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The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism Hardcover – August 5, 2008
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From Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist and bestselling author Ron Suskind comes a startling look at how America lost its way and at the nations struggle, day by day, to reclaim the moral authority upon which its survival depends. From the White House to Downing Street, from the fault-line countries of South Asia to the sands of Guantánamo, Suskind offers an astonishing story that connects world leaders to the forces waging todays shadow wars and to the next generation of global citizens. Tracking down truth and hope within the Beltway and far beyond it, Suskind delivers historic disclosures with this emotionally stirring and strikingly original portrait of the post-9/11 world. In a sweeping, propulsive, and multilayered narrative, The Way of the World investigates how America relinquished the moral leadership it now desperately needs to fight the real threat of our era: a nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists. Truth, justice, and accountability become more than mere words in this story. Suskind shows where the most neglected dangers lie in the story of "The Armageddon Test" a desperate gamble to send undercover teams into the worlds nuclear black market to frustrate the efforts of terrorists trying to procure weapons-grade uranium. In the end, he finally reveals for the first time the explosive falsehood underlying the Iraq War and the entire Bush presidency. While the public and political realms struggle, The Way of the World simultaneously follows an ensemble of characters in America and abroad who are turning fear and frustration into a desperateand often daringbrand of human salvation. They include a striving, twenty-four-year-old Pakistani émigré, a fearless UN refugee commissioner, an Afghan teenager, a Holocaust survivors son, and Benazir Bhutto, who discovers, days before her death, how shes been abandoned by the United States at her moment of greatest need. They are all testing American values at a time of peril, and discovering solutionshuman solutionsto so much that has gone wrong. For anyone hoping to exercise truly informed consent and begin the process of restoring the values and hopealong with the moral clarity and earned optimismat the heart of the American tradition, The Way of the World is a must-read.
From Publishers Weekly
Suskind's take on the downfall of America's authority begins with what led to the attacks on September 11 and charts the countrys subsequent tarnished international identity. Tackling tough issues with historic disclosures (including the accusation that members of the U.S. government forged documents and lied to win approval for going to war in Iraq), the Pulitzer Prize–winning former Wall Street Journal reporter offers compelling and provocative stories. Unfortunately, Alan Sklar's narration will surely cause many listeners to lose interest. Sklar tends to drone and his dry, monotone voice bears very little passion or intensity. His uninspired reading lessens the impact of Suskinds masterful research. A HarperCollins hardcover. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Even more serious is the question of whether Suskind has been careful to check his facts. For example, on page 119, he says that Donald Rumsfeld resigned as Defense Secretary in mid-December of 2006. Rumsfeld resigned on November 8th. It makes you wonder. If Suskind couldn't get it right when talking about such a well-known and easily checkable fact, how can we be sure he got his other facts right?
So now I've told you the things that I didn't like about this book. These are the reasons why I couldn't give it a five-star review. Happily, the book's good qualities outweigh its bad ones. First, the book does contain some very good writing. Suskind has a talent for parallels. The best example of this occurs early in the book, when President George W. Bush is making a speech about the great American values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights at the very same moment that a law-abiding, America-loving Pakistani man is having his rights violated by Washington DC police. Suskind alternates between the two scenes, the president's rhetoric, trying to sound like Lincoln or Churchill, and the police's actions, suggestive of a dictatorship, less than a mile away at the same time. This is probably the best example of pure good writing in the book.
There are other good qualities as well. This book has probably the best explanation we will ever get about the 16 word scandal. (The president's January 28th, 2003 State of the Union address included these words: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." In fact, the British government had never learned any such thing. In February, Colin Powell gave his presentation to the United Nations. In March, the war was launched. In May, the president gave his "Mission Accomplished" speech. In July, the White House admitted that those 16 words should not have been included in the president's speech.)
Of course, the book's biggest bombshell, and the main reason why people will want to read it and recommend it, is the revelation that CIA director George Tenet quietly carried out a White House order to plant a false story in the media for the purpose of influencing public opinion. If Suskind is correct about this, then important laws were broken, and serious crimes were committed. Tenet should have notified the Senate Intelligence Committee that the White House was ordering him to commit a crime. Instead, he just did what he was told. Those of you who don't have time to read the whole book, and just want to go straight to "the good part," will find it on pages 361-380. I very strongly hope that Barack Obama will find time to read those 20 pages, at least (if not the whole book) before he takes office on January 20th.
In closing, I would like to point out that Suskind's favorite theme, woven throughout most of his writing, is of the conflict between "partisanship" on the one hand, and "honest brokering" on the other. In writing this review, I have made a sincere effort to be an honest broker.
