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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on July 15, 2015
A Stunning Exercise in Academic Doubletalk

From the title, “Why Leaders Lie,” I was looking forward to a discussion of the countless whoppers America and the world have been treated to over the last 20 odd years. However, the first warning signs appeared in the subtitle, “The Truth About Lying in International Politics.” The warnings continued, beginning with the first sentence of the Preface where the author reports that this project started with a call from the New York Times.

What follows is an assemblage of anecdotes held together with confusing, contradictory mumbo jumbo. The author claims that after researching the topic he was surprised to find out how little nations lie to each other. Ok, then why bother writing a book about the infrequent exceptions to this newly discovered rule? On the contrary he notes that, particularly in democracies, leaders are more likely to lie to their own people. Ok, then why not write about that? Oh no, he insists, his concern is in the international realm. Nonetheless he devotes considerable space discussing domestic lies. Huh?

The entire book is free of any context, as if lies are something otherwise well meaning leaders occasionally manufacture on the spot to bamboozle their targets. I do not recall seeing the word “propaganda” in the 93 pages I suffered through, nor do I see it in the index. It is unimaginable to me that someone could seriously discuss government lies without an examination of the systematic brainwashing that is the fiber and marrow of contemporary “news” as managed by our political leaders.

Any risk the author takes of giving offense to officialdom ends with the title. The one contemporary example he cites of official lying neatly fits the mantra “Bush Lied People Died.” Apparently that is acceptable to his friends at the New York Times. Again ignoring all context, the Iraq War is presented in a vacuum without reference to what led to it, as if there are no suspicions of official lying involved in the events preceding the war. Congratulations, Mr. Author, you’ve succeeded in raising a subject that could jeopardize future grants but extricated yourself from paying any price that integrity might demand.

I resent the time I wasted on this foolish exercise in distraction. I believe the book’s greatest value to me is as a sterling example of the academic dishonesty and cowardice that marks our times.

If you are interested in official lies here are two suggestions. One is I.F. Stone’s aphorism: “All governments are run by liars.” The second is get a free download of Jacques Ellul’s 1965 “Propaganda The Formation of Men’s Attitudes.” The former tells you all you really need to know, and the latter explains many things we see and hear, including this unfortunate book.
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on August 3, 2012
Nothing new about why government lie...because everyone rather than reading this book, I suggest everyone take the red pill instead.
33 comments1 of 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 17, 2011
To show that someone is lying you need to do three points.

1) You need to show what they said, in what lawyers call context.
2) You need to show that it is false.
3) You need to show that the person knew when he said it that it was not true.

The last point is particularly important as modern leaders are being hit from all sides by people saying different things for example, one Australian Prime Minister said different intelligence agencies never agree on what is happening. Often they themselves are fooled.

This book does nothing like this.
44 comments1 of 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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