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The greatest story ever sold: the decline and fall


Description: The greatest story ever sold: the decline and fall
File name: The greatest story ever sold: the decline and fall
Every thirty pages or so I put this book down to keep my blood from boiling.
Beginning with 9/11, President Bush was given leeway by congress and the press to pursue a “war on terror”. Watching events unfold on TV, or in the newspapers, it is difficult to get a longer perspective on the marketing, and selling, of the Iraq war as a part of the war on terror. This book provides perspective, drawing on public information to provide a richly detailed account of an administration that sold a bad ide Every thirty pages or so I put this book down to keep my blood from boiling.
Beginning with 9/11, President Bush was given leeway by congress and the press to pursue a “war on terror”. Watching events unfold on TV, or in the newspapers, it is difficult to get a longer perspective on the marketing, and selling, of the Iraq war as a part of the war on terror. This book provides perspective, drawing on public information to provide a richly detailed account of an administration that sold a bad idea.
Iraq war planning dates to days after Bush #43's first inauguration. A former cabinet member confirmed the fixation on Iraq began in the first national security meeting, months before 9/11(1). Early ideas included goading Hussein into attacking first.
After 9/11 Orwellian machinations began. The Bush team rewrote, or made up, history, emphasizing shaky 'evidence' such as yellowcake uranium from Niger, vague, unsubstantiated meetings in Prague, photographs of mobile biological weapons labs (aka port-a-potties being trucked to a construction site) and other misleading, or misinterpreted, 'evidence'. The hope was that repetition would lead to belief that Iraq had WMD and was tied to international terrorism.
For this plan to work, the administration had to prevent the United Nations Weapons Inspectors from finishing their job, since there was not only no credible evidence of WMD, there were none – but facts would not interrupt war plans. Inspectors were fired, impossible deadlines were set, and once the UN was stopped the alternative story could be shaped and sold in prime time as a cause for war.
Many people don't remember Dan Rather's interview with Saddam Hussein two months before the war. Rather pressed on WMD, and Saddam said I don't have any and haven't been since the first Gulf War. Hussein was a truthful government spokesman in the whole sordid run up to war.
The three overriding government principals in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four are:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

I reread Nineteen Eighty Four last year during banned book week. The Nineteen Eighty Four Ministry of Truth and the current administration's PR machinery tried to remake or rewrite history to suit ill conceived notions. Fortunately, we have an independent press, and government officials that spoke out about the decision process. Too much wasn't adding up; journalists did their homework, dug out the truth, exposed manufactured 'evidence'. Even slavish early Bushs followers are turning on the administration, having been duped and taken for fools. One thing we have relearned is, the emperor has no clothes.
If your heart can stand it you should read this one.

1. Page 113, paraphrased from Paul O'Neil's book

Rating 4.5 of 5 ...more

Jeremy Lyon
If you're a member of that dwindling population of American citizens who sees George Bush, President, as anything other than disaster incarnate, don't read this book (or this review). And please don't vote in November.

For the rest of us, there's nothing in this book that you don't already know. But by packing all of the administration's incompetence, distortions, manipulations and outright lies of the last eight years into a single volume, Frank Rich brings home how completely destructive the B If you're a member of that dwindling population of American citizens who sees George Bush, President, as anything other than disaster incarnate, don't read this book (or this review). And please don't vote in November.

For the rest of us, there's nothing in this book that you don't already know. But by packing all of the administration's incompetence, distortions, manipulations and outright lies of the last eight years into a single volume, Frank Rich brings home how completely destructive the Bush White House has been for so many things most of care about.

I wouldn't read this book if you're trying to motivate yourself to do something about it all: it's kind of like trying to light a barbecue with liquid oxygen. You're more likely to ignite a flare of righteous indignation that reduces everything to ash than end up with a tasty grilled steak.

