Synopses & Reviews
New York Times
columnist Frank Rich examines the trail of fictions manufactured by the Bush administration from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, exposing the most brilliant spin campaign ever waged.
When America was attacked on 9/11, its citizens almost unanimously rallied behind its new, untested president as he went to war. What they didn't know at the time was that the Bush administration's highest priority was not to vanquish Al Qaeda but to consolidate its own power at any cost. It was a mission that could be accomplished only by a propaganda presidency in which reality was steadily replaced by a scenario of the White House's own invention-and such was that scenario's devious brilliance that it fashioned a second war against an enemy that did not attack America on 9/11, intimidated the Democrats into incoherence and impotence, and turned a presidential election into an irrelevant referendum on macho imagery and same-sex marriage.
As only he can, acclaimed New York Times columnist Frank Rich delivers a step-by-step chronicle of how skillfully the White House built its house of cards and how the institutions that should have exposed these fictions, the mainstream news media, were too often left powerless by the administration's relentless attack machine, their own post-9/11 timidity, and an unending parade of self-inflicted scandals (typified by those at the New York Times). Demonstrating the candor and conviction that have made him one of our most trusted and incisive public voices, Rich brilliantly and meticulously illuminates the White House's disturbing love affair with "truthiness," and the ways in which a bungled war, a seemingly obscure Washington leak, and a devastating hurricane at long last revealed the man-behind-the-curtain and the story that had so effectively been sold to the nation, as god-given patriotic fact.
"This blistering j'accuse has vitriol to spare for George Bush calling him a 'spoiled brat' and 'blowhard' and his policies, but its main target is the PR machinery that promoted those policies to the American people. New York Times columnist Rich revisits nearly every Bush administration publicity gambit, including Iraqi WMD claims, Bush's "Mission Accomplished" triumph, the Swift-boating of John Kerry and the writing of fake prowar letters-to-the-editor from soldiers. He uncovers nothing new, but his meticulously researched recap-cum-debunking complete with appended 80-page time line comparing administration spin to actual events builds a comprehensive picture of a White House propaganda campaign to bamboozle the public, smear critics, camouflage policy disasters and win the 2002 and 2004 elections through trumped-up security anxieties. Along the way, he pillories a sycophantic media (Bob Woodward gets spanked hard), spineless Democrats and an infotainment culture that happily accommodates the Bush administration's erasure of the line between reality and fiction. Sometimes Rich's critique of Republican politics as cynical image-manipulation goes overboard, as in his 'wag the dog' theory of the Iraq war as a Karl Rove electoral maneuver; more often, though, it's on target. The result is a caustic, hard-hitting indictment of the Bush administration, timed to make a splash in the upcoming election campaign." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Occasionally the right man is at just the right place at exactly the right time with precisely the right tools, and something of real value results. This is one of those occasions; Frank Rich is that man, and his new book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina, will be of particular value to those still struggling to bring this historical moment into focus." Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times
"Though the administration may be remembered as the worst in American history, the people seem mostly silent. One wishes that Rich had explored that particular mentality along with the others he so fluently discusses." Kirkus Reviews
"If Rich is correct, which I think he is, the Bush administration has given hypocrisy a bad name." New York Times
"Rich offers a time line of events and commentary that makes the case that the government has played fast and loose with the facts regarding Iraq for political advantage." Booklist
A New York Times columnist reviews the trajectory of fictions spun by the Bush administration from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, revealing the most brilliant spin campaign ever conducted.
Demonstrating the candor and conviction that have made him one of our most trusted and incisive public voices, The New York Times
columnist Frank Rich brilliantly and meticulously illuminates the Bush administration?s disturbing love affair with ?truthiness.? Rich?s step-by-step chronicle shows how, in the wake of 9/11, a propaganda president and his advisors misled a nation into war in Iraq and how the bungled aftermath, a Washington leak, and a devastating hurricane at long last revealed the lies in a story that had been so effectively sold to the nation as God-given patriotic fact.
About the Author
Frank Rich is a columnist for The New York Times. His column focuses on American politics and popular culture. His column ran on the front page of the Sunday arts and leisure section from 2003 to 2005; it now appears in the expanded Sunday op-ed section. Rich makes regular references to South Park, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report.