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Rebel-in-Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush Hardcover – January 17, 2006

3.0 out of 5 stars 151 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Weekly Standard executive editor and Fox News personality preaches to the Crawford choir in this analysis-cum-tribute to the Bush presidency. Readers who keep pace with current events will find little new in Barnes's take on the president's policies, but what's instructive are the surprising glimpses into the personality of a man Barnes celebrates as an "insurgent leader" who's "an alien in the realm of the governing class" that despises all things Washington and revels in his status as "a revolutionary with a revolutionary vision." Indeed, the capital is a locale he regards as a "job site" at best and a "detention center" at worst where the increasingly Republican-populated Washington establishment is "reactionary" (and "Bush ignores them"), and the national press corps "reminded Bush of the liberal students he detested in his years at Yale." His disdain for newspaper-reading is well-known, but Barnes goes to great lengths to detail the president's copious book-reading habit (five to every one that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reads), from Michael Crichton's State of Fear and Margaret MacMillian's Paris 1919 to Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy and David McCullough's 1776. However, Barnes's cheerleading proves wearying after a few chapters: no matter what the topic, the president is right and everyone else is wrong. Bush, like Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, has been "prematurely judged to fall short of presidential specifications," leaving Barnes to conclude "Bush is a president of consequence." Ardent partisans will enjoy this polemical valentine, which should be read with care by readers seeking fresh insights into the mind of the 43rd president.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Here's a book the Bush administration will be happy about. Barnes, the executive editor of the Weekly Standard and a Fox news contributor, has written a political biography in which, to quote a cowboy song, seldom is heard a discouraging word and (with true Bushian syntax) the skies are not cloudy all day. Using a one-hour interview with the president as the core for this short book, Barnes hits the familiar notes: Bush is a loner, unbeholden and uninterested in the Washington establishment. He's a big thinker, a visionary. He is loyal. He likes to go to bed early. Nothing is said about CIA leaks or the standing of the U.S. in the world or Bush's sinking popularity polls; rather, the point is--made by both Barnes and President Bush--that this a presidency whose goals are so big, they are for history to judge, not snapshooting pollsters. The most interesting part of the book is Barnes' discussion of how much Bush is influenced by what he reads, especially Natan Sharansky's Case for Democracy. Barnes is preaching to the choir here--and the choir will love it. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Forum; First Edition edition (January 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307336492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307336491
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,792,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
including one that I wrote just a couple of days ago. My review was negative and rather sarcastic about TV personality Fred Barnes' contention that Bush is a courageous political outsider -- which you have to agree would be an eccentric way to describe the politican son of any former President. But my review was not offensive unless, perhaps, you are Fred Barnes and your mission in life is the production of neoconservative political hagiography. Something like two thirds of viewers had found the review useful. All the same, I am not surprised it is gone, there have been hissy fits from the Right about these and other comments. Oh how they piously decry the uncivility of these unhinged moonbats!

So, when I noticed this, I checked a recent book by Michael Moore sold by Amazon. There are many equally partisan and rather less articulate reviews from the Right that are still there and that have been there for some time.

In other words, Amazon does not subject the Right to the same censorship.

Why? Does the publisher get to decide what reviews Amazon will publish? Does selective censorship add to the credibility of the process? Did you get a call from Karl?
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Format: Paperback
I'm not a fan of those who simply come here to bash Bush without having read the book. I don't like people who criticize by merely calling Bush evil or a facist or some such thing. Especially with the term facist, it doesn't mean anything any more and calling Bush evil stiffles any real possibility for meaningful debate. However, I did read this book and I can't stand the opposite side of the equation either. This book amounts to nothing more than romantic idealization. There is no sense of complication or dealing with the challenges of his presidency. The book has an enormously clean cut sense of perspective that doesn't reflect reality. Bush may not be pure evil, but he certainly isn't the towering figure of righteousness and courage that Barnes portrays. Even my incredibly right wing hardcore Christian parents don't view him Bush with this much positive enthusiasm anymore and they were once his biggest supporters.

I don't hate this book simply because I have left-wing views. I have left wing views and hate this book because it gives its readers nothing that couldn't be read elsewhere. There is no original insight, no analysis that hasn't been done a thousand times before by fans of the Bush administration. Once more is that its overly simplistic and reductionistic style is patronizing and makes conservatives look stupid. I liked Bill Clinton but I most certainly would not glorify him nearly to the degree that Barnes glorifies Bush. I know Clinton made mistakes, and conservative readers don't deserve such an overly glossy puff piece that pretends to reflect their political beliefs. Frankly, people with conservative political beliefs should be insulted because they deserve someone to speak their views with intelligence.
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Format: Hardcover
Fred Barnes feels Bush is the innovative unconventional renegade firebrand revolutionizing republicans, conservatives, politics and government. Fred casts Shrub in the profile of Brando's Wild One. Now we all have a sense that Gee Dubya is reckless enough, but in the sense that he lacks adult maturity. But this is hardly what Fred intends. Fred wants us to believe Bush is the vision of steadiness amidst chaotic jungle of politics. Fred sees Bush as the later day Horatio Hornblower. Or even as Che Guevara.

Fred also sees Bush as a genius and a font of wisdom.

If I was Bush, Fred would give me the creeps.

This book is utterly ridiculous.

It is beyond absurd.

It is demented.
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Format: Hardcover
Similar to the old Certs commercials, the main point of disagreement over Fred's book will be - is it a deadly boring love letter or is it sleep inducing sycophancy? Hint: it's two mints in one. Bush destroys the best of conservatism while Barnes shines his shoes.
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By FranT on January 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is rife with spelling errors. As far as subject matter, simply do a search on Google for "I hate liberals" and copy/paste the results and bind it. Then you'll have this book. Nothing intelligent is in it. There are plenty of books about Bush that are far better than this book. I recommend "A Matter of Character" and "Misunderstood", and possibly "A Man of Faith."
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Format: Hardcover

Anyway, I read through the early part of this "book" at Borders, and immediately regretted it. Barnes is as thoroughly prostituted in the service of the Bush wing as the rest of the Media, and this little corner of Bush propaganda is as unreal, disgusting, and fictitious as the rest of the sodden mess.

This book is about Bush the "REBEL"?

I'd have an easier time thinking of the Wall Street Journal as the Mother Jones free press.

Bush is no rebel, he's the front man for one of the slickest, most politically focussed pack of liars in history. I was laughing reading Barnes' claim, and the review above that claimed bush was "not about Polls".

This to the Bush White House, a group that lives and dies with focus groups and talking points and has had Matthew Dowd on staff for years as the official White House pollster and political officer.

This to a White House that has Karl ROve, a Political guru in the West Wing, a White House that says nothing without consulting both Dowd and Rove and issues DAILY talking points to its prostitutes in the media who then begin the long, hard day of smashing the talking points from every talk show, every newspaper, every FOX report, every columnist in their pay.

And Barnes is one of them.

I was considering giving this piece of warm tripe two stars for humor, but decided it would be dishonest.
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