But hey, if you need a reminder why you should vote in November, this is it. ...more

Phillip

Phillip rated it it was amazing

I listened to the audiobook in my car. This book is a chronological (literally, it follows a strict timeline) account of the Bush Administration through the publishing of the book. It starts with W's upbringing and why he's so insecure of himself and rolls right into the war planning (or lack thereof). I have to admit that this was depressing as hell. I had forgotten many of the scandals and foul-ups over the last few years (since there were so many fresh ones to replace them), so to have them a I listened to the audiobook in my car. This book is a chronological (literally, it follows a strict timeline) account of the Bush Administration through the publishing of the book. It starts with W's upbringing and why he's so insecure of himself and rolls right into the war planning (or lack thereof). I have to admit that this was depressing as hell. I had forgotten many of the scandals and foul-ups over the last few years (since there were so many fresh ones to replace them), so to have them all retold and expounded upon via hindsight was a little frustrating. You just end up scratching your head, saying to yourself, "really, America, really?" So if you don't want to do that to yourself, you may want to skip it. However, if you need something to motivate you to make sure someone like W is never elected again, you must have this in your collection. ...more

Karen

Karen rated it really liked it

Are they really so manipulative? Are they really willing to put appearance and salesmanship over substance and responsible governing? Do they really have so little regard for their country's citizenry? Do they really lie that much? Do they really think we're that stupid? Do they really think they can backtrack and cover every mistake?

Well, apparently they are and they do. This book clinches it: I have no doubt that if George Bush could run again, his minions could once again manipulate the masse Are they really so manipulative? Are they really willing to put appearance and salesmanship over substance and responsible governing? Do they really have so little regard for their country's citizenry? Do they really lie that much? Do they really think we're that stupid? Do they really think they can backtrack and cover every mistake?

Well, apparently they are and they do. This book clinches it: I have no doubt that if George Bush could run again, his minions could once again manipulate the masses into voting for him.

This book traces Bush's forays into foreign and domestic affairs and his complete disregard for fact while developing his response. Most interesting is Bush's use of the media, so effectively at first and then with growing disdain as questions about his motives arise.

It's all in here - Bush's problems over the lack of WMD, his disinterest in Osama bin Laden and 9/11, his vastly delayed response to Katrina, the Valerie Plame case, and the growing unrest in his own party, who slowly, latently, is beginning to see exactly what kind of person they've championed.

Eminently readable and entertaining in its style, I still found I could only take this book a chapter at a time. Sometimes it's easier to read a book that is forthright about its political bias. This one is so factual and concrete, with so much evidence to support its theme, with such far reaching consequences, it transcends the political. It's just sad. ...more

Henry

Henry rated it liked it

I learned most of what I know about '80s American politics by watching SNL reruns on Comedy Central; fortunately, future generations won't have to suffer that show to know what's going on right now because they'll be able to read the breezy, current events sum up that is Frank Rich. Putting everything that's happened lately (ca. 2000-2006) in context leads to some valuable insights, especially with Rich's background as a theater/pop culture critic. Exceptional sentence structure, a large vocabul I learned most of what I know about '80s American politics by watching SNL reruns on Comedy Central; fortunately, future generations won't have to suffer that show to know what's going on right now because they'll be able to read the breezy, current events sum up that is Frank Rich. Putting everything that's happened lately (ca. 2000-2006) in context leads to some valuable insights, especially with Rich's background as a theater/pop culture critic. Exceptional sentence structure, a large vocabularly, and a good sense of humor are a big plus, too. (He's a good writer!) Not the sort of book that will be remembered and reprinted for centuries, it will at least remind you, with dazzling prose, of how clear the case is that Bush & Co. are homicidal liars and the press their servants. It even comes with a valuable timeline that shows you when the Administration specifically lied and how. ...more

Evan Casey

Evan Casey rated it really liked it

While certainly a book that may appeal a bit more to Democrats and those that lean to the left, his approach in tackling the Bush administration's is a reasonable, well-researched, and meticulously crafted one that few rational people could argue with. It was a joy to read not only because I strongly agree with the politics of it, but also because Rich is such an excellent writer that the story itself becomes interesting to read. In addition to that, I learned so much about the events of the pas While certainly a book that may appeal a bit more to Democrats and those that lean to the left, his approach in tackling the Bush administration's is a reasonable, well-researched, and meticulously crafted one that few rational people could argue with. It was a joy to read not only because I strongly agree with the politics of it, but also because Rich is such an excellent writer that the story itself becomes interesting to read. In addition to that, I learned so much about the events of the past six years that I did not know before, by reading this book. Through the elegant use of words, good humor, and a great many facts and footnotes, Rich crafts an eloquent argument (that I wish I had the knowledge to develop and put forth myself) in dismantling the Bush administration's facade of deceit. ...more

Niki

Niki rated it liked it

Rich's book traces the latticework of lies built by the Bush (II) administration to guide the nation into war with Iraq. He focuses not only on the administration's public relations techniques to sell the war, but the press's complicity. But why the press choose to abdicate its investigatory role goes relatively unexamined. (Or rather, it's examined, but not as deeply as I would have preferred.)

