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A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency [Kindle Edition]

Glenn Greenwald
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)

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The Conservatarian Manifesto by Charles C.W. Cooke
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Book Description

What will be the legacy of President George Walker Bush? In this fascinating, timely book, Glenn Greenwald examines the Bush presidency and its long-term effect on the nation. What began on shaky, uncertain ground and was bolstered and propelled by tragedy, has ultimately faltered and failed on the back of the dichotomous worldview—good versus evil—that once served it so well. In A Tragic Legacy, Greenwald charts the rise and steep fall of the current administration, dissecting the rhetoric and revealing the faulty ideals upon which George W. Bush built his policies.

On September 12, 2001, President Bush addressed the nation and presented a very clear view of what was to come—a view that can be said to define his entire presidency: “This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil.” Based on his own Christian faith and backed by biblical allusions, Bush’s worldview was basic and binary—and everyone was forced to choose a side. Riding high on public support, Bush sailed through the early “War on Terror,” easily defining our enemies and clearly setting an agenda for defeating them.

But once the war became murkier—its target unclear, its combatants no longer seen in black-and-white—support for Bush and his policies dropped precipitously. Glenn Greenwald brilliantly reveals the reasons behind the collapse of Bush’s power and approval, and argues that his greatest weakness is the same rhetoric that once propelled him so far forward. Facing issues that could not be turned into simple good versus evil choices—the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, his plans for Social Security “reform,” and, most ironic, the failed Dubai ports deal—Bush faltered and fell. Now, Greenwald argues, Bush is trapped by his own choices, unable to break out of the mold that once served him so well, and indifferent to the consequences.

A Tragic Legacy is the first true character study of one of the most controversial men ever to hold the office of president. Enlightening, powerful, and eye-opening, this is an in-depth look at the man whose incapability and cowboy logic have left America at risk.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bush's rise and fall are most evident in the 2002 election, which brought him control of both houses of Congress, and the 2006 election, which reversed that triumph. The president's chosen Manichean worldview and his rigid refusal to consider other viewpoints have resulted in a disastrous administration and damage the nation will be living with for generations, according to Greenwald (How Would a Patriot Act? 2006). Greenwald begins by documenting Bush's political collapse and then explores the core beliefs that have driven Bush's decision making, as well as the broader philosophical and political dangers of such strong convictions. He details how the president's absolutist moralistic worldview, the simple identification of good and evil, overshadowed decisions that required more nuanced views in the lead-up to the war in Iraq. Advisors with other points of view were ignored as Bush's strong ends-justify-the-means approach resulted in such decidedly un-American practices as indefinite detentions, use of torture, and preemptive war. This is a compelling examination of how moral beliefs can drive political decisions, with disastrous consequences. Bush, Vanessa


“This is the best book about the worst president. Glenn Greenwald is to this administration as they've been to the country: devastating. This is more than a book: It's an act of patriotism."
—Alan Colmes, Hannity & Colmes, Fox News

“Glenn Greenwald’s excoriating analysis of the Bush presidency goes much deeper than mere polemics. His layered interpretation of the Manichean mentality that defines the Bush White House describes a disastrously inappropriate mindset for a modern power in a time of global turmoil. This early portrait of the Bush presidency and the right wingers who cheered it on will be read and appreciated for many years to come.”
—Scott McConnell, editor of The American Conservative

“In the bare-knuckle cacophony of the blogosphere Glenn Greenwald has been a beacon of clarity chronicling President Bush’s unfolding war on the rule of law.  No one is better placed to explain how the president’s embrace of extremism in the battle against extremism has put the country’s most sacred ideals, even the country itself, under the gravest threat.”
—Josh Marshall, editor of Talking Points Memo

“Glenn Greenwald has emerged as one of the nation’s most incisive and articulate exponents of the critique of the Bush Administration. In admirably clear prose and with the ferocity of a former litigator, he is day in and day out building a powerful case against an undeniably consequential and radical presidency.”
—Dan Froomkin, White House Watch columnist

“A compelling examination of how moral beliefs can drive political decisions, with disastrous consequences.”

“In A Tragic Legacy, [Greenwald] wrestles with much more significant and amorphous material as he attempts to trace the dangerous, stark philosophy underlying the most pern...

Product Details

  • File Size: 350 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (June 26, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0031O401C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,917 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
425 of 450 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impecable research June 26, 2007
As a diehard Republican, I read this book very skeptically. The only reason Greenwald was able to convince me was because of the exhaustive research and sourcing he did. The book drew me in immediately and I couldn't put it down for the whole day. I highly recommend it for anyone who has slight doubts about Bush but is afraid like I was to challenge our GOP leadership. Greenwald has real guts to come out with a politically incorrect reality that we all must deal with.
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105 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sad Commentary July 2, 2007
President Bush has been the recipient of innate American loyalty to the office he holds, for far too long. Many of us who saw the handwriting on the wall years ago, still found it hard to admit how badly our country was being served by this President. Now the blinders are off and thanks in part to Glenn Greenwald, we can see much more clearly now.

In an insightful and dispassionate portrayal of the Bush administration, Greenwald has identified what he sees as one of the core flaws of President Bush's approach to world diplomacy and the governing of our country- good vs. evil and an overly simplistic view of the world.

The author describes Mr. Bush's approach to the Presidency, as antiquated and out of touch with the world today. Mr. Bush has fallen back on fundamentalist thinking, and by that I mean, a bleary-eyed black and white view of things. The world isn't that simple, and simple approaches don't work on complex issues. Greenwald outlines some of the ways in which Mr. Bush with his limited thinking and "Quickdraw McGraw" tactics, has irrefutably damaged our country and the world's perception of the US.

This author has very fairly critiqued the President's performance, and shares the whys and wherefores that formed his view of "Bushworld" and some suggestions on how the US can regain world respect.

