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The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth in Bush's America Paperback – August 28, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. With a background in theater criticism, Rich easily spots the not-so-talented acting skills of Bush and his associates. Tracing the Bush administration through the last six years of subterfuge and spin, Rich succinctly articulates the numerous "fictional realities" that Bush has presented to his constituents. More importantly, he explains how the Bush machine so often and easily dupes the U.S. "infotainment culture." He theorizes that the ultimate goal of Bush and his cronies is to create a long-lasting Republican regime regardless of such annoyances as people, laws and democracy. Gardner perfectly executes the witty asides and tongue-in-cheek comments Rich sprinkles throughout. His edgy and distinct voice has a grip that keeps readers engaged in the text. He renders each word by starting softly and ending loudly with just a hint of nasal projection. His fluctuating pitch and decisive tone will grab seasoned listeners, but others might have to warm up to his distinct style. Aside from a few mispronunciations (including "yarmulke"), Gardner delivers the hard truths of this book in a performance that adds to its significance.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
New York Times columnist Rich offers few revelations, but the weight of all the things already published about the war in Iraq and the rationale for going to war provides a staggering indictment of the Bush administration's penchant for "truthiness" and public-relations glitter rather than substantive policy. Rich's analysis is acidly pointed as he reviews the litany of half-truths told by the Bush administration in the lead-up to the war and since then. Faced with the prospect of an FBI whistle blower disclosing the administration's incompetence in recognizing terrorist threats before 9/11, the administration launched a stream of PR distractions: Bush's Top Gun appearance on a carrier with a banner announcing "Mission Accomplished," the false packaging of Private Jessica Lynch, the blustering about uncovering administration leakers when Valerie Plame was publicly revealed as an undercover agent. Rich maintains that Bush himself was behind the leak. By the time Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the PR spin machine that had sustained the president since 9/11 was in undeniable tatters. Rich offers a time line of events and commentary that makes the case that the government has played fast and loose with the facts regarding Iraq for political advantage. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Which means that the people that we elect to office are no better, no worse, than ourselves. They ARE ourselves.
Four stars, because it is a bit negative, and does not address the good things that mister Bush did (he did some good things?).
The purpose of this book was to cover the “theater” of the Bush administration. One would think that the New York Time’s correspondent on entertainment would be eminently (or at least well) qualified for this task. After all, this is one administration that made more use of stagecraft and theater than just about any over the course of the US’s entire history. Many of this administration’s theatrics have left images that are impossible to forget, as hard as one might try to forget them. Who can forget, for example, the images of President Bush “flying” on to an aircraft carrier, popping out of the landed aircraft in a flight suit and then giving a speech in front of hundreds of sailors with the backdrop of an aircraft carrier and a giant poster proclaiming the end of combat operations? Who can forget Rice and Cheney‘s “mushroom cloud” imagery? Collin Powel’s speech at the UN? The “slam dunk” that the evidence was claimed to be? Who can forget, most importantly of all, the timing of many political events to maximize political benefits to the administration (i.e., the vote on the war being held three weeks before elections)?
If the book would have concentrated primarily on these events it would have been very interesting. It would have been, at the least, very original in covering something new. Unfortunately, the book does not concentrate on the theatrics and PR of the administration. It, instead, concentrates on the policies of that administration and their weaknesses. Not that this is a bad thing but the problem is that these have been covered extensively previously, and to much better effect in so many books (i.e., CHandraskdaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” and its coverage of nepotism and incompetence in the Green Zone). As a result the book misses its claimed topic, an area where it could have, potentially, made an original and significant contribution to the literature and the public’s knowledge.
This is a book detailing how the government lied and created propaganda to further their cause in both the war, and in the aftermath of Katrina. It's a fascinating book because it follows a time line that shows clearly how the public comments made by public officials changed over time. In fact there is a 78 page time line appendix in the book that details these morphing statements date by date. The book tells about the fake reporters at press conferences, the fake news columnists, and the fake "news" articles that the government distributed to gullible media. As one government person stated, "we create our own reality." When Specialist Wilson asked Rumsfeld why he and his men didn't have adequate armor Rumsfeld said it was a matter of production and capability. That was a lie that was outed quickly when it was revealed that one supplier, ArmorWorks said it could quickly increase production by 100%. During the battle in Falluja we were told that there were 3000 Iraqi soldiers fighting the battle. Reporters on the scene said that the Iraqi soldiers showed up after the fighting was over, posed in their neat, clean uniforms and departed. Certainly you remember the frequent comments about the thousands of Iraqis that have been trained or are almost completely trained. Somehow they never seem to materialize.
You've probably heard a lot of this stuff, but Mr. Rich brings out the deceit of all the Washington shapeshifters in wonderful - or perhaps the word should be horrible - detail. You see the action flow, and learn about a lot of governmental skullduggery that will make you cringe. It's spellbinding reading.