If you hadn't lived through the build-up to the Iraq war and only had Rich's book as a guide, you wou Rich's book traces the latticework of lies built by the Bush (II) administration to guide the nation into war with Iraq. He focuses not only on the administration's public relations techniques to sell the war, but the press's complicity. But why the press choose to abdicate its investigatory role goes relatively unexamined. (Or rather, it's examined, but not as deeply as I would have preferred.)

If you hadn't lived through the build-up to the Iraq war and only had Rich's book as a guide, you would never know that there was quite a bit of skepticism over the administration's claims, and that even on the eve of war, plenty of people were not only against it, but clear about the administration's motives and its deception. That those things were known and didn't have any effect seems to be a fascinating and troubling part of the story that future works on this question should analyze in greater detail.

A good book, though, for people who were outside the political debate surrounding the Iraq war. There's a handy timeline at the back that juxtaposes what the adminstration said and what it was actually doing. ...more

Jimbonk

This is a very good book. Eye opening on the whole "Bush is a fucking jerk-off retard" mindset. It gives you a list of all the shit this asshole (and his friends) have put the mindless country through, and why, and how. The author is of course a lefty, liberal, democrat, or what have you. But he manages to tell this story as fact and not bias. It is not a book used to rile people up to hate our current government. It is simply a chronological recount of the things that actually happened, that th This is a very good book. Eye opening on the whole "Bush is a fucking jerk-off retard" mindset. It gives you a list of all the shit this asshole (and his friends) have put the mindless country through, and why, and how. The author is of course a lefty, liberal, democrat, or what have you. But he manages to tell this story as fact and not bias. It is not a book used to rile people up to hate our current government. It is simply a chronological recount of the things that actually happened, that these people actually did. Rich simply says, "Hey, look at this! Can you believe this actually happened? These people are incredible!" From the almighty 9/11 to Katrina, this book shows how Bush and his cronies got us stuck in a quagmire in Iraq, and why. Read it. Be inspired. Vote. ...more

Will Byrnes

The subtitle tells it all, “the decline and fall of truth from 9/11 to Katrina.” This book is about how the Bush administration, with their willing accomplices in the media have made a casualty of truth. It is not, as one might expect it to be, a compilation of his NY Times op ed pieces, but a well ordered, easy to read overview of what lies were told, when, by whom and to whom. Good stuff. I doubt that any Republican would get past ten pages though. Although Rich offers plenty of concrete examp The subtitle tells it all, “the decline and fall of truth from 9/11 to Katrina.” This book is about how the Bush administration, with their willing accomplices in the media have made a casualty of truth. It is not, as one might expect it to be, a compilation of his NY Times op ed pieces, but a well ordered, easy to read overview of what lies were told, when, by whom and to whom. Good stuff. I doubt that any Republican would get past ten pages though. Although Rich offers plenty of concrete examples and reasons for his views, he allows his scorn of these evil gnomes to shine through a bit too obviously. There is a lengthy, 70 pages or so, section at the back end with two columns. On the left, are the actual events in a timeline. On the right are the statements (lies) that were told and when. A nifty piece. Although I enjoyed the book and it never hurts to get information reinforcement for my challenged memory, it did strike me that Rich was preaching to the choir, as I doubt many who are not already clued in to the current white house crowd would plunk down their cash for the book. ...more

Rajesh Kurup

Rajesh Kurup rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Halfway into the Obama presidency and I remember why I said I'd rather vote for a shrub over Bush after reading this book. The level of deception and manipulation that occurred during the Bush administration was truly astounding. What's unbelievable is reading about people who are joining "Miss me Yet" groups on Facebook. I really wish that voters could read this book when they go to polls in November 2012.

Ok, this is a book review, not the opportunity for a rant. But, I suspect that one's reac Halfway into the Obama presidency and I remember why I said I'd rather vote for a shrub over Bush after reading this book. The level of deception and manipulation that occurred during the Bush administration was truly astounding. What's unbelievable is reading about people who are joining "Miss me Yet" groups on Facebook. I really wish that voters could read this book when they go to polls in November 2012.

