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The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  1,656 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 13th 2004 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2004)
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Nathan
Sep 12, 2007 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Proprietary legal issues.
It's scary that this book alone didn't cause Bush to be defeated in 2004. Ron Susskind's work is excellent, and one can't help but admire former Treasury secretary O'Neill for his courage. It is also noted as being the earliest book by a Bush insider to accuse him of planning an invasion of Iraq prior to 9/11, and it remains one of the most lucid, coherent, politically sound accounts of the scope of incompetence and corruption in the Bush administration. This is not a book written by an angry li ...more
Hannah
Feb 21, 2009 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog-shelf
The two things in this book that stuck out most to me, aside from its consistent focus on how idiotic it is to ignore and avoid evidence of actual, current situations as a means to make decisions, in favor of pushing your ideologically and fantasy-based decisions, is 1) the fact that the author pointed out, VERY clearly, that the administration was 100% focused on invading Iraq to replace Saddam long BEFORE the 9/11 attacks. This was during Bush’s FIRST term. Iraq was the focus of the administra ...more
Brett
Most of what were revelations when this book was first released are just something that pretty much everybody knows about the Bush administration. Bush was not intellectually curious? Bush and his advisors wanted war with Iraq long before 9/11? Bush wasn't really concerned with deficits? All these seem pretty obvious to those of us that lived through the administration. Yet, O'Neill/Suskind's book was the first to say many of these things that are now cliches.

Now that time has passed since the
...more
Sharon Joag
Aug 06, 2008 Sharon Joag rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Politically Savy
Recommended to Sharon by: NPR News Radio
Shelves: current-events
I am a quarter of the way through this book and each time I read another page, I have a "Wow" reaction, completely different from the "Wow" reaction I had on the page before.

Its unbelievable how blind we all were during the Bush Administration.

I'm half way through this book. It amazes me still. I cannot believe that Bush actually would zone out at meetings. He focused more on food than on anything else. Any how that's how it is depicted in Ron Suskind's book.

We watched the movie Produced by Oliv
...more
John
Jan 09, 2016 John rated it liked it
Shelves: current-affairs
Ron Suskind's book The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill is one of the first books to have hit the stands about the dysfunction within the 43rd President's administration. It is Paul O'Neill's version of his short stint in the administration that lasted for a little over two years until his abrupt resignation in 2003.

By now several other books have dealt with this topic in more detail, especially about the decisions behind the Iraq war and the l
...more
Frank Stein
The tropes of a DC political memoir come heavy and thick in this book. Paul O'Neill, a former aide in the Nixon and Ford White Houses, and recent successful CEO of Alcoa, comes to DC again with high hopes to accept his highest position ever, Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush. O'Neill announced that he wanted "to accept the challenge to return to public service," to reform Social Security and other big tasks. Yet by the end, there's the inevitable disillusionment: "It's a tough town...but m ...more
Kurt
This book was a little difficult to get into at first. Being a first-hand account of actual events in a political setting, the book is definitely not fast-paced. So much of the real action in this book happens behind the scenes, and even out of the direct view of the book's subject, Paul O'Neill, that the reader is left to infer what actually must have been happening behind those scenes. However, by the end of the book, no doubt is left as to the character, motives, activities, and ideologies of ...more
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 Frederick Bingham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Paul O'Neill, Bush's first treasury secretary, from '2001 until he was fired in December '2003. He describes the inner workings of the Bush administration. He discusses how the intrigues and political backstabbing worked. How Cheney pulled the strings from behind the scenes. How moderate members of the administration, like Colin Powell and Christine Whitman, got screwed over. How Bush was completely clueless when it came to complex issues like global warming and tax policy. How Bush ...more
Michael
Aug 31, 2007 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes modern history, domestic policy, or US Administration History
Shelves: non-fiction
Awesome book, just wonderful. I picked this up on a whim at the American Library in Paris of all places, and sped right through it.

As a someone who describes themselves as "center-left" (whatever that means) I didn't think I would enjoy reading about the Bush administration, much less some cabinet member.

