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The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill Hardcover – January 13, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 361 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The George W. Bush White House, as described by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, is a world out of kilter. Policy decisions are determined not by careful weighing of an issue's complexities; rather, they're dictated by a cabal of ideologues and political advisors operating outside the view of top cabinet officials. The President is not a fully engaged administrator but an enigma who is, at best, guarded and poker-faced but at worst, uncurious, unintelligent, and a puppet of larger forces. O'Neill provided extensive documentation to journalist and author Suskind, including schedules with 7,630 entries and a set of 19,000 documents that featured memoranda to the President, thank-you notes, meeting minutes, and voluminous reports. The result, The Price of Loyalty, is a gripping look inside the meeting rooms, the in-boxes, and the minds of a famously guarded administration. Much of the book, as one might expect from the story of a Treasury Secretary, revolves around economics, but even those not normally enthused by tax code intricacies will be fascinated by the rapid-fire intellects of O'Neill and Fed chairman Alan Greenspan as they gather for regular power breakfasts. A good deal of the book is about the things that O'Neill never figures out. He knows there's something creepy going on with the administration's power structure, but he's never inside enough to know quite what it is. But while those sections are intriguing, other passages are simply revelatory: O'Neill asserts that Saddam Hussein was targeted for removal not in the 9/11 aftermath but soon after Bush took office. Paul O'Neill makes for an interesting protagonist. A vaunted economist from the days of Nixon and Ford, he returns to a Washington that's immeasurably more cutthroat. And while he appears almost naïvely academic initially, he emerges as someone determined to speak his mind even when it becomes apparent that such an approach spells his political doom. --John Moe


The Times Blasts through the wall of silence surrounding the White House.

Financial Times The most spectacular attack on Bush by a former senior official.

Justin Webb, BBC The most sustained and damaging criticism of the Bush administration from a former insider since the President came to power.

New Yorker A damaging read...Our breezy President, if he is re-elected, may well find himself ruined by his refusal to heed O'Neill's warnings.

Sunday Times O'Neill's book is priceless.

Esquire The most explosive book of the year.

Guardian One of the most damning White House exposés of recent times.

Independent A considerable challenge to the official version of history. --George Bush Secrets

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (January 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743255453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743255455
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (361 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What stuns me with all the one-star reviews is the fact that they so clearly haven't read the book. This book isn't about Paul O'Neill: it is about the blind dedication of people inside the Bush White House to policies that are determined by politics and not by data and information. O'Neill emerges as someone who carefully sifts information, takes a naturally conservative approach to issues, and does not like to recommend any policy that is based on speculation or insufficient evidence.
The book shows that a number of White House insiders or heads of government institutions (notably Alan Greenspan at the Fed) are not very comfortable with the ideologues currently running the White House. Lost in a lot of the attention that O'Neill is getting is the fact that other White House folk have also spoken off record. Reading the book--and I generally find it is easier to talk about something you have actually read instead of something you merely make up in your head--it is pretty certain that Alan Greenspan was also interviewed for the book and is one of those who spoke off the record. I would also bet that Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the EPA (another one who wanted policy to be based on verified data), was another. It is absolutely definite that either Colin Powell or several members of the State Department (unquestionably with his blessing) cooperated in the making of the book. Possibly other nonideologues like Condileeza Rice or one of her aides talked with Suskind.
The mistake that many are making is assuming that O'Neill is merely doing this out of revenge. It is almost impossible to support that theory after reading the book.
I think the is one of the most important books that has been published in the past two years on any subject.
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Format: Audio CD
A definite eye-opener and exercise in objectivity for those that can complete this book without being baited by their own pre-perceptions and political affiliations. I am one that read this book cover to cover with an objective posture and open mind. Unfortunately, I fear that mass media publicity has not been covered by those that have had an opportunity to complete the book. We are missing MANY opportunities we can learn and apply....for one, our thought processes and the need to "inquire" should not represent insubordination. Nor should we feel intimidated to follow mainstream thought if our visions and values are derived from our integrity to do what is right. The book does not bash Bush, it presents a realistic picture of O'Neil's perception of Bush. What is well documented and shared are many models of process that O'Neil (as well as Greenspan)utilized to keep from being entrenched in 'yester-year' quick fix plans when our economy is so volatile to change. It's nice to see that O'Neil did not operate from "anticipation" and "optimistic perceptions" but hard core facts/figures. Why is it so hard to understand that when the news isn't good, no one wants to hear it? Fiscal prudence, process and the ability to create legislative policy that is 'blind to affiliation' is essential but almost impossible to achieve. I recommend that anyone wishing to make a difference in the quality of their lives and others, read this book. It's not the politics, not the who did what to whom....it's the thought provoking processes that wake up your mind and clean out the cobwebs that make reading this book stimulating. You might want to review your basic accounting princples and definitions first as some of the content requires a stick-to-learn-as-you go' pace. I applaud O'Neil.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Ron Suskind, thanks to Paul O'Neil, has written an excellent book giving us much insight on the inner workings of the White House. Suskind is a former Wall Street Journal writer. And, it shows. The substance of the book is dense with information and documentation. But, the prose is lively and easy to read.
According to the former Secretary of the Treasury, Bush and Cheney dominate the White House. Bush leads based on stubbornly held personal opinions, and Cheney executes the plans reflecting the President's opinions. Occasionally, Cheney feeds opinion to Bush when the latter has none to begin with. But, everyone else is just there to make a case for supporting these same opinions. Thus, most of the Presidential decisions are not well founded in objective intelligence.
Within this managerial climate, there is no room for intellectual debates, exchange of information, or even consensus building. It is pretty much Bush and Cheney's ways or the highway. Paul O'Neil, an intelligent, assertive, and independent thinker, did not fit within these parameters, and Cheney quickly showed him the next highway exit.
When Paul O'Neil was recruited as Secretary of the Treasury, he seemed to fit very well with the Administration. He fit perfectly the mold of the old guard intelligentia who had reached the top level in business, with also much government experience. He is definitely a conservative, pro business fellow. He seemed just another of the old boys. But, things did not turn out that way.
Paul O'Neil, an independent thinker, ended up clashing at every turn with the Administration. He is a conservative. But, that does not mean he is a unilateralist in foreign policy. Thus, he felt highly uncomfortable with the lack of strong international support for our invading Iraq.
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