Ok, this is a book review, not the opportunity for a rant. But, I suspect that one's reaction to this book will be purely based upon one's politics. Rich has thoroughly researched his subject and does a solid job of laying out his case. His case is that the purpose of the Bush administration was to serve the Bush administration. As he says, had 9/11 never occurred, Bush was setting out to be a very non-descript President. He got to power and went about handing out jobs to undeserving candidates whose sole achievement was helping get Bush elected. Which would be fine had 9/11 and Katrina never happened. But they did and the American public paid the price for the gross incompetence of the Bushies. And we will pay for a long time. 2 unfunded wars, massive tax cuts for the wealthy and an unfunded Medicare prescription later, and the economy is in shambles. Not to mention the where the poorly handled wars has left our foreign policy and reputation.

Central to his case was the media compliance early into the post 9/11 world. The media, including respected newspapers such as the New York Times gladly went along for the ride as Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney laid out the case for the Iraq war. It was only after the weapons of mass destruction never materialized that they began to actually investigate. The same also holds true for Congress. BOTH sides of the aisle played along and approved the war and it's crazy funding (outside of the budget), the tax cuts, the deregulation of Wall Street, the expansion of Medicare, etc.

So here's to hoping that we Won't Get Fooled Again. But, I doubt it. ...more

Samantha

Samantha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I expected a lot more from this book because Frank Rich wrote it. I had seen him on some news programs about current and cultural events and knew he had written for the NY Times. I just wanted it to be more. I felt like it was a laundry list of events without detailed explanation and analysis. I thought Mr. Rich was going to give his take on events and actions, but he chose to just present them in the order that has now been discovered that they happened in. He's looking back on things that happ I expected a lot more from this book because Frank Rich wrote it. I had seen him on some news programs about current and cultural events and knew he had written for the NY Times. I just wanted it to be more. I felt like it was a laundry list of events without detailed explanation and analysis. I thought Mr. Rich was going to give his take on events and actions, but he chose to just present them in the order that has now been discovered that they happened in. He's looking back on things that happened anywhere from 2 to 7 years ago and I thought he could tell us about the why instead of just the when or how. I would recommend this book to anyone just wanting to see the order that the Bush adminstration did things in and what happened before and after. ...more

Jon

Jon rated it it was amazing

This is a very interesting read. Most people know the media bends the facts and skew things to fit some agenda. But what happens when a government does this? Hires people to fake news? Fake truth? And how do they get away with it? Anyone of any political persuaion should read this book. Just because this is a critque of a Republican administration doesn't mean they are the only ones to have done this. People need to develop a healthy skepticisim and NOT buy into the Limbaughs and O'Reilly's of t This is a very interesting read. Most people know the media bends the facts and skew things to fit some agenda. But what happens when a government does this? Hires people to fake news? Fake truth? And how do they get away with it? Anyone of any political persuaion should read this book. Just because this is a critque of a Republican administration doesn't mean they are the only ones to have done this. People need to develop a healthy skepticisim and NOT buy into the Limbaughs and O'Reilly's of this world... or people from the opposite side. Find out who is behind the so called "news", the "experts" who appear on TV. People will be surprised who pays whom to say what and for what reason. Follow the money. ...more

Barbara

Barbara rated it really liked it

everyone was starting to salivate over bush last week as he opened his library so i read this book to recap his tenure in office. anyone who had someone killed or injured in iraq or, for that matter, any iraqi, should be irate that bush, cheney, rumsfeld, rice, wolfowitz, feitz, powell and rove are not rotting in jail for their crimes. i followed all this in real time but seeing it all presented in one book made it stunningly clear how dangerous it is to elect a shallow-thinking ambitious person everyone was starting to salivate over bush last week as he opened his library so i read this book to recap his tenure in office. anyone who had someone killed or injured in iraq or, for that matter, any iraqi, should be irate that bush, cheney, rumsfeld, rice, wolfowitz, feitz, powell and rove are not rotting in jail for their crimes. i followed all this in real time but seeing it all presented in one book made it stunningly clear how dangerous it is to elect a shallow-thinking ambitious person to the presidency. its amazing that the u.s. survived him. ...more

Alison

Alison rated it it was amazing

Just when you thought you'd been furious with the Bush administration for the last time, another book comes along to get your blood boiling all over again. Rich concentrates on the "selling" part of everything from the wars to Katrina, with emphasis on the complicity of the media. Compelling reading. And there's even a "final word" on why we went into Iraq--which is more cynical than any I had heard before but pretty convincing when you've read the whole saga. And the man can write.

