Synopses & Reviews
A dramatic and damning narrative account of how America has fought the War on Terror.
In the days immediately following September 11th, the most powerful people in the country were panic-stricken. The radical decisions about how to combat terrorists and strengthen national security were made in a state of utter chaos and fear, but the key players, Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, used the crisis to further a long held agenda to enhance Presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history, and obliterate Constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment.
The Dark Side is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made terrible decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world — decisions that not only violated the Constitution to which White House officials took an oath to uphold, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda. In gripping detail, acclaimed New Yorker writer and bestselling author Jane Mayer relates the impact of these decisions — U.S.-held prisoners, some of them completely innocent, were subjected to treatment more reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition than the twenty-first century.
The Dark Side chronicles real, specific cases, shown in real time against the larger tableau of what was happening in Washington, looking at the intelligence gained — or not — and the price paid. In some instances, torture worked. In many more, it led to false information, sometimes with devastating results. For instance, there is the stunning admission of one of the detainees, Sheikh Ibn al-Libi, that the confession he gave underduress — which provided a key piece of evidence buttressing congressional support of going to war against Iraq — was in fact fabricated, to make the torture stop.
In all cases, whatever the short term gains, there were incalculable losses in terms of moral standing, and our country's place in the world, and its sense of itself. The Dark Side chronicles one of the most disturbing chapters in American history, one that will serve as the lasting legacy of the George W. Bush presidency.
"This hard-hitting expose examines both the controversial excesses of the war on terror and the home-front struggle to circumvent legal obstacles to its prosecution. New Yorker correspondent Mayer (Strange Justice) details the battle within the Bush Administration over a new anti-terrorism policy of harsh interrogations, indefinite detentions without due process, extraordinary renditions, secret CIA prisons and warrantless wiretappings. Fighting with memos and legal briefs, Mayer reports, hard-liners led by Dick Cheney, his aide David Addingtion and then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo rejected any constraints on the treatment of prisoners or limitations on presidential power in fighting terrorism, while less militant administration lawyers invoked the Constitution and international law to oppose their initiatives. As a counterpoint to the wrangling over the definition of torture and the Geneva Conventions, the author looks at the use of techniques like waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation against prisoners by the American military and CIA; her chilling account compellingly argues that this 'enhanced interrogation' regimen constitutes torture. The result is a must-read: a meticulous behind-the-scenes reconstruction of policymaking that demonstrates how legal abstractions became an ugly reality." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[G]ripping....[T]he most vivid and comprehensive account we have had so far of how a government founded on checks and balances and respect for individual rights could have been turned against those ideals." Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times
"[A]ngry and important...[Mayer] takes us, step by step, through the process by which practices and methods we associate with tyrannies became official U.S. policy." San Antonio Express-News
"Mayer's singular accomplishment is to fuse the years of events that have brought us to this pass into a single compelling narrative and to use her own considerable reportorial powers to fill in important connective and contextual events." Los Angeles Times
"[Mayer] documents some of the ugliest allegations of wrongdoing charged against the Bush administration. Her achievement lies less in bringing new revelations to light than in weaving into a comprehensive narrative a story revealed elsewhere in bits and pieces." The Washington Post
"[A] powerful, brilliantly researched and deeply unsettling book....[E]xtraordinary and invaluable..." Alan Brinkley, The New York Times Book Review
"Some of The Dark Side seems right out of The Final Days, minus Nixon's operatic boozing and weeping....The Dark Side is scarier than The Final Days because these final days aren't over yet and because the stakes are much higher." Frank Rich, The New York Times
The Dark Side is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the U.S. has made self-destructive decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world — decisions that have not only violated the Constitution and American values, but have also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda.
About the Author
Jane Mayer is the co-author of two bestselling and critically acclaimed narrative nonfiction books, Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984-1988 and Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, the latter of which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Mayer was also awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in connection with The Dark Side. She is currently a Washington-based staff writer for The New Yorker, specializing in political and investigative reporting. Before that, she was a senior writer and front-page editor for The Wall Street Journal, as well as the Journal's first female White House correspondent. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with her husband, Bill, and their daughter, Kate.