But very shortly into the book I found Paul O'Neail (Bush's first Sec. of Treas. to be a fascinating, very bright, pragmatic, and moderate-right policy maker. I really enjoy reading about 'beh
...more
Aaron Crossen
I ate this book up. Another revealing look at some of workings in Washington in a critical time, the first two years of the Bush presidency. As is more or less commonly understood now, Bush comes off as an insulated and uninterested president with a personality that stifles real debate and deliberation in a White House and a city that could really use it.

O'Neill, for his part, is a sympathetic character. Suskind's narrative paints a portrait of a man who, from very humble beginnings, developed a
...more
Mike Jensen
Oct 22, 2009 Mike Jensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand the administration of George W Bush, his commitment to invading Iraq, and his disastrous financial policies. It is the story of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill as told to the author, who attended the first Cabinet meeting far in advance of 9/11, yet all the talk was of finding a way to invade Iraq and making it work. It reveals his meetings with the secretive Dick Cheney, and how these were about saying what Cheney wanted to hear. He re ...more
David Sakrison
Feb 06, 2008 David Sakrison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A chilling look inside the Bush White House, from the perspective of a cabinet member--Bush's ex-Treasury Secretary. If you had any doubts that George W. Bush is the most insulated, most anti-intellectual, and possibly least competent president in recent history, this book will settle the matter.
Suskind's book and O'Neill's testimony make it absolutely clear that Bush and his cronies came into the White House determined to attack Iraq, long before 9/11. The book paints a convincing portrait of a
...more
Mark
Apr 26, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
While I don’t agree with many of O’Neill’s stances – privatizing Social Security, tax cuts, etc. – I do agree with his condemnation of the Bush Administration’s insular and political decision making. As O’Neill notes, there are no “honest brokers” in the Administration who are able or willing to give the President a briefing based on facts rather than on “what the base likes.” Routinely, Bush is portrayed as a simpleton who either has no curiosity or doesn’t know what questions to ask.

Overall,
...more
Brian
Sep 20, 2014 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting to re-visit the first George W. Bush presidency. There are a lot of great insights in this book, and I think Paul O'Neill's reputation as a straight shooter and the fact that Ron Suskind worked a long time for the Wall Street Journal give the book a lot of credibility. I think it's interesting both from a historical perspective to gain insights on the GW Bush first term's thinking but also for those interested in public administration and management due to O'Neill's (also an i ...more
Angela Chang
Jun 07, 2016 Angela Chang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very readable book! I learned a lot about how politics works from an insider, and it made me reconsider what I thought happened during Paul O'Neill's tenure at the treasury. I hadn't really read much about how political leaders made decisions before. I was saddened by the lack of direction shown by the leader of the US, and I hope we do not make the same mistakes again. I resonated with the ideal of trying to do the right thing, and making decisions based on facts. The book showed ver ...more
Susie
Feb 11, 2008 Susie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually still think this is one of the best criticisms of the Bush White House that is out there. It doesn't go off on a screed, but it is completely devastating. Through the microcosm of their treatment of Paul O'Neill, you get a really thorough understanding of what the hell went wrong. Everyone (except for the loony 25% fringe) says it now, but it is important to remember that O'Neill was the first insider to realize the problem of letting politics trump policy. And Suskind does a great jo ...more
John
Jul 30, 2007 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paul O'Neill was G. W. Bush's Treasury Secretary for the first two years of his administration. He had a reputation for speaking truth to power during his two years in office, until he was fired at the end of 2002. Having worked in both the Nixon and Ford administrations, he provides intelligent commentary on what the Bush administration was lacking - mostly a process to consider and vet policy options. This is a must-read for any policy wonk (regardless of political affiliation), or anyone inte ...more
Colleen
Jan 08, 2008 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friend Lis recommended this book. I think I picked it up once and had trouble getting into it, but after the first 40 pages or so, it is definitely worth reading. If there is any book that I would read before the November presidential election, it would be this one. What is truly frightening is Secretary O'Neil's description of the inter-workings of the Bush presidency and their financial dealings during the Secretary's time in office.

I wish someone would do a movie/documentary on the federal
...more
Colleen Clark
Sep 30, 2007 Colleen Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: citizens
Shelves: politics-terror
This was one of the first reports from life inside the Bush White House. A lot of what was shocking then has become well known since. However, it's still an eye opener to read about how a long-time Republican (O'Neill) with a lot of government experience was astonished by the Bush administration