Greg

Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I think what I liked most about this book was that it reminded me of the feelings I was having during the years following the 9/11 attacks and wondering if it was so wrong to not feel a particular sense of pride in the country or patriotism surrounding our decisions to go to war and engage in war in the ways we did. I won't pretend I had a full understanding of the situation and the issues the world and America were facing(I was quote young and didn't even remotely read a newspaper or otherwise I think what I liked most about this book was that it reminded me of the feelings I was having during the years following the 9/11 attacks and wondering if it was so wrong to not feel a particular sense of pride in the country or patriotism surrounding our decisions to go to war and engage in war in the ways we did. I won't pretend I had a full understanding of the situation and the issues the world and America were facing(I was quote young and didn't even remotely read a newspaper or otherwise follow important world issues or politics) but I knew that I felt something wasn't quite right. This books unpacks the way in which the administration took advantage of the uncertainty and ambiguity of the times and the emotions people were feeling. It is somewhat inconclusive as to exactly what the motivation for this behavior was and that will likely be a hotly debates issue that is never clearly resolved. It was particularly interesting to hear the critiques of Bob Woodward's books, especially the early ones (one of which I never read). I think Woodward's writing is compelling but has always felt a little unsatisfying and I haven't been able to articulate why. I don't know that this provides an answer but it gives me something to think about. ...more

Jim
This is a stark account of the manipulation of the news media and the American people by the George W. Bush in order to fulfill its goal (set months before the attacks of 9/11) to invade Iraq and achieve regime change by toppling Saddam Hussein. The book almost takes one's breath away by the audacity, hubris and lack of principles by the neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration. Bush and his people decided to create their own reality - they ensured that the evidence matched their desire to i This is a stark account of the manipulation of the news media and the American people by the George W. Bush in order to fulfill its goal (set months before the attacks of 9/11) to invade Iraq and achieve regime change by toppling Saddam Hussein. The book almost takes one's breath away by the audacity, hubris and lack of principles by the neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration. Bush and his people decided to create their own reality - they ensured that the evidence matched their desire to invade Iraq - WMD weapons of destrucction; a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda that resulted in the tragedies of 9/11. All of this was fiction. The war itself, according to the author, was fought almost in accordance with a political timetable developed by Karl Rove and the president's other political advisors in an effort to create a permanent Republican dominated government in Washington.

The sad thing is that this manufactured war led to so many lost lives - both American and Iraqi. Brave men and women went to fight a war that was driven by the political motives of G. W. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield and Wolfowitz. And the American people bought the administration's lies and falsehoods for so long before waking up.

The author concludes that the Bush Administration may be the worst ever in the history of the U.S. Its legacy includes "the destruction of America's image, credibility and prestige abroad; record budget deficits produced by unchecked spending and tax cuts; an abused and broken military; a subversion of the Constitution achieved by rigidly ideological judicial appointments; the abridgment of civil liberties and outright lawbreaking in the White House; an indifference to environmental imperatives;" etc. etc. etc.

This is an important book that should wake up the American people. Unfortunately, I fear it will not have that effect. The political fabric of this country is too polarized and the government of our country is too broken. These too facts may be the true legacy of the Bush Administration! ...more

Steven Peterson

Steven Peterson rated it liked it

This is a book that gets one to thinking, but it can also irritate one.
Its unremittingly critical tone toward the Bush Administration puts one off. Goodness knows that the Bush Administration engaged in "Swift Boating" at the slightest provocation (i.e., if one disagree with the official Administration line), but critics might better refrain from going over the top.

Nonetheless, that said, the volume is interesting and valuable reading. By now, it is clear that much of the information used to j This is a book that gets one to thinking, but it can also irritate one.
Its unremittingly critical tone toward the Bush Administration puts one off. Goodness knows that the Bush Administration engaged in "Swift Boating" at the slightest provocation (i.e., if one disagree with the official Administration line), but critics might better refrain from going over the top.

Nonetheless, that said, the volume is interesting and valuable reading. By now, it is clear that much of the information used to justify the invasion of Iraq was bogus, whether through honest errors or through manipulation. The book provides ample illustration of such errors and certainly suggests that there was some degree of manipulation of information to "hype" the case for war.