This is a must-read book, for those who want to make sure that the next President we elect, represents the US, its policies and its citizens fairly and intelligently. We need an effective intelligent President, to help us to dig out of the hole in which we now find ourselves. This is a great book, and written in such an unbiased way, than even Bush fans will have to acknowledge the truth revealed here.
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166 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars as good as you'd expect June 26, 2007
I had about two hours with an advance copy of this a few days ago and it seems every bit as good as I'd expect.

Glenn Greenwald is unique among political observers in terms of his ability to archive information and mold that information into arguments that are very difficult to refute. This may have to do with his past as a constitutional lawyer. Certainly, his arguments are made with a lawyerly meticulousness.

I tend to think the premise is right on: while it's easy to see Bush primarily as incompetent or even evil, this book makes the case -- convincingly -- that Bush's greatest weakness is a tendency to view the world in black and white. That is probably most clear with his middle eastern policy but it informs many domestic decisions as well, as Greenwald makes clear. When assessing a presidency -- both its motives and its aims -- it's important to look at the body of evidence and not engage in arm chair psychology. That is where this book's strength lies: the evidence it assembles is overwhelming.

This book is in some ways a tough read. It's not jokey or catty the way much political writing is these days. It demands a lot of concentration. But if you want to understand where the Bush presidency went wrong, you need to take a look at this.
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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed My Thinking on Politics June 26, 2007
I've been blogging for five years or so, working in political organizing to bring change to the country. At a certain point in such a career, you kind of feel like your political framework is basically set, that though there is a lot of new information to learn the basic contours of how to understand our political system are in place. Not so. I read this book, and it helped me understand the danger of dogmatic thinking, the danger of writing off debate, and the importance of humility. It's not that, morally speaking, humility is a nice trait. What Greenwald shows is that the lack of said trait, and the absolute certitude of mind is at the core of how Bush has operated and how this man has destroyed himself, his Presidency, and how we as a country have ruined a great deal of our national fiber. It's an important idea that deserves wide discussion.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George W. Bush's Place in History August 22, 2007
George W. Bush has a different way of viewing the world. His motives for official political policy are encouraged not by reason, open debate, or any type of sensible discussion. No, Bush issues his marching orders and conducts the running of the country by relying on something completely different: The idea of absolute moral righteousness and its correct place over the reality of evil. Bush doesn't see any gray area; doesn't consider that he might be wrong; and doesn't revamp his strategies- either foreign or domestic- when they have been shown not to work. He stubbornly moves forward, even when every indicator shows that his policies are a total and complete failure.

Many books have been written about the endless failures of the Bush presidency with each book's author offering his/her own perspective on George W. Bush, his life, his many mistakes, and the motives that make him act the way he does. I have read many of these books, and I have come away with mixed feelings on what it is that truly motivates or guides our forty- third president. Some authors make Bush sound like an out- of- control maniac. Others make him out to be just another spoiled son of a wealthy father who is enjoying his reign of power and sharing the benefits with those he calls his friends.

But among all the books I have read about George W. Bush, "A Tragic Legacy" ranks as the best of all. It marks the first time I have read a book that critiques the Bush mindset in this absolutist "good vs. bad" manner, and it really nails squarely the way that Bush views the world and how this forms the basis of his government policy decisions. It is this "good vs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Answered some of the questions I had in my mind ...
Answered some of the questions I had in my mind for the past several years as to how he reached the decisions he made.
Published 4 months ago by Emerson M Hoopes
5.0 out of 5 stars but this is a wonderful history of things going on back in the Bush...
So much we know now, but this is a wonderful history of things going on back in the Bush era that points out his attitude of how important he saw himself and his beliefs, at a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Marianne Martin
2.0 out of 5 stars Greenwald's Desciption of Republicans Amazingly Describes Democrats
I have not read this book, but I just ordered another one by Greenwald, which I will return. (I have read the reviews only. Read more
Published 8 months ago by betty heinrich
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent book. It explains how Bush's character and...
This is an excellent book. It explains how Bush's character and beliefs shaped his foreign policy. His lack of knowledge about history led to the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Read more
Published 8 months ago by James Fenn
5.0 out of 5 stars BEYOND Tragic
I had little hope for what was to be a horrid 'presiduncy' when five ultra-partisan people (laughably called 'Justices') APPOINTED Bush Jr. "President". Mr. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. David Kopp
5.0 out of 5 stars A sound case...
I have long been conflicted between a feeling that Bush is likely a decent person who wound up being an indecent president. Read more
Published 11 months ago by J. Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad Case
Read this if you wish to understand what happened while George W. was president (and George H. W, for that matter. but I emphasize W. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Just me
5.0 out of 5 stars A weak and shallow man...
It is rather interesting that the word "mentality" is used in the title for this shallow, weak puppet who threw us in a really bad and ugly recession by starting two wars... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Bruce Tulpo
1.0 out of 5 stars Greenwald is a scumbag
Glenn Greenwald should be executed for treason. George W Bush eliminated terrorism and this Greenwald liberal scumbag would probably support an Al Qaeda takeover in the United... Read more
Published on February 19, 2013 by Dee Dee Tee
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for content, 3 for style
This is a solid character study of Bush. Previously I had considered that conservative philosophy is what drove Bush and his presidency, but I am now convinced by Greenwald's... Read more
Published on July 21, 2012 by ThisReviewer
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Author's excellent blog...
I read Glenn's blog everyday. Very insightful just like any other Salon literature. Very high standard!!! Can't wait to read his new book.

N.Sivakumar , Author of "America Misunderstood: What a Second Bush Victory Meant to the Rest of the World"
Jun 1, 2007 by Sivakumar Nadarajah |  See all 4 posts
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