Customer Reviews


103 Reviews
5 star:
 (71)
4 star:
 (15)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (8)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


304 of 326 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Depressingly Compelling Review of Conservatives' Philosophy of Government in Practice
Following up on his masterly examination of the paradox under which Red Staters consistently vote Republican against their own economic self-interest (WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS?), Thomas Frank sets out to trace the present-day conservative Republican approach to government in THE WRECKING CREW. What he demonstrates is deeply disturbing even though it has remained on...
Published on August 15, 2008 by Steve Koss

versus
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As usual, a good starter, but missing the meat
I wish Frank would focus more on writing well rather than writing witty. There are certainly some good points in here, and anyone looking to understand how, in fact, the modern conservative movement has managed to both survive and flourish, while overseeing the most massive expansion of the federal government since Johnson should give this a quick read.

The...
Published on March 18, 2009 by B. C. Hamilton


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

304 of 326 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Depressingly Compelling Review of Conservatives' Philosophy of Government in Practice, August 15, 2008
By 
Steve Koss (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Following up on his masterly examination of the paradox under which Red Staters consistently vote Republican against their own economic self-interest (WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS?), Thomas Frank sets out to trace the present-day conservative Republican approach to government in THE WRECKING CREW. What he demonstrates is deeply disturbing even though it has remained on display virtually every day of the entire Bush II administration.

According to Frank, the conservative worldview is totally committed to "the ideal of laissez faire, meaning minimal government interference in the marketplace, along with hostility to taxation, regulation, organized labor, state ownership, and all the business community's other enemies. "The conservative movement promotes the interests of business exclusively over all else in accordance with the motto, "More business in government, less government in business." So-called "big government," also tagged as the liberal state, is the enemy; in fact, virtually all government is the enemy, other than the national defense.

Mr. Frank follows the conservative movement from the turn of the Twentieth Century through the Depression and New Deal, focusing most heavily on the movement's rebirth under Ronald Reagan and on into the new millennium. Along the way, he discusses the growth of lobbying as a major force in converting the nation's capital into a massive feeding ground for corporate special interests. Frank also highlights the manner in which conservatives have repeatedly run the country into huge spending deficits in order to "defund the left" while simultaneously politicizing government management positions by favoring ideology over competence. The end result under Republican conservative stewardship is government that demonstrates itself as ineffectual and incompetent, offering but further proof that big government is inherently incapable of working and needs to be outsourced to private, professional concerns who can do the job correctly (and then inevitably failing to do so).

THE WRECKING CREW is filled with fascinating side observations, such as its note that the movement has always lionized bullies, from Joe McCarthy to Bill O'Reilly, from Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay to George Allen and Michelle Malkin (whom Frank describes hilariously as "a pundit with the appearance of a Bratz doll but the soul of Chucky"). The book's most effective and outrage-generating section has to be its chapter on the Marianas Island of Saipan. Frank casts Saipan, with all its corruption, nepotism, income inequity, slave labor sweatshops, and local political control exercised in the name of big business as the perfect and ultimate model of the conservative movement ideal, a truly horrific prospect. He also notes, properly, that the morass that is today's Iraq is equally a product of the attempt to force fit these same free market ideals to a foreign country, implemented (so the Bush Administration hoped) by inexperienced, wet-behind-the-ears young idealogues, home-schooled ultra-Christians with college degrees from the likes of Patrick Henry College, Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, and Pat Robertson's Regent University. Saipan and Iraq constituted "laboratories of liberty," modern-day "capitalists' dreams" whose realizations are (or at least should be) shameful American nightmares.

There is little good news in THE WRECKING CREW. Author Frank shows that our national government has been hollowed out under Republican conservative control, savaged into an ineffectual husk. Furthermore, he illustrates clearly that this was no mistake, that it is part of a deliberate process not just to privatize government and eradicate government regulation but to make these changes permanent by destroying the liberal left (and with it, of course, the Democratic Party). Frank demonstrates well that present day politics has truly become, to invert von Clausiwitz's famous maxim, "a continuation of war by other means." Regrettably, one side of the battle continues to play the game as politics, as elections won or lost and citizens swayed or not, while the other side approaches it as an act of war, a no-holds-barred contest in which the only goal is the complete and utter destruction of the other side.