Rich's book argues that both the media and the so-called "loyal opposition," Democrats, were unwilling to explore the contentions and evidence advanced by the Administration in the run up to the Iraqi invasion. They accepted without much reflection the "spin" of the Administration, its constructions of reality. If accurate, of course, this reflects poorly on the political system's ability to develop "checks and balances" to address key issues. Democrats appear to have been cowed by the political implications of resisting the movement toward war; some media figures appeared all too willing to join the Administration's "spin" machine.

One additional twist to the volume is the inclusion of a nearly eighty page appendix at the end, in which Rich notes in the left hand column what the Administration knew and, listed in the right hand column, what it was expressing publicly. By juxtaposing the two, readers can assess in their own minds the extent to which the Administration was spinning when it was aware that evidence did not live up to public expressions. This is a most intriguing, and useful, feature of this book.

While this book would be more effective with less anger, it is a valuable part of the discourse on the "War on Terror" that adds considerably to the larger discussion.
...more

Richard Gill
The Greatest Story Ever Sold
By Frank Rich

I’ve had this Audio book for quite a while but it took me a long time to get to it. It wasn’t because I was too busy, but I think because I was afraid to read it. The title itself provides a strong indication of what the contents might contain, and suggests the book will provide at least a summary of the author’s research that led to his conclusion. Frank Rich did not disappoint. He uses certifiable facts to build a case proving the second Bush administr The Greatest Story Ever Sold
By Frank Rich

I’ve had this Audio book for quite a while but it took me a long time to get to it. It wasn’t because I was too busy, but I think because I was afraid to read it. The title itself provides a strong indication of what the contents might contain, and suggests the book will provide at least a summary of the author’s research that led to his conclusion. Frank Rich did not disappoint. He uses certifiable facts to build a case proving the second Bush administration was not giving the true story to the public concerning our country’s efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11.

Rich relates only the facts proving his case. In no way does he suggest any motive or offer opinions about the legality or morality of the administration’s actions. By leaving those judgments to the reader he had done a great service to this country and a rare opportunity to its citizens. We have been given the proof that the corruption of our government is not only possible but has actually happened on an unbelievably large scale. What is done about it is left up to us. It is a figurative call to arms reminiscent of Paine’s Common Sense.

This nation would be well served if, at least, our colleges and universities, if not our public schools, were to require reading both and if they dumped one or two of their fluff courses to make room for intelligent discussion and comparison of those two texts by all students.

I highly recommend The Greatest Story Ever Sold to all Americans.
...more

David

David rated it liked it

pretty thorough takedown of the G. W. Bush administration on the theme that they were incompetent, manipulative (esp. of the mainstream media, who come in for a lot of bashing here), and deceitful. Most of the focus is on the run-up to the Iraq War, but there is also Hurricane Katrina recovery effort etc. Helpful timeline in the back of the book contrasts what document discovery shows was known when vs. what was said publicly about the hunt for Weapons of Mass Destruction (or "weapons of mass de pretty thorough takedown of the G. W. Bush administration on the theme that they were incompetent, manipulative (esp. of the mainstream media, who come in for a lot of bashing here), and deceitful. Most of the focus is on the run-up to the Iraq War, but there is also Hurricane Katrina recovery effort etc. Helpful timeline in the back of the book contrasts what document discovery shows was known when vs. what was said publicly about the hunt for Weapons of Mass Destruction (or "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities" as Bush once re-characterized the offending Hussein program).

I can imagine that Condi Rice etc. wouldn't have cooperated with this book, but as the author works at New York Times, it seems as if he could have gained access to some of the media people he criticizes and gotten more of a sense of why they, as he sees it, fell down on the job. Other than implying that Bob Woodward pulls his punches in order to gain access to insider stuff he can use in his books, there was not much analysis on this point. ...more

Tucker
The organizing principle of this book is clear: It is a comprehensive list of everything the Bush administration did wrong, big and small, in the arguments leading up to the war in Iraq and in the handling of the war itself, until 2006 when this book was published. If you cannot name any of these mistakes, you would do well to choose this book; if you're basically familiar with the accusations that eventually came to light in the press, you won't learn anything new, but you might still appreciat The organizing principle of this book is clear: It is a comprehensive list of everything the Bush administration did wrong, big and small, in the arguments leading up to the war in Iraq and in the handling of the war itself, until 2006 when this book was published. If you cannot name any of these mistakes, you would do well to choose this book; if you're basically familiar with the accusations that eventually came to light in the press, you won't learn anything new, but you might still appreciate having all the references to the famous gaffes and falsehoods in a single volume.

