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Family Of Secrets [Paperback]

Russ Baker
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 21 2010
“Shocking in its disclosures, elegantly crafted, and faultlessly measured in its judgments.”—Roger Morris, author of Richard Milhous Nixon and Partners in Power

How did the deeply flawed George W. Bush ascend to the highest office in the nation, what forces abetted his rise, and—perhaps most important—have those forces really been vanquished by Obama’s election? Award-winning investigative journalist Russ Baker gives us the answers in Family of Secrets, a compelling and startling new take on the Bush dynasty and the shadowy elite that has quietly steered the American republic for the past half century and more. Baker shows how this network of figures in intelligence, the military, oil, and finance enabled—and in turn benefited handsomely from—the Bushes’ perch at the highest levels of government. As Baker reveals, this deeply entrenched elite remains in power regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

Family of Secrets offers countless disclosures that challenge the conventional accounts of such central events as the JFK assassination and Watergate. It includes an inside account of George W.’s cynical religious conversion and the untold real background to the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina. Baker’s narrative is gripping, sobering, and deeply sourced. It will change the way we understand not just the Bush years, but a half century of postwar history—and the present.

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Praise for Family of Secrets:

“One of the most important books of the past ten years.”—Gore Vidal


“A tour de force … Family of Secrets has made me rethink even those events I witnessed with my own eyes.”—Dan Rather


“Shocking in its disclosures, elegantly crafted, and faultlessly measured in its judgments, Family of Secrets is nothing less than a first historic portrait in full of the Bush dynasty and the era it shaped. From revelation to revelation, insight to insight—from the Kennedy assassination to Watergate to the oil and financial intrigues that lie behind today's headlines—this is a sweeping drama of money and power, unseen forces, and the emblematic triumph of a lineage that sowed national tragedy. Russ Baker’s Family of Secrets is sure to take its place as one of the most startling and influential works of American history and journalism.”—Roger Morris, former senior staff member, National Security Council, and author of Richard Milhous Nixon: The Rise of an American Politician and Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America


“Left-wing paranoia? Baker, a solid investigative journalist, works hard to back up his claims – a reader could choke on the complex, interwoven details in Family of Secrets. He's a man on a mission, desperate to stop the “methods of stealth and manipulation that ... reflect a deeper ill: the American public's increasingly tenuous hold upon the levers of its own democracy.”—San Diego Union-Tribune


 “Prodigiously industrious investigative journalist Russ Baker…. connects the dots between the Bushes and Watergate.” —Lev Grossman, Time Magazine


Praise for Russ Baker:

“In an era dominated by corporate journalism and an ideological right-wing media, Russ Baker’s work stands out for its fierce independence, fact-based reporting, and concern for what matters most to our democracy…A lot of us look to Russ to tell us what we didn’t know.” —Bill Moyers, author and host, Bill Moyers’ Journal (PBS)


“Russ Baker has the three most important attributes of any great investigative reporter: He is skeptical, he is fearless, and he is indefatigable. Whenever he examines anything—including the most allegedly wellcovered topics—he breaks important new ground.” —David Margolick, author and contributing editor, Vanity Fair

About the Author

Russ Baker is an awardwinning investigative journalist. He has written for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, the Nation, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Village Voice, and Esquire, and has served as a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. He is the founder of WhoWhatWhy/the Real News Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization, operating at

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Web of Sinister Deception Feb. 22 2010
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
There is an ever-pressing need in this muddled and perplexing world of ours for the investigative services of independent journalists like Russ Baker, author of "Family of Secrets". In this study, Baker assesses the role the extended Bush family has played over three generations in influencing and shaping American politics from behind the scenes. As Baker readily admits, this book charts a different course of inquiry as it seeks to look at the little-known, clandestine side of a very powerful family of national politicians dedicated to gaining and wielding power at the highest levels of government over nearly a century. What is so remarkable about this saga is that the Bushes - Prescott, George W.H. and G.W - have duped many Americans into regarding them as legitimate dynasts when all along they been directly and indirectly associated with some of the most contemptible and undemocratic forces in the Union. Motivating them at all times has been the desire to promote and protect the interests of Big Oil and right-wing industrialists in their efforts to expand globally. While this part of the story is hardly revealing, the intricate history of their covert actions to make sure these causes succeeded, through direct involvement in the OSS and the CIA, is the stuff of chilling espionage and political subversion. Read this book and you might end up despising the Bushes even more for the secretive roles they may very well have played in the JFK assassination, the ousting of Nixon, the Iran Contra affair, the Iraq War, and numerous other events. Whichever Bush it was who was calling the shots from positions of authority - CIA director, UN ambassador, VP, President or Senator - this family knows how to close ranks when one of its own comes under public scrutiny. Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must read. Nov. 2 2009
The best non fiction so far this year.