THE WRECKING CREW is compelling and informative even as it paints a bleak picture of an America being driven rightward and increasingly toward the excesses and inequities of the pre-New Deal era. We all know how that era ended in October, 1929.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


157 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an important book, and right on the money, August 9, 2008
By 
Thomas Frank's latest book is bound to garner a wide spectrum of reviews here, and many of them will be skewed to the far poles of political ideology, both right and left. That said, readers of these reviews should understand that this is an important book and deserves to be taken seriously: whether or not various Amazon reviewers (such as myself) agree or disagree with the author's thesis and conclusions, The Wrecking Crew is going to substantially shape political debate in America. Personally, I found the book engaging, hugely informative, and fascinating -- the way a 40-car pile up or train derailment is fascinating. Frank makes a valiant attempt to end the book on an upbeat note, but on the whole, the picture he presents is like a case study in political despair. The really depressing part is that he seems to have correctly diagnosed the cancer. To paraphrase a remark by a lobbyist friend he quotes -- this at a tony restaurant in DC swarming with other lobbyists -- "You think this is going to change if Obama is elected?" The not so veiled implication: dream on. The Wrecking Crew makes me think we are living in a sort of flashback repeat of the Weimar Republic. Hey, baby, gonna party like it's 1939!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


88 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Must-Read from Thomas Frank, August 14, 2008
By 
Randy Buck (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
For those of us looking aghast at the endless flow of partisan venom that's become our national media, the feckless catastrophe that's become our national government, and wondered how so many self-proclaimed uberpatriots have managed to steer America from the country the world loved to a blowhard much-despised power in a few short decades, Frank provides interesting answers (and they're well-researched and excellently documented, unlike the spewings of some current conservative chart-topping bestsellers). This book's both horrifying and wickedly funny -- each page is a mixture of laughs and groans of disgust. Difficult to see how even the most rabid partisan could quarrel with many of his conclusions, as they're drawn from direct quotes; Frank's a master of giving pompous politicos enough rope to hang themselves. A page-turner par excellence, and essential reading for any thinking American in this most vital of election years.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intentional Dismantling Government?, August 15, 2008
With the recent books by Jane Mayer, Naomi Klein, Scott McClellan and others I was looking for a composite of how the current administration accomplished their dismantling of government. Mr. Frank has come close to explaining how the conservative thinking came to pass and functioned. This may not be the one book to record the travesty of the last eight years and beyond but it comes close.

Mr. Frank contends the dismantling of government was premeditated by the Bush-Cheney administration and like-minded supporters. Frank contends the appointments to regulatory agencies and other governing bureaus were intentionally incompetent or non-supporters of their assigned agencies. They either incompetently or deliberately neutered these agencies. He states the department of labor was intentionally made impotent in 2 and a half months. We all are privy to the Gonzales incompetence, the "Brownie is doing a great job" incompetence and John Bolton's hate for the United Nations. Frank implies these appointments were intentional to prove that government doesn't work.

Frank's book can be summarized as stating the Bush-Cheney and supporters set out to prove government doesn't work and implies they also had intent to line the pockets of their supporters.

Mr. Frank hits upon the Jack Abramoff - Grover Norquist group pretty hard. He explains how Mr. Abramoff's antics played in the group and how he appearred to be above the law.

Thomas Frank's The Wrecking Crew may not be the final history book I was looking for, as it is slanted to the left, but then maybe the true history of this time may be that the right is nothing but a bunch of thugs. Only history can judge.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rosetta Stone of the George W. Bush Administration, October 1, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a fascinating, extremely well referenced work about the neocon rule book. It explodes all the rumors that Bush is not smart. He has actually just been following this rule book.
Rule One: Government services are bad and business services are good. Attack big government.
Rule Two: Weaken government services so you can declare them incompetent and subcontract out the government services to private businesses.
Rule Three: Replace personnel in key government service positions with your friends, whether or not they are qualified to do the job.
Rule Four: Run up the debt, declare a crisis and cancel social services.
Rule Five: Demonize and demoralize the liberals. Blame them for whatever goes wrong.
Rule Six: Strengthen the ties between businesses and government by hiring only "business-friendly" people and by encouraging business to help write the bills to be passed by the congress.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Misgovernment By Design, September 3, 2008
By 
Izaak VanGaalen (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In his famous book What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, Thomas Frank made the argument many liberals were reluctant to make. He argued that citizens of red states were being duped by the right into voting against their economic interests. Frank received not only the usual charges from the right of being an elitist, but also criticism from the left such as Larry Bartels in Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age (Russell Sage Foundation Co-Pub). Bartels showed that rich rather than the poor were more likely to vote on cultural issues and that the poor voted not only Democratic but more on economic issues.

