First Leavitt, now Rich. More unexciting nonfiction books by writers that I highly admire.Rich, Frank. The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina. New York: Penguin, 2006. Summary
: Former drama critic and New York Times
columnist Frank Rich documents the ways in which the Bush administration systematically lied to the public and manipulated the media in order to retain power in the face of looming public disapproval and to further serve the neocon agenda. Comments
: Okay, confession time: I LOVE Frank Rich. Keenly insightful when it comes to the nation's mood yet not overbearing in an over-clever, self-satisfied fashion a la Maureen Dowd, he's been my favorite columnist for several years now, even before he joined the elite roster at the *ahem* Paper of Record. I've never seen anyone connect what's going on in pop culture so deftly with what's going on everywhere else yet nonetheless keeping so utterly faithful to reality (Rich has never been one to trumpet the supremacy of the so-called moral values contingent, for example), and I was hoping for more of the same in this new anti-Bush administration polemic.
Unfortunately, suffice it to say that I didn't get what I was hoping for. Though this book represents a comprehensive and exhaustive summation of everything that happened in the mainstream media (most notably on TV) as it relates to the Bush presidency, and a full one-third of it is a timeline that compares the White House's oft-fictional narrative that it used to sell the war with what it is actually known to have known about the situation in the Middle East...it's TERRIBLY BORING. Save for brief appearances in the first and last chapters, the brilliant, scintillating sound-byte analysis of culture combined with politics gives way for thorough but tiresome documentation of a lot of things that I didn't want to know about the first time around a lot of things that annoyed and disgusted me when I did learn them on second exposure. Sadly, I'm just not a fan of factoid books.
Nevertheless, Rich's main thesis, that Bush and Co. systematically manipulated the media in order to sell the Iraq war to the American public and thereby maintain power to 1) continue to give handouts in the form of tax breaks to the uber-wealthy and 2) satisfy the neocons in the inside clamoring to assert American authority abroad unilaterally in the Middle East to secure Israel, is awfully hard to dispute. My fellow Americans, we've been duped and played for fools! And, if the most recent midterm elections were any indication, we know it and (allow me my brief moment of optimism, here) won't take it anymore! Notes
: hardcover, 1st edition Rating
- Staunch Bush supporters (are there any rational ones left at this point?) are gonna hatehateHATE it from the get-go, and those already convinced will find their eyes drooping, but if you're at all unsure of what has happened in the United States since the dawn of the 21st century, read this book and be enlightened.