I have reviewed all the books linked to below, and my reviews of those books will add depth to this review.
Ron Suskind's first book on the current Administration, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 was extraordinary for its deep look at Dick Cheney and how since his Ford days, he has always favored unfettered Executive power and has never, in every Continuity of Government exercise, NEVER, given any thought to Congress. He ALWAYS went for an Executive dictatorship that used "war powers" to overturn the Constitution and every single civil liberty. However, the better books on Cheney (25 documented high crimes) and Bush (a tragedy within a farce) are these:
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
The Bush Tragedy
The media and the other reviewers are placing excessive emphasis on the forgery. This is old news. Vaclav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia, personally said that the White House claims that Iraqi intelligence met Al Qaeda in his country were false. The son in law of Sadaam Hussein who defected asserted, very credibly (and without torture) that the regime kept the cookbooks, destroyed the stocks (Army intelligence tells me they poured so much stuff into the river the future of those downstream is very scary), and were bluffing for regional influence's sake). The fact is that in addition to Cheney's 25 high crimes, there were 935 documented lies told by the White House, and their lack of ethics, integrity, and respect for the Constitution is now beyond repudiation. See for example:
State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq
I continue to be astonished that citizens of the US are not burning tires in the streets and surrounding the White House demanding the immediate exile of Dick Cheney and the appointment of a care taker Vice President, at a time when open source intelligence (OSINT) is telling all of us, and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) that Dick Cheney has promised Israel the US will nuke the Iranians between November 2008 and January 2009.
The core value of this book is NOT in the forgery, which is old news, but in the broad picture it paints of a Republic that has become a Third World dictatorship in which Cheney calls the shots, Congress is complaint (both parties be damned, the Republicans for being collaborators, the Democrats for being doormats), the war loots the individual taxpayer for Halliburton's financial benefit, and brave Americans die for an illegal, immoral war justified by a cadre of liars: Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Feith.
I read a a great deal--an almost fruitless attempt to remain sane in a time of mass insanity--and what I admire most about this author and this book is his broad focus on morality, civil liberties, and the values that differentiate true conservatives who read and value philosophy--and liberals who parrot phrases they do not understand. This is SERIOUS stuff!
In support of this author's "brief" to We the People, who should all be absorbing and then acting upon his message of paradise lost, I can only point to four more books within my Amazon limit, but urge all to look at my lists of books on evaluating Dick Cheney, on the case for impeachment, and on strategy, emerging threats, and anti-Americanism for good reason.
Will and Ariel DurantThe Lessons of History, a capstone volume on their 10-volume History of Civilization, tell us that MORALITY is a strategic asset that is priceless. Ron Suskind is right on target when he points out that it is this aspect--the loss of our national morality--that distinguishes the Bush-Cheney regime. Other Presidents have lied, cheated, and stolen, but this is the first in modern history to combine BOTH global imperialism AND domestic subversion on a scale that makes Richard Nixon look like a novice.
Max Manwaring, contributing editor of The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century, and his distingusihed authors, make the point that LEGITIMACY is the single most priceless asset for any government, for it empowers citizens and enables commerce, innovation, and civil society.
Ambassador Mark Palmer, author of Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025 points out that the US is not respected nor trusted in part because the Bush-Cheney Administration has chosen to be best pals with all but two of the 44 dictators in the world. Rendition, torture, warrantless wiretaping at home (including Guantanamo); deep secret and financial relations--at our expense--with 42 dictators busy looting and terrorizing their publics. Go figure....
Much of what the author has brought together is not new for those of us that continually monitor and agonize over crimes against the Republic, but I have to give him credit for crafting an elegant presentation that makes his book a moving and hence essential wake up call for the Republic. The people are NOT sovereign today, the people are sheep whose civil liberties, freedom of expression, right to bear arms, even their right to assemble, are all under attack.
With my final link, choosing from over 1,000 candidates, I conclude with a strong recommendation for the book Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World. America is a failed state, and it is not just Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson that are saying this, but also true conservatives steeped in thinking and integrity who are aghast at both the crimes of this Administration "in our name," and the two clowns we have running for President, neither of whom can produce a strategy to restore America in the face of the ten high-level threats to humanity, a coherent policy matrix (twelve policies from Agriculture to Water), or a draft balanced budget and notional Cabinet proving they have a clue. They do not.
The USA has become a Third World nation. We let it happen by abdicating our moral and civic responsibilities as citizens of a Republic. Right now, regardless of who "wins" in November, we all lose. THAT is the point of this great book. The Republic is adrift and sinking fast.
Learn how to do public intelligence in the public interest at Earth Intelligence Network. It's time we take back the power.