The author strongly criticizes the "spin" that the Bush administration put on the war, that is, he argues that they used a propagandist slant that selectively ignored reality. The problem is that the author could be criticized for doing the same thing. The book is several hundred pages long; each page includes several points on which the Bush administration did something ridiculous or deceptive. So there are about a thousand negative statements about the presidency. Notably, there is not a single positive statement about the Bush presidency anywhere in the book. There is not a single mention of anything he did right. It is one long rant about everything wrong.

I am not the best person to defend the Bush administration. I'm not fluent in the "other side's" talking points and I don't wish to be. Yet it seems to me that even if a president set out to deliberately commit a thousand sins, he would do at least one thing right by accident. The author's inability or refusal to identify anything that the Bush administration might have done well indicates that the author, too, is creating a work of spin.

Some of his complaints against the Bush administration are more serious than others. That military officials attended an inaugural ball where a war journalist joked that he was overpaid and the musical performers sang "Clap your hands!" to the amputee soldiers in attendance is surely a minor embarrassment compared to the allegation that the invasion of Iraq was based on false information and that the entire war was mishandled.

Missing from this book is any sustained attempt to inquire into the administration's motive for lying or otherwise coloring the truth about Iraq. "If Bush, Cheney, and company were lying to themselves at the same time they were lying to the country," Rich writes, "the best that can be said in their defense is that they made the same tragic error of all propagandists who come to ruin: they fell for their own scam." But why was there a scam in the first place? This question will be left to other psychologists and historians. ...more

Michel

Nothing new, alas…
"Why, of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can hope for is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war, not in Russia, not in England, not in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy Nothing new, alas…
"Why, of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can hope for is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war, not in Russia, not in England, not in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist state or a parliament or a communist dictatorship.
[…:] Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists as unpatriotic and exposing the country to danger, it works the same in any country, whatever the regime…"
—Reichsmarschalk H. Göring, Nürnberg, 1948. ...more

Frank
The Greatest Story Ever Sold is a damning, step-by-step chronicle of the Bush administration's many propaganda campaigns to manipulate and distort truth.

Laboriously researched, the text covers the administration's Iraqi WMD claims, Bush's "Mission Accomplished" triumph, the intimidation of the press, the Swift-boating of John Kerry, and much more.

Nikki

Nikki rated it really liked it

While I sometimes felt brow beaten with this, it was a good read. There's nothing "new" in here, but I did appreciate the way it was all threaded together to show the complete narrative. I would've like a bit more coverage on Katrina and even 9/11 as most of the book was about the lies sold for the Iraq war. Overall a good book and interesting read.

Zachariah

Zachariah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Good book. Probably the biggest reason I don't rate this much higher has more to do with my late reading of the book. It being 2012 and all there isn't much of this that isn't common knowledge if you've even been half listening to current events. So really had I read this sooner I might have enjoyed it more but at this late a date it was a little more boring than it should have been. I did find the timeline in the back a big help for quick reference to events as they happened. Also I think the e Good book. Probably the biggest reason I don't rate this much higher has more to do with my late reading of the book. It being 2012 and all there isn't much of this that isn't common knowledge if you've even been half listening to current events. So really had I read this sooner I might have enjoyed it more but at this late a date it was a little more boring than it should have been. I did find the timeline in the back a big help for quick reference to events as they happened. Also I think the epilogue was pretty spot on. If nothing else I say check this out at the library just for the last chapter and timeline. Unless you really want to make your way through an extremely detailed play by play of the Bush administration's blunders where the war in Iraq is concerned. ...more

David

David rated it really liked it

This book is exactly what it says it is: a comparison of the official Bush administration story with the truth, all the way from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina. After 9/11 the administration began a long campaign to increase its power, a campaign that was ultimately exposed for what it was in the aftermath of the hurricane and the government's handling of it.
There isn't really anything new here, as it came out in 2006 and many of the stories in this timeline have already been told. Mostly this is jus This book is exactly what it says it is: a comparison of the official Bush administration story with the truth, all the way from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina. After 9/11 the administration began a long campaign to increase its power, a campaign that was ultimately exposed for what it was in the aftermath of the hurricane and the government's handling of it.
There isn't really anything new here, as it came out in 2006 and many of the stories in this timeline have already been told. Mostly this is just a clear, concise history of the 4 years between the twin disasters of 9/11 and Katrina. When someone asked me about this book, I said it was like political porn for liberals. That said, it is very readable and entertainig. I still tore through it in about 3 or 4 days. ...more

