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When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 23, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I especially liked the brief section about Guatemala that is found within the larger section on Iran-Contra. Alterman recounts the facts often overlooked by so many: That in 1954 the CIA overthrew the democratically-elected Arbenz government, installed a dictator, and for decades thereafter supported dictators who killed 200,000 Guatemalan civilians. He even briefly mentions that the CIA overthrow resulted in major-league blowback in the form of radicalizing Dr. Ernesto Guevara, who was in Guatemala in 1954 and witnessed the overthrow, and as a result came to believe that only armed revolution could help the poor.
The irony of course is that those who are currently most vociferous about installing democracy in Iraq were those who had no problem with the U.S. support in the 1980s of Guatemalan dictators who directed the genocide of the Mayan Indians. It is the same cast of characters-- with Cheney leading the pack.
Alterman also impressed me in the Guatemalan subsection of his book with his reluctance to overstate. Alterman states that "one" of the reasons the CIA overthrew the Arbenz government was to please the United Fruit Company, which opposed Arbenz's economic policies. Well, that really was the main reason. United Fruit Company complained to two of its former lawyers who were high up in the U.S. government--the Dulles boys, John Foster who was Secretary of State, and Allen who was the head of the CIA. The result was quite helpful to the United Fruit Company.Read more ›
The first incident concerns Yalta, the Churchill-Stalin-Roosevelt conference at the end of WW II. At this meeting Roosevelt made concessions to Stalin that he subsequently expected to change. But he died ten weeks later and left the presidency to Truman who had not been at the conference and had not been informed of the deal that Roosevelt had cut. The result was the cold war, causing an immense amount of treasure and even lives over the next fifty years.
Second he describes the secret deal cut by Kennedy in regards to the Cuban Missile Crisis. This enhanced the Cold War and helped pave the way for the Viet Nam war.
Third is Lyndon Johnson's version of the Gulf of Tonkin incidents. These provided the basis for the congressional resulutions that allowed the United States to send an army to Viet Nam.
Finally is the Iran-Contra strategy of Ronald Reagan. At one meeting Reagan was told that his announcements might constitute an impeachable offense. He replied, they can impeach me if they want, visiting day is Wednesday.
I write this in the midst of the new presidential campaign. Kerry has just spoken out about Assault Rifles with the ability to kill dozens of people at a time, while the only thing in the legal definition that makes an assault rifle more deadly is the ability to attach a bayonet on the end. And Bush, well the fact that one of his press aids said, The President is not a fact-checker, just about says it all.
From Yalta to Gulf War II, Alterman shows the deleterious impact of presidential lying. His history of the Vietnam War is the best part of the book, as it was the lies of LBJ that led to thousands of deaths. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American political history, regardless of their political leanings. Thanks, Eric!
it covers a small portion of FDRs presidency, mostly only the dealings at Yalta; what led up to, and what occurred immediately afterwards when Truman took power. He then moves onto Kennedy, and his failures in dealing with Cuba - comparing his neoconservative-like attacks on Eisenhower/Nixon in their "failures" to contain and control Cuba to the modern political establishment that we know as the modern Republican party. it exposes Kennedy's hypocrisy in dealing with both Cuba and the Soviet Union.. all in the interest os his own political gain - it must have worked because we revere this dog as one of our best Presidents!
He then moves on to talk about Johnson and his political ineptitude and paranoia in dealing with Kennedy's leftover men, and the infected issue of Vietnam - and his lies that forced our country into a long, protracted war which we lost in the end.
Alterman then writes a scathing chapter reviwing the Reagan administrations dealing in both El Salvador and Nicaragua, and how this interacted with Iran (Iran/Contra scandal).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
American Politics is fascinating, refreshing to read a book of this quality.Published 4 months ago by MICHAEL WHELAN
Must read for every American to learn what unethical acts American President's do while in office.Published 4 months ago by Vincent P. Tobias
This is an excellently written book that is concise and devastatingly accurate in describing how degenerate the American political system is. Read morePublished 8 months ago by H. Campbell
Riviting tale of the lies and deceit of those you may have voted for. Things are as they seem and the truth is best served by telling it.Published on November 21, 2013 by Lee Brown
So three democratic POTUSes are responsible for our current political catastrophe. Whudda thunk it...
FDR, JFK and LBJ. Read more
I highly recommend this book for its studies of several recent (post WWII) situations in which circumstances caused the US executive power to lie or to let itself be deluded. Mr. Read morePublished on May 28, 2012 by Seoigheach
First, the highlights:
For people fairly acquainted with each of the four highlighted episodes, there is not a lot new here in terms of facts, but the analysis of... Read more
While I appreciate Alterman's accounts of the various costs of the official lying, I'm a little mystified at his conclusions about such lying. Read morePublished on March 4, 2007 by Publius