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Turkmeniscam: How Washington Lobbyists Fought to Flack for a Stalinist Dictatorship Hardcover – September 23, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140006743X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400067435
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,125,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Foreign despots with image problems typically hire D.C. spin doctors, so Harper’s editor Silverstein resolved to sting the shills to reveal how they put happy faces on tyrants. This humorous account of his subterfuge begins with Silverstein’s strategy: he would pose as a fictional broker of the energy resources of Turkmenistan, a country that, alas, labors beneath a reputation for human rights abuses, corruption, rigged elections, and cult-of-personality dictatorship. Understanding Turkmenistan’s need for a professional public relations whitewash, Kenneth Case of the Maldon Group shopped the problem to top-drawer lobbying firms, two of which scheduled presentations to snag the Turkmenistan account. Gussying up Turkmenistan would be a challenge, they advised Mr. Case—hence their steep monthly fee—but their firm’s stable of ex-members of Congress and ex-ambassadors, with their connections to the political class, promised to get the truth out about prosperous, democratic Turkmenistan. Evidence in hand of the lobbyists’ greed and political prostitution, Kenneth Case reverted to Ken Silverstein, author of this marvelous, rollicking exposé of K Street culture. --Gilbert Taylor

About the Author

Ken Silverstein is the author of The Radioactive Boy Scout. The Washington editor of Harper’s magazine, he is a former investigative reporter for the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Los Angeles Times. Silverstein has also written for Mother Jones, The Nation, and The American Prospect, among other publications. He lives in Washington.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K G R VINE VOICE on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is based largely on what the author reported in Harper's, concerning his attempts to procure lobbyist/p.r. representation for the Stalinist government in Turkmenistan (through an obscure investment group). It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one remotely familiar with Washington that ANY individual, business, government, etc., no matter how egregious their conduct, could find lobbyists to represent them in Washington for the right price. What is unique, informative, and entertaining about the book is the author's use of undercover journalism to expose just how far lobbyists would stoop to represent an oppressive dictatorship, with all the relevant details. Indeed, firms literally were fighting to representing Turkemnistan.

The book is well-written, and at around 200 pages, is a quick read. The book, besides being informative about the world of lobbyists, is also an indictment of journalism. The author rightly discussed the death of undercover/investigative journalism in the mainstream, national print newsmedia. He also discussed the incestuous relationships between politicians, the media, and lobbyists/p.r. types. If you're interested in politics, lobbying, or journalism, this book is for you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chris on February 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book on current events that I've read in a long time.

There are people in this country who want to believe that there are serious and major differences in principle between our two political parties. Well this book shows that both our parties do share a big principle and that is "money talks." John Murtha is a big example on the Democratic side. He is the champion earmarker of the House, loyally rewarding campaign donations with gifts of taxpayer money to the donator.

Moreover, political lobbying is a revolving door business. There is the case of the aide on Republican Bill Thomas's House Ways and Means Committee who helped shepherd through Bush's dramatic tax cuts on US corporations' overseas investments in 2004. This aide then went to work for a lobbying firm that represents many of the clients that benefited from that tax cut. Silverstein observes that the usual right wing dogma promised that such tax cuts would stimulate companies to expand production and hire new people. Silverstein notes that Business Week in August 2005 reported that six of the ten biggest beneficiaries of the tax cuts had engaged in substantial layoffs of workforce.

Then there are lobbyists who work for foreign dictatorships. One example is the lobbying firm of Patton/Boggs, the "Boggs" name designating Tommy Boggs, brother of Cokie Roberts. Tommy Boggs helped spearhead the effort of the death squad government in Guatemala to remove restrictions on US military aid to the country in the early 90's. More recently Patton-Boggs has done PR work for the dictator of Cameroon, Paul Biya. One of the most extreme examples that Silverstein cites of a lobbyist for a foreign government is Jack Abramoff.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By chitatel on January 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a good and quick read, an expose of the casual way in which foreign governments can buy influence in Washington DC, and correspondingly the extent to which what passes for policy debate in DC is bought and paid for. However, the book does not substantially add to the material that the author already published in Harpers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charlie on May 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found the behind the scenes view of lobbying to be intriguing - the story was told very well and I was amazed at the lack of information lobbying corporations needed to move forward. However, I wish the author had at least recognized the fact that lobbying is a business - they get paid to tell and market a story - just like advertisers - in government. Hopefully another story can be done on domestic lobbying, especially in these fiscally austere times.
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