Here are a few questions for you.

Name US Presidents and future Presidents who were in Dallas on Nov. 22nd, 1963.

Can you remember what you were doing when you heard Kennedy was shot?

Which of the above future US Presidents changed his story about his activities that day? Which one had a memory lapse?

Who brought down Richard Nixon?

Which American bank funded the Nazis? Which Bush family member?

Russ Baker has done a great job investigating why the United States allowed George W. Bush to become the 43rd. President. Was George absent without leave? Was George a deserter? What part did George H. W. play while in CIA? How did 41 ensure that 43 survived his rocky past business dealings in his rise to the top?
Readers will find that "born again" George was not always opposed to abortion.
The Savings and Loan debacle and the new financial tsunami have powerful Bush influence; Russ Baker backs up his strong evidence with footnotes.
This book deserves to be required reading in all US and Canadian institutes of education.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant work of investigation April 24 2014
By Keith Little TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Russ Baker has written an excellent book and done us all a great service - particularly so when the orthodox US media has abandoned any pretence of asking tough questions of those in power. The Bush family, to use Churchill's quote, is "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma". Baker gets to the roots and origins of the family and their highly secretive behind-the-scenes wheelings and dealings. It's an amazing job actually, one that truly inspires awe when compared to the mundane whimperings of the broader press - the established journalists seem far more interested in toadying up to power and providing sycophantic nonsense than in doing what Baker has done. History, future generations, will be kind to Russ Baker and acknowledge the work that went into this book as far more important than what was printed in the New York Times or Washington Post.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading Aug. 1 2010
By Canuk
For people who prefer a more investigative slant to their news, this book is for you. Backed up with good footnotes, this book provides a perspective which is never talked about in the mainstream press. Given the scope of this book, I'm sure he could have written another 500 pages. The sheer number of people involved is astounding as is their connections amongst one another. I would personally suggested that the reader take this book in parts and make use of the footnotes (which are in the hundreds).
It does get complicated in parts, but bear with it. The book flows very well and connects easily from chapter to chapter. One thing which is guaranteed is that once you are introduced to a specific person that person will appear over and over again throughout. It is an amazing and somewhat scary view into the Bush Family.
If this book doesn't inspire you to do something about the world, nothing will.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  305 reviews
537 of 571 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Book Dec 18 2008
By Richard Cummings - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America

French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre said that "words are loaded pistols." In the hands of Russ Baker, they are hydrogen bombs. On each and every page of his masterpiece, "Family of Secrets," he exploses the myths and lies that powerful forces have perpetratred on the American consciousness. He digs beneath the surface in a form of journalistic archeology to reveal the hidden history of one of America's most powerful families, leaving no stone unturned. Moreover, he names all of his sources and documents the materials he relies on to unmask the hypocrisy behind the myth. From Prescott Bush's ties to Nazi Germany to Poppy Bush's secret role in the Watergate scandal that ousted Richard Nixon, which was, in fact, a "silent coup," to George W. Bush's deceit in launching the war in Iraq, Russ Baker unmasks the truth with a relentless brilliance unmatched by his peers. His publisher, Bloomsberry, is to be congratulated for its confidence in Russ Baker at a time when most publishers are hedging their bets and looking over their shoulders in acts of self-censorship. Baker's revelations about George W. Bush's private life is worth the price of the book alone. Here is Bush, forcing himself on a Danish beauty, stripping to the nude, while getting another girl friend he knocks up an abortion, and then later, as president, opposing abortion and cutting funding for organizations that provide information about birth control. How he managed to get the Danish beauty to go on record, as he does with other key players in Watergate and the Kennedy assassination, is nothing short of astonishing. He traces the true history of Poppy Bush's career, from his early ties to the CIA he pretended never existed while declaring himself "out of the loop," to his strange phone call from Dallas to the FBI on the day of Kennedy's assassination, pointing a finger at a suspect who was in fact totally innocent, to his manipulation of Watergate to get rid of Nixon, is a secret story forced out of the shadows by the powerful documentation by Baker in this tour de force that keeps you turning the pages in asonishment. What he discloses is America's War of the Roses, as powerful families fight to the death for ultimate power. The history of Lee Harvey Osward in the world of wealth, power and intelligence that was Dallas, Texas at the time, is amazing. The anodyne courses in political science and history at American colleges and universities need very much to inject Family of Secrets into the curriculum so that young Americans can be more able to understand what America is truly about as a new president strives to change and reform it. It puts the dots together in a way that makes any further naivety amongst Americans impossible. What he tells us simply cannot be ignored. One can fully expect the Establishment media to go after this book in typical fashion, as they make their usual attempt to cover up what can no longer be denied. Family of Secrets takes to what Cyril Connolly so aptly descibed as the "blood crossroads of literature and politics." After Family of Secrets, neither will ever be the same.
235 of 249 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tantalizing clues of covert operations, oil and America's position in the world March 16 2009
By Christopher K. Halbower - Published on
Russ Baker's book "Family of Secrets" takes the reader on a tantalizing journey into the Bush family. Baker's unabashed goal was to answer the question "How did Bush happen?"

