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A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency Paperback – Apr 8 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (April 8 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307354288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307354280
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #352,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Booklist

Bush's rise and fall are most evident in the 2002 election, which brought him control of both houses of Congress, and the 2006 election, which reversed that triumph. The president's chosen Manichean worldview and his rigid refusal to consider other viewpoints have resulted in a disastrous administration and damage the nation will be living with for generations, according to Greenwald (How Would a Patriot Act? 2006). Greenwald begins by documenting Bush's political collapse and then explores the core beliefs that have driven Bush's decision making, as well as the broader philosophical and political dangers of such strong convictions. He details how the president's absolutist moralistic worldview, the simple identification of good and evil, overshadowed decisions that required more nuanced views in the lead-up to the war in Iraq. Advisors with other points of view were ignored as Bush's strong ends-justify-the-means approach resulted in such decidedly un-American practices as indefinite detentions, use of torture, and preemptive war. This is a compelling examination of how moral beliefs can drive political decisions, with disastrous consequences. Bush, Vanessa --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“This is the best book about the worst president. Glenn Greenwald is to this administration as they've been to the country: devastating. This is more than a book: It's an act of patriotism."
—Alan Colmes, Hannity & Colmes, Fox News

“Glenn Greenwald’s excoriating analysis of the Bush presidency goes much deeper than mere polemics. His layered interpretation of the Manichean mentality that defines the Bush White House describes a disastrously inappropriate mindset for a modern power in a time of global turmoil. This early portrait of the Bush presidency and the right wingers who cheered it on will be read and appreciated for many years to come.”
—Scott McConnell, editor of The American Conservative

“In the bare-knuckle cacophony of the blogosphere Glenn Greenwald has been a beacon of clarity chronicling President Bush’s unfolding war on the rule of law.  No one is better placed to explain how the president’s embrace of extremism in the battle against extremism has put the country’s most sacred ideals, even the country itself, under the gravest threat.”
—Josh Marshall, editor of Talking Points Memo

“Glenn Greenwald has emerged as one of the nation’s most incisive and articulate exponents of the critique of the Bush Administration. In admirably clear prose and with the ferocity of a former litigator, he is day in and day out building a powerful case against an undeniably consequential and radical presidency.”
—Dan Froomkin, White House Watch columnist

“A compelling examination of how moral beliefs can drive political decisions, with disastrous consequences.”

“In A Tragic Legacy, [Greenwald] wrestles with much more significant and amorphous material as he attempts to trace the dangerous, stark philosophy underlying the most pernicious policies of the current administration and to tease out their implications for the character of this nation. To say that he succeeds is a massive understatement. From every aspect—writing, clarity of thought and most importantly, structure of the book (often neglected in similar works)—he pounds his argument home about the utter bankruptcy of thought behind the president’s words and actions: This is extremism. This is immoral. This is, ultimately, un-American at its core.”
—Daily Kos

"[Greenwald] has constructed an impressive argument about the basic template of the Bush Administration, and how it has tried to permanently alter America and our relationship to the world. Anyone who wants to successfully challenge and change that legacy owes it to themselves to read this book as an indispensable guide to how to proceed."
—Paul Rosenberg,

"Greenwald has crafted for us and the world a moving, cathartic, and insightful book that hopefully will give the non-blogging public a new level of comprehension as to the dangers we face under an unbridled chief executive whose view of the world is not much more nuanced nor a great deal less fanatical than that of, say, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who also just so happens to believe that he’s on a personal 'Mission from God'. Ignore this book at your peril."

From the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9dd16f00) out of 5 stars 80 reviews
427 of 452 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d797b70) out of 5 stars Impecable research June 26 2007
By Tom Markus - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As a diehard Republican, I read this book very skeptically. The only reason Greenwald was able to convince me was because of the exhaustive research and sourcing he did. The book drew me in immediately and I couldn't put it down for the whole day. I highly recommend it for anyone who has slight doubts about Bush but is afraid like I was to challenge our GOP leadership. Greenwald has real guts to come out with a politically incorrect reality that we all must deal with.
105 of 110 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d797bc4) out of 5 stars A Sad Commentary July 2 2007
By Mind-Body-Spirit - Published on
Format: Hardcover
President Bush has been the recipient of innate American loyalty to the office he holds, for far too long. Many of us who saw the handwriting on the wall years ago, still found it hard to admit how badly our country was being served by this President. Now the blinders are off and thanks in part to Glenn Greenwald, we can see much more clearly now.

In an insightful and dispassionate portrayal of the Bush administration, Greenwald has identified what he sees as one of the core flaws of President Bush's approach to world diplomacy and the governing of our country- good vs. evil and an overly simplistic view of the world.

The author describes Mr. Bush's approach to the Presidency, as antiquated and out of touch with the world today. Mr. Bush has fallen back on fundamentalist thinking, and by that I mean, a bleary-eyed black and white view of things. The world isn't that simple, and simple approaches don't work on complex issues. Greenwald outlines some of the ways in which Mr. Bush with his limited thinking and "Quickdraw McGraw" tactics, has irrefutably damaged our country and the world's perception of the US.

This author has very fairly critiqued the President's performance, and shares the whys and wherefores that formed his view of "Bushworld" and some suggestions on how the US can regain world respect.

This is a must-read book, for those who want to make sure that the next President we elect, represents the US, its policies and its citizens fairly and intelligently. We need an effective intelligent President, to help us to dig out of the hole in which we now find ourselves. This is a great book, and written in such an unbiased way, than even Bush fans will have to acknowledge the truth revealed here.
166 of 181 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d79a018) out of 5 stars as good as you'd expect June 26 2007
By T. Tucker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I had about two hours with an advance copy of this a few days ago and it seems every bit as good as I'd expect.