Jerry Borchardt

Jerry Borchardt rated it it was amazing

An appropriately poisoned pen recounting and accounting of the George W. Bush presidency, especially considering the mendacity of the administration's rationale for invading Iraq. Frank Rich's secondary purpose is to indict a complacent news media that (largely) did not challenge the Bush administration's dubious statements about the necessity of war in Iraq, including Rich's own New York Times.

Rich's book should be read by anyone concerned to remember the dubious, even malignant, presidency of An appropriately poisoned pen recounting and accounting of the George W. Bush presidency, especially considering the mendacity of the administration's rationale for invading Iraq. Frank Rich's secondary purpose is to indict a complacent news media that (largely) did not challenge the Bush administration's dubious statements about the necessity of war in Iraq, including Rich's own New York Times.

Rich's book should be read by anyone concerned to remember the dubious, even malignant, presidency of George W. Bush and its time. He writes as a journalist who does his job very well. He is not as probing for deeper meaning as a Thomas Frank, but he has a serious issue to discuss and he informs. I liked this book very much. ...more

Catherine

A readable, well-written summary of the selling of the Iraq war to the American public, The Greatest Story is perhaps most compelling in the last third of the book, where Rich provides a side-by-side timeline of what the Bush administration knew, and what it was telling the public was true. Each item in the timeline is meticulously sourced, and the original citations of the newspaper articles, books, and reports Rich references are easily found in the footnotes to the main chapters. It makes for A readable, well-written summary of the selling of the Iraq war to the American public, The Greatest Story is perhaps most compelling in the last third of the book, where Rich provides a side-by-side timeline of what the Bush administration knew, and what it was telling the public was true. Each item in the timeline is meticulously sourced, and the original citations of the newspaper articles, books, and reports Rich references are easily found in the footnotes to the main chapters. It makes for galling reading - some of the outright falsehoods shared by key administration officials are literally breathtaking - and it's something of a disheartening wonder that we're not more angry about it, still. ...more

Sonny

If you follow Frank Rich in the NYT, you can think of this book as one long column about one thing. Rich defends his premise in an organized and data-driven manner which, although I'm already pre-disposed to believe, try to remain skeptical even to my own point of view. If his perspective can be refuted, I'd like to see it.And if this is even close to truth, we've got some criminals in the Bush administration. Read this to validate your opinions, win bets and arguments with in-laws by providing If you follow Frank Rich in the NYT, you can think of this book as one long column about one thing. Rich defends his premise in an organized and data-driven manner which, although I'm already pre-disposed to believe, try to remain skeptical even to my own point of view. If his perspective can be refuted, I'd like to see it.And if this is even close to truth, we've got some criminals in the Bush administration. Read this to validate your opinions, win bets and arguments with in-laws by providing dates, timelines & other facts. History will reference this contemporary observation. Personally, I'm convinced Bush will be judged an evil asshole. Shame on all of us for tolerating him and his crowd. ...more

Franziska

This is not a book I recommend to those who love Pres. Bush and his team unconditionally. However, I didn't like the book too much mainly because I found it hard to follow. The case Rich was trying to make didn't flow very easily and it seemed full of information that didn't clearly show me how it supported his arguments. Overall, I just found it hard to follow, make the connections and be convinced (even though I think he has a valid case). The most enjoyable/helpful part of the book to me was This is not a book I recommend to those who love Pres. Bush and his team unconditionally. However, I didn't like the book too much mainly because I found it hard to follow. The case Rich was trying to make didn't flow very easily and it seemed full of information that didn't clearly show me how it supported his arguments. Overall, I just found it hard to follow, make the connections and be convinced (even though I think he has a valid case). The most enjoyable/helpful part of the book to me was the appendix that contained a timeline on events/information that came out regarding his topic. I don't know...maybe I'm just too dumb for getting his stuff. ...more

Ken Crowley

Ken Crowley rated it really liked it

An interesting look at the decline of truthfulness from the government and the press post-9/11.

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