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Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America Hardcover – December 18, 2008
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“One of the most important books of the past ten years.” ―Gore Vidal
“A tour de force … Family of Secrets has made me rethink even those events I witnessed with my own eyes.” ―Dan Rather
“Shocking in its disclosures, elegantly crafted, and faultlessly measured in its judgments, Family of Secrets is nothing less than a first historic portrait in full of the Bush dynasty and the era it shaped. From revelation to revelation, insight to insight--from the Kennedy assassination to Watergate to the oil and financial intrigues that lie behind today's headlines--this is a sweeping drama of money and power, unseen forces, and the emblematic triumph of a lineage that sowed national tragedy. Russ Baker's Family of Secrets is sure to take its place as one of the most startling and influential works of American history and journalism.” ―Roger Morris, former senior staff member, National Security Council, and author of Richard Milhous Nixon: The Rise of an American Politician and Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America
“Left-wing paranoia? Baker, a solid investigative journalist, works hard to back up his claims – a reader could choke on the complex, interwoven details in Family of Secrets. He's a man on a mission, desperate to stop the "methods of stealth and manipulation that ... reflect a deeper ill: the American public's increasingly tenuous hold upon the levers of its own democracy.” ―San Diego Union-Tribune
“Prodigiously industrious investigative journalist Russ Baker…. connects the dots between the Bushes and Watergate.” ―Lev Grossman, Time Magazine
About the Author
Award-winning investigative journalist Russ Baker has written for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, the Nation, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Esquire, and served as Columbia Journalism Review contributing editor. Baker's appearances include NPR, Fox News, and Air America. In 2005, he founded the Real News Project, a nonprofit investigative news organization. His exclusive reporting on George W. Bush's military record received a 2005 Deadline Club award.
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French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre said that "words are loaded pistols." In the hands of Russ Baker, they are hydrogen bombs. On each and every page of his masterpiece, "Family of Secrets," he exploses the myths and lies that powerful forces have perpetratred on the American consciousness. He digs beneath the surface in a form of journalistic archeology to reveal the hidden history of one of America's most powerful families, leaving no stone unturned. Moreover, he names all of his sources and documents the materials he relies on to unmask the hypocrisy behind the myth. From Prescott Bush's ties to Nazi Germany to Poppy Bush's secret role in the Watergate scandal that ousted Richard Nixon, which was, in fact, a "silent coup," to George W. Bush's deceit in launching the war in Iraq, Russ Baker unmasks the truth with a relentless brilliance unmatched by his peers. His publisher, Bloomsberry, is to be congratulated for its confidence in Russ Baker at a time when most publishers are hedging their bets and looking over their shoulders in acts of self-censorship. Baker's revelations about George W. Bush's private life is worth the price of the book alone. Here is Bush, forcing himself on a Danish beauty, stripping to the nude, while getting another girl friend he knocks up an abortion, and then later, as president, opposing abortion and cutting funding for organizations that provide information about birth control. How he managed to get the Danish beauty to go on record, as he does with other key players in Watergate and the Kennedy assassination, is nothing short of astonishing. He traces the true history of Poppy Bush's career, from his early ties to the CIA he pretended never existed while declaring himself "out of the loop," to his strange phone call from Dallas to the FBI on the day of Kennedy's assassination, pointing a finger at a suspect who was in fact totally innocent, to his manipulation of Watergate to get rid of Nixon, is a secret story forced out of the shadows by the powerful documentation by Baker in this tour de force that keeps you turning the pages in asonishment. What he discloses is America's War of the Roses, as powerful families fight to the death for ultimate power. The history of Lee Harvey Osward in the world of wealth, power and intelligence that was Dallas, Texas at the time, is amazing. The anodyne courses in political science and history at American colleges and universities need very much to inject Family of Secrets into the curriculum so that young Americans can be more able to understand what America is truly about as a new president strives to change and reform it. It puts the dots together in a way that makes any further naivety amongst Americans impossible. What he tells us simply cannot be ignored. One can fully expect the Establishment media to go after this book in typical fashion, as they make their usual attempt to cover up what can no longer be denied. Family of Secrets takes to what Cyril Connolly so aptly descibed as the "blood crossroads of literature and politics." After Family of Secrets, neither will ever be the same.