As Baker began his intensive research into George W Bush, he found that in order to understand George Jr., one must first look at George Sr. This led him to inquire about the Bush clan in general, raising the blinds on this most secretive of families.

The book is comprised of 23 chapters. Of these, Baker spends the first 16 discussing George H W Bush (called Poppy by those close to him). The remaining 7 chapters are about George W Bush and those in his specific orbit.

Russ Baker makes a strong circumstantial case that George H W Bush was involved in intelligence work long before his 1974 CIA stint appointment. The actual evidence that would verify this is unavailable to the public in general as the CIA does not like inquiries.

Those who surround Poppy Bush seemed to be tinged by covert, intelligence operations. A few examples are: his father Prescott Bush, Neil Mallon and George DeMohrenschildt. The intelligence apparatus that evolved from WWII (the OSS) would become known as the CIA. And many in Bush's orbit were somehow connected to the OSS, the CIA or to covert missions in WWII.

Building upon this, Baker argues that the world of covert operations, including propaganda and psyops, is able and willing to suppress information and diseminate disinformation. The gatekeepers of knowledge tend to have ties to the CIA--including the Watergate journalist Bob Woodward.

The world of covert operations goes hand in hand with the oil industry and the world of international finance. The oil industry has acted as a kind of vanguard for US covert operations. This includes Poppy's oil rigs in the Caribbean that would be the training grounds for Cuban exiles before the Bay of Pigs. To fund covert operations, an intelligence agency needs funding. This is where international financial institutions play a role. The motivation: when a covert operation topples a regime, the financial institute gets first crack at exploiting the resources of the country.

Baker discusses the forces that brought Poppy Bush into the Nixon White House. Prescott Bush, he suggests, was the one who arranged for Nixon to first run for the open Republican Congressional seat in California in 1946. And George and Prescott are visible in the shadows during Nixon's rise to power--Prescott as a US Senator from Connecticut and George as a covert operative in several strategic regions around the world.

During his two terms as VP under Eisenhower, Nixon was in charge of several covert operations. And those in George Bush's close knit circle left their fingerprints all over these operations.

When Nixon became president, the name George H W Bush was considered for the VP slot. Nixon went with his own choice instead. Then Nixon wanted Helms at the CIA to give him all the materials regarding the covert actions Nixon had taken during the 50's. Helms balked. The result: Watergate.

The Watergate scandal, which undid the Nixon presidency, was perpetrated by CIA agents. All the major books on Watergate to come out in the past two decades confirm that Nixon was set up. And Baker concurs. But Baker goes on to implicate Bush as being complicit in this. Bush, along with Kissinger and Haig, was one of the few to survive the scandal. And with Nixon gone, the US got a new president: Gerald Ford.

The Ford adminstration saw the commission of what was to be called the "Halloween Massacre"--the elimination of several staffers and cabinet members who were loyal to Nixon. And Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld oversaw and coordinated this "massacre".

How do you explain many strange events in American history without resorting to covert/intelligence operations? Bush's fingerprints can be found on the Iran/Contra scandal: a covert operation if ever there was one. Bush support for 3rd world dictators (Noriega, Hussein, Marcos) can easily be explained if you look for the web of intelligence.

And riding on his dad's coattails is young George W Bush. Where Poppy went wrong, George W seemed to correct: managing the media to spin all inquiries; politicizing every government agency; handing out juicy contracts to cronies.