In this new book, Frank takes his battle with conservatives to the Beltway. He examines what government becomes when it is run by those who think government is the problem. The fact that there have been so many corruption cases - Delay, Abramoff, etc. - during the Republican years was no accident, rather it is a direct result of the conservative attitude towards public service. Conservatives, in Frank's view, see the liberal state as obstructive and public service as a joke. It was their goal to downsize and outsource public agencies to the point were they became ineffective and incompetent, thereby validating the conservative philosophy of government. FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina under the leadership of Bush's political crony, "Brownie," was a classic example.

The generation of conservative idealists that came to Washington during the Reagan administration, Frank concedes, came with goods intention. They came to reform a system that was by the late 1970's dysfunctional. But after they achieved power they proceeded, not to reform, but to neuter government agencies. They did this by opening the door to the so-called market forces. Government was now for sale to the highest bidder, and corporations and their ubiquitous lobbyists became the key movers and shakers. Robert Reich in Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Vintage) estimated that there are now around 37,000 registered lobbyists in Washington engaged in an "arms race of spending". This lavish spending by corporations to influence policy has transformed not only the politics but also the economy of the Beltway. It is no surprise that Loudoun County, a suburb of DC, is now the richest county in America. The second richest is Fairfax, right next to Loudoun. The third, sixth, and seventh richest are also in the greater DC area. The wages of lobbying have been good and show no sign of decline. It is the preferred career path of retired politicians.

The shortcomings of this book should be obvious: it is a liberal diatribe in which the liberals can do no wrong and the conservatives no right. But as far as these kinds of diatribes go, Thomas Frank's is of the highest caliber.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true, depressing yet engrossing, September 14, 2010
Ok, I'm going to oversimplify here, but bear with me:

A party's whole guiding premise is that government is broken, evil, useless, and creates unnecessary externalities that subvert the market thus government must be destroyed. They campaign on these foundations (and some others to siphon off votes from chumps) and once in power do everything in power to hollow out government and create a shell of a state so that business can prosper.

As broad-stroke oversimplification, that is the heart of Frank's book.

The depressing aspect for a liberal reader is that this foundation is backed up by copious evidence for the prosecution that this is what has happened in fact. Further depressing is that in two years of governance in the executive and four in the legislative, our center-left party has yet to clean up the messes shown by Frank to exist. It is far harder to build the superstructure than to destroy it, as Frank acknowledges that `liberalism' contains the seeds for its own construction.

Overall sad but true, depressing yet engrossing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's A Republic If You Can Keep It, May 21, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a still unfolding story, a story about Americans waking up one day to find they have no rights, no living wage, and no liberties because the country was being changed into a plutocracy and they didn't even know it. That is what Thomas Frank, the author of "What's the Matter with Kansas" contends in this frightening story of America's path to its own destruction for the benefit of the few.

According to Frank, it began with the rebirth of conservatism after the last New Deal president left office, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Their goals were to create a market place that was unregulated and unfettered with safety practices, consumer protections, or tax burdens. This meant taking over government, dismantling it agency by agency, selling its functions to private investors, and marketing their whole plan to a somnambulistic and apathetic public. They have made great strides in taking over what they despise and blaming it when it fails.

The 1980's saw the rise of the Young Americans for Freedom and the Jack Abramoff's and the Karl Rove's who were committed to advancing this agenda by any means necessary. They made powerful friends, were elected to office, became lobbyists and were successful in getting contributors.

The next step was transforming government in two ways: selling it to private industry and appointing people to positions of power who were incompetent or bent on destroying it. People like John Bolton became America's ambassador to the very symbol he hated, and Elaine Chao to head the Department of Labor. She would advise employers that they could avoid paying their employees overtime by designating them as managers.