As Baker began his intensive research into George W Bush, he found that in order to understand George Jr., one must first look at George Sr. This led him to inquire about the Bush clan in general, raising the blinds on this most secretive of families.
The book is comprised of 23 chapters. Of these, Baker spends the first 16 discussing George H W Bush (called Poppy by those close to him). The remaining 7 chapters are about George W Bush and those in his specific orbit.
Russ Baker makes a strong circumstantial case that George H W Bush was involved in intelligence work long before his 1974 CIA stint appointment. The actual evidence that would verify this is unavailable to the public in general as the CIA does not like inquiries.
Those who surround Poppy Bush seemed to be tinged by covert, intelligence operations. A few examples are: his father Prescott Bush, Neil Mallon and George DeMohrenschildt. The intelligence apparatus that evolved from WWII (the OSS) would become known as the CIA. And many in Bush's orbit were somehow connected to the OSS, the CIA or to covert missions in WWII.
Building upon this, Baker argues that the world of covert operations, including propaganda and psyops, is able and willing to suppress information and diseminate disinformation. The gatekeepers of knowledge tend to have ties to the CIA--including the Watergate journalist Bob Woodward.
The world of covert operations goes hand in hand with the oil industry and the world of international finance. The oil industry has acted as a kind of vanguard for US covert operations. This includes Poppy's oil rigs in the Caribbean that would be the training grounds for Cuban exiles before the Bay of Pigs. To fund covert operations, an intelligence agency needs funding. This is where international financial institutions play a role. The motivation: when a covert operation topples a regime, the financial institute gets first crack at exploiting the resources of the country.
Baker discusses the forces that brought Poppy Bush into the Nixon White House. Prescott Bush, he suggests, was the one who arranged for Nixon to first run for the open Republican Congressional seat in California in 1946. And George and Prescott are visible in the shadows during Nixon's rise to power--Prescott as a US Senator from Connecticut and George as a covert operative in several strategic regions around the world.
During his two terms as VP under Eisenhower, Nixon was in charge of several covert operations. And those in George Bush's close knit circle left their fingerprints all over these operations.
When Nixon became president, the name George H W Bush was considered for the VP slot. Nixon went with his own choice instead. Then Nixon wanted Helms at the CIA to give him all the materials regarding the covert actions Nixon had taken during the 50's. Helms balked. The result: Watergate.
The Watergate scandal, which undid the Nixon presidency, was perpetrated by CIA agents. All the major books on Watergate to come out in the past two decades confirm that Nixon was set up. And Baker concurs. But Baker goes on to implicate Bush as being complicit in this. Bush, along with Kissinger and Haig, was one of the few to survive the scandal. And with Nixon gone, the US got a new president: Gerald Ford.
The Ford adminstration saw the commission of what was to be called the "Halloween Massacre"--the elimination of several staffers and cabinet members who were loyal to Nixon. And Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld oversaw and coordinated this "massacre".
How do you explain many strange events in American history without resorting to covert/intelligence operations? Bush's fingerprints can be found on the Iran/Contra scandal: a covert operation if ever there was one. Bush support for 3rd world dictators (Noriega, Hussein, Marcos) can easily be explained if you look for the web of intelligence.
And riding on his dad's coattails is young George W Bush. Where Poppy went wrong, George W seemed to correct: managing the media to spin all inquiries; politicizing every government agency; handing out juicy contracts to cronies.
Baker's book is filled with innuendos and suggestions. This is its greatest failing. The circumstantial evidence in many cases is compeling. However, in some cases it is lacking. The true value of Baker's research will be seen in the years to come. Future researchers can use his book and fill in the gaps where he was only able to provide circumstantial evidence.
Baker's narrative is fun but difficult to read. His prose is strong but this is not a book to be taken lightly. It weighs in at over 500 pages but reads like a book twice that length. If you are interested in American history, the Bush clan or the power of covert/intelligence operations, Baker's "Family of Secrets" receives my firm recommendation.