Baker's book is filled with innuendos and suggestions. This is its greatest failing. The circumstantial evidence in many cases is compeling. However, in some cases it is lacking. The true value of Baker's research will be seen in the years to come. Future researchers can use his book and fill in the gaps where he was only able to provide circumstantial evidence.

Baker's narrative is fun but difficult to read. His prose is strong but this is not a book to be taken lightly. It weighs in at over 500 pages but reads like a book twice that length. If you are interested in American history, the Bush clan or the power of covert/intelligence operations, Baker's "Family of Secrets" receives my firm recommendation.
273 of 299 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Right is still right, even when nobody's doing it. Wrong is still wrong, even when everybody's doing it. Dec 31 2008
By James C. Moore - Published on
"All great accomplishments are the products of discipline and the force of will. To write a lasting and important book, a journalist must be relentless in pursuing detail that others have misunderstood or even ignored. The commitment to discerning the facts can never waver, regardless of the obstacles placed before the reporter. We see such non-fiction narratives too infrequently in American publishing but we have a great one before us now in Russ Baker's phenomenal `Family of Secrets.' As an investigator and as a writer of compelling narrative, Baker has created, in my estimation, an almost unequalled standard in political reportage. He has refused to accept conventional wisdom regarding the Bush family and the failed son they made president. There is no way any reasonable person can reject what Baker reports and the conclusions are profoundly disturbing. The reader becomes convinced, page after page, footnote after footnote, quote after quote, that everything we thought we knew about American history in the past 50 years was wrong. I confess that I was prepared to be dismissive. When Baker first approached me about an interview and to offer what little insight I had on years of covering the Bushes in Texas, my reaction was that he was too late and that the public had been worn out by the publishing deluge prompted by George W's incompetence and lying. Why did we need another book on the Bushes? After reading `Family of Secrets' that answer is abundantly obvious: we did not know the truth. I think we do now and Russ Baker has given it to us in a brilliant book that that will be impossible for any sensible American to ignore. I considered myself well informed on both Presidents Bush but Baker has proved that even those of us close to the subject need to reconsider the facts and to do otherwise is to jeopardize the value and purpose of our democracy. As Karl Rove, Joe Allbaugh, Karen Hughes, Mark McKinnon, Dan Bartlett, Condoleeza Rice and the rest of the outgoing administration go about their immoral task of trying to spin a more positive Bush legacy, let them confront the truths as revealed in `Family of Secrets." History will not abide any further distortions of the Bush record and when researchers seek to understand what happened to our country under the Bush family regime, let's hope they find their way to the epic work of Russ Baker. `Family of Secrets' is much more than a non-fiction narrative of political history; Baker has created an historical document that is an act of patriotism for a nation in need of self-examination and the truth."

James C. Moore - Author: "Bush's Brain," "Bush's War for Reelection," and "The Architect."
79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A courageous book Dec 26 2008
By Gary Ruskin - Published on
Russ Baker is one of America's finest investigative journalists. In Family of Secrets, Baker tackles the complex story surrounding the rise of the Bush family in American politics. The result is nothing less than a complete and disturbing re-evaluation of American history during the last half-century.

Family of Secrets is a must read for anyone who cares about modern American history or politics. The sections on the Watergate and the assassination of President Kennedy are especially startling and intriguing. This is the work of a bona fide independent journalist, and it puts to shame so much of what passes as journalism these days.

No doubt, the Bush family will strive to discredit this book. But it will be hard to do, because Family of Secrets is so richly documented, with more than 1,000 footnotes.

Family of Secrets is a compelling read, and remarkably so given the complicated story it tells. The plot has so many fascinating twists and turns that some sections read like "The Count of Monte Cristo." Baker also has lively senses of irony and humor that add a touch of levity to the book.

Inevitably, Family of Secrets asks many more questions than it can possibly answer. Many of them are quite troubling. Readers will be left wondering what really has happened to our democracy, and our country, during the last fifty years, and what we ought to do about it.
98 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars treasure trove of conspiracies Dec 18 2008
By Larry Beinhart - Published on
Russ Baker has done a marvelous job of tracking the connections. The connections - CIA - big money - oil money - with the Bushes sitting on one big fat strand of the web. He leaves little doubt that Bush the Elder was CIA all the way, from the fifties on. He goes far to unraveling the mystery of Little Bush's business failures, and how he could move from failure to failure and continue to profit.
If you have doubts about the Kennedy Assassination or the "real story" of Watergate, Baker has tracked down all the facts and the anomalies and lays them out for you.
For anyone seriously interested in alternative narratives to the official version of recent American history, this book is a must.

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