asking me to come here and freep (I hold an acct. at freerepublic)- some of these folks are the same people who wrote reviews about their favorite right-wing books and included comments FREAKING! out that the left hasn't even read, say, Ann Coulter. Sad really. Such hate and twisted hypocrisy.

Anyway--I really have read this book, and it is very well written. But then I don't consider Bush a true Republican, he is an extremist of another kind, and even people like Joe Scarborough are coming around to see this.
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