- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Rodale Books; 1 edition (June 10, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594868255
- ISBN-13: 978-1594868252
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 30.4 x 225.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,515,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Machiavelli's Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove 1st Edition
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“Paul Alexander is a walking encyclopedia of US presidential history. Smart, savvy, and unflappable, he is one of a handful of investigatory reporters I truly admire. You can always count on him to strip away the veneer and deliver the goods.” ―Douglas Brinkley
About the Author
PAUL ALEXANDER is a former reporter for Time magazine and has written for Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, New York, The Village Voice, and The Guardian. He is the author of Man of the People: The Life of John McCain as well as biographies of Sylvia Plath, J.D. Salinger, and James Dean.
Top customer reviews
The book essentially summarizes Rove's political philosophy as "win at any cost" and "the end justifies the means," then it goes on to offer a survey of Rove's political tactics (the author would call them dirty tricks). The author cherry picks quotes from obscure government functionaries to support his theses which are-- at times-- a little preposterous.
For example, in the chapter about Hurrican Katrina where he posits the theory that the Bush Administration deliberately avoided doing anything to help save lives and render aid in New Orleans so it could embarrass Louisiana's governor (pass the salt, please!) the author begins the chapter by presenting FEMA head Mike Brown as a buffoon, using a quote from an aide to the governer that stated that Brown was "bullsh*&er" and that he had no credibility. At the end of the same chapter, in order to prove his theory about the Administration the author quotes... Mike Brown! (Miraculously, Brown had gone from having no credibility to being a wiseman in just 20 pages or so!)
On the whole it reads like a long New Yorker serial more than a book and, while I had hope for more scholarship than simply "The New York Times wrote...," the author is terrfic writer and the tale he tells will grab your attention--even if it is a little dubious at times.
Karl Rove lost two fathers to rejection and a mother to suicide. The homosexual father went on to pose in body piercing magazines. MACHIAVELLI'S SHADOW does not suggest what psychological effects all that had on Rove, who toiled in the direct mail business while repeatedly failing to make a name for himself as a political adviser. But with all the rejection he experienced in his family and career, it's as if Karl Rove attempted to deny reality, trying to make winners out of fellow losers such as George W. Bush, as no one with any credibility wanted him around. Rove often proved them right, falling on his face more than he would admit. According to this book:
- the late political hatchet man Lee Atwater, whom Rove claimed to be his mentor, hated him.
- Rove did not have the close relationship with George W. Bush he purports started when they met in the mid-1970s. They spent little time together until Bush hired Rove for his 1994 Texas gubernatorial campaign.
- George Iran-Contra Bush fired Rove from this 1988 presidential campaign for spreading lies about a political opponent.
- Rove was one of the gang that couldn't shoot straight at the Florida elementary school September 11, 2001, as George W. Bush, Andy Card and he froze up after learning the second plane hit the World Trade Center, confirming America was in crisis. No political adviser worth his salt allows a client - a U.S. president, no less - to look as stupid as Bush did those long six-plus minutes after Card whispered the news, yet Rove could not think on his feet.
Karl Rove, the man they deem "Bush's Brain," is in reality Bush's lame brain.
In 2000 George W. Bush seized the White House not on account of Rove's savvy but because of Ronald Reagan's and George Iran-Contra Bush's partisan Supreme Court appointments. Without the five "justices" who stopped the 2000 Florida recount that would have awarded the Sunshine State and the presidency to Al Gore, Karl Rove would have gone back to licking postage stamps for a living, one more failed campaign under his belt.
Naming every egregious Rove/Bush move would be like detailing each home run Hank Aaron hit; there were just too many to elaborate on all. Some that MACHIAVELLI'S SHADOW neglects include:
- regarding Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush knew the storm was to devastate New Orleans, as a meeting videotape proves. But after the warning Bush did nothing and, as MACHIAVELLI'S SHADOW reminds us, the Bush White House's inept response was too little too late as flooding killed hundreds and stranded thousands.
- Rove accidentally sent voter caging lists to the wrong e-mail address, inadvertently breaking the story for the journalist Greg Palast, whom the e-mail recipient contacted after getting Rove's unintended missive.
- While MACHIAVELLI'S SHADOW says the George W. Bush administration decided to attack Iraq after 9/11, it's well-documented they actually started planning the invasion in January 2001 while the White House staff was still washing egg and tomato from Bush's inaugural limousine.
Karl Rove is not a comic book villain, one who commits crimes alone. While MACHIAVELLI'S SHADOW names accomplices as it recounts the offenses Rove orchestrated, the corporate media deserve much blame for not pressing Rove and George W. Bush harder on their scandals. The best example of that does not even involve Bush. Working for a Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1986, a few days before a televised debate Rove calls a press conference to claim he found a listening device in the candidate's campaign headquarters, implying the Democratic opponent was eavesdropping. The reporters promptly laugh in Rove's face, dismissing the stunt for what it was but several nonetheless write about the accusation. The corporate media act as nothing more than "He said, she said" stenographers instead of doing their job by investigating the matter. Rove's candidate wins the election. Too often journalists, like Karl Rove, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.
It all reminds me of Michael Moore's 2003 Academy Awards speech, when he said, "We live in fictitious times." Read MACHIAVELLI'S SHADOW.
Quick read. Good insights. No political bias. 5 stars.