Glenn Greenwald is unique among political observers in terms of his ability to archive information and mold that information into arguments that are very difficult to refute. This may have to do with his past as a constitutional lawyer. Certainly, his arguments are made with a lawyerly meticulousness.

I tend to think the premise is right on: while it's easy to see Bush primarily as incompetent or even evil, this book makes the case -- convincingly -- that Bush's greatest weakness is a tendency to view the world in black and white. That is probably most clear with his middle eastern policy but it informs many domestic decisions as well, as Greenwald makes clear. When assessing a presidency -- both its motives and its aims -- it's important to look at the body of evidence and not engage in arm chair psychology. That is where this book's strength lies: the evidence it assembles is overwhelming.

This book is in some ways a tough read. It's not jokey or catty the way much political writing is these days. It demands a lot of concentration. But if you want to understand where the Bush presidency went wrong, you need to take a look at this.
83 of 88 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d79a3d8) out of 5 stars Changed My Thinking on Politics June 26 2007
By Matt Stoller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've been blogging for five years or so, working in political organizing to bring change to the country. At a certain point in such a career, you kind of feel like your political framework is basically set, that though there is a lot of new information to learn the basic contours of how to understand our political system are in place. Not so. I read this book, and it helped me understand the danger of dogmatic thinking, the danger of writing off debate, and the importance of humility. It's not that, morally speaking, humility is a nice trait. What Greenwald shows is that the lack of said trait, and the absolute certitude of mind is at the core of how Bush has operated and how this man has destroyed himself, his Presidency, and how we as a country have ruined a great deal of our national fiber. It's an important idea that deserves wide discussion.
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d79a4bc) out of 5 stars George W. Bush's Place in History Aug. 22 2007
By Bryan Carey - Published on
Format: Hardcover
George W. Bush has a different way of viewing the world. His motives for official political policy are encouraged not by reason, open debate, or any type of sensible discussion. No, Bush issues his marching orders and conducts the running of the country by relying on something completely different: The idea of absolute moral righteousness and its correct place over the reality of evil. Bush doesn't see any gray area; doesn't consider that he might be wrong; and doesn't revamp his strategies- either foreign or domestic- when they have been shown not to work. He stubbornly moves forward, even when every indicator shows that his policies are a total and complete failure.

Many books have been written about the endless failures of the Bush presidency with each book's author offering his/her own perspective on George W. Bush, his life, his many mistakes, and the motives that make him act the way he does. I have read many of these books, and I have come away with mixed feelings on what it is that truly motivates or guides our forty- third president. Some authors make Bush sound like an out- of- control maniac. Others make him out to be just another spoiled son of a wealthy father who is enjoying his reign of power and sharing the benefits with those he calls his friends.

But among all the books I have read about George W. Bush, "A Tragic Legacy" ranks as the best of all. It marks the first time I have read a book that critiques the Bush mindset in this absolutist "good vs. bad" manner, and it really nails squarely the way that Bush views the world and how this forms the basis of his government policy decisions. It is this "good vs. evil" mentality that has led Bush in his quest to conquer "evil" nations like Iraq and to declare nations like North Korea, Iran, and others as an "Axis of Evil". Bush simplifies the world in this manner; attempting to place the different nations around the globe and the different events that take place in the world in these nice, neat, this-way-or-that-way packages.

Most people know about Bush's supposed ties to his religious faith and the president openly talks about them every now and then; sometimes sprinkling his speeches with religious language. I have always felt that Bush's religious persona was a political maneuver to win votes. But this book takes a different stand and offers convincing evidence for his theory on the Bush mind. The author believes that Bush is completely sincere when it comes to religion and that the only reason he doesn't talk even more openly about it is because he knows it doesn't make good politics. He also believes that the Manichean worldview that Bush has adopted is completely the result of his religious beliefs. And like other evangelical types, Bush is completely, 100 percent convinced he is on the side of good; making him incapable of making a bad decision and making it a requirement that he continue to fight the good fight every day, lest he be condemned in the afterlife for caving in to the forces of evil.

If you examine the president's actions, what this book says makes perfect sense. There is, without question, a tendency on the part of Bush to divide people and world events into two categories. And, invariably, it is always his side that is fighting for good. It matters not that his policies have been failures. It doesn't even matter if he lies. As the book accurately states, the Manichean thinker is so convinced of his/her own "rightness" that it pervades everything he/she does, up to and beyond the point of ever admitting a mistake. In fact, if things are going poorly, the Manichean proponent is likely to try even harder rather than admit wrongdoing.

I very much like the fact that the author wrote this book in such a calm, yet confident and respectful way. He doesn't degrade the president for thinking the way he does. He doesn't make fun or resort to name calling. Instead, he just explains the observations that he and the rest of the world has seen with Bush, adds a few good quotations, and proceeds to describe his theory about Bush's mode of thinking. He expresses himself very well, showing how Bush's thinking is so different from other presidents and explaining why it is so damaging when used to make official government decisions.

George W. Bush, the forty- third president of the United States, is going to leave a long legacy behind him. Unless something miraculous takes place in the next fifteen months, Bush will likely go down in history as one of America's worst chief executives. This tragic legacy was crafted by Bush himself and there is no one else he can blame. A good vs. evil mindset is perfectly fine for individual decision making but it has been shown over and over again to have devastating effects when used to guide government actions. This, my friends, is the legacy of George W. Bush and it is explained articulately and flawlessly in this book, "A Tragic Legacy". It is the best book I have read so far on our forty- third president.