The real tour de force is the marketing campaign that Grover Norquist planned in detail years ago and refined ever since. It was important to point out government's incompetence, that private industry was far more productive, that the collapsing economy was due to government interference, not Wall Street greed. It was overregulation not a lack of regulation that contributed to the collapse. Seeking a fair wage now became class warfare. Under the pretense of protecting the citizen from shady trial lawyers from are the "cause of jury awards" that cause the increase of costs, these conservatives are really protecting the corporations from lawsuits and limiting the constitutional rights of the consumer. While the Republicans were reducing taxes and running up the debt, they were saying how it would stimulate the economy. The debt has only become a measure of fiscal irresponsibility when the Democrats are in power. Then, when austerity is called for, the debt becomes of paramount importance and the best form of debt reduction is elimination of entitlement programs. Mr. Frank believes that even social security is still not safe from the clutches of these zealots. Congress now dances to the tune of corporate interests and contributions, not of their constituents. They intend to remove our protections, and widen the gap between those who have and those who don't.

Mr. Frank's arguments are factual and powerfully presented. Seventy-four pages of notes add credibility to his argument. His writing style is persuasive and his presentation is easy to follow.

If things continue as they do, the Capitol Dome may not be the most dominant feature of the D. C. landscape. It might just be the Golden Arches.

Benjamin Franklin answered, when asked what kind of government we would have said, "It's a republic if you can keep it."

Also Recommended:

Klein, Naomi, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." Metropolitan Books Henry Holt and Company, New York, NY. 2007. First Edition.

Wolf, Naomi, "The End of America, Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot." Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007.

Johnston, David Cay, "Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With the Bill." Penguin Books, 2008. This is how the wealthy have used their power to get the government to subsidize their economic agenda. It is highly recommended.

Johnston, David Cay, "Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--And Cheat Everybody Else." Penguin Books, 2003. The subtitle says it all. Even though it is six years old, it still compliments this book enormously. Highly Recommended.

Leopold, Les, "The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity--and What We Can Do About It."

Mencimer, Stephanie, "Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Their Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Rights to Sue." Free Press, 2006.

Mann & Ornstein, "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America, and How to Get it Back on Track." Oxford University Press, USA, 2006.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Praise from the Opposition, August 12, 2008
I am a conservative-libertarian, yet I must say I enjoyed this book. I had read What's The Matter With Kansas, the typical elitist-liberal scoffing-at of the trivialties of those ignorant peasants that just don't understand the grace that liberals feel they bestow on them. Yet it was a well-written book, and I always enjoy an honest critizism. So I picked up this new one, and I must say, it's much better. Liberals will love it, as it reenforces many of their feelings in an honest and well researched way.

Conservatives may love it too. As I suspect Frank realized, many of the pejoratives used by Frank in describing the way conservatives govern are viewed as a badge of honor from those with a different view of the role of government.

Thomas Frank has a thorough understanding of both sides of the political spectrum. It's too bad that he does not reject the idea that even benevolent big-government is an unwanted intrusion on people's lives. It is also too bad that he doesn't realize that it is not just a conservative phenomena that the bigger government grows the more it is used as a tool of the powerful, but that that is the inevitable consequence of a government that has the size and the power to pick winners and losers, so long as there remains the first amendment right to petition the government for your side.

That being said, a worthwhile read for all sides of the political spectrum.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As usual, a good starter, but missing the meat, March 18, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I wish Frank would focus more on writing well rather than writing witty. There are certainly some good points in here, and anyone looking to understand how, in fact, the modern conservative movement has managed to both survive and flourish, while overseeing the most massive expansion of the federal government since Johnson should give this a quick read.

The problem is that Frank seems to be more interested in quips that quality. I would suggest Klein's "Shock Doctrine" if you want a deep, well-structured, well-thought out analysis of the underlying motives and subsequent formulations of the post-war corporatist world order. If you're looking to keep poking the dead carcass of the Reagan Revolution with maniacal, childish glee, well, then, please, be my guest and indulge Mr. Frank.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Ruined Government, Enriched Themselves, and Beggared the Nation
$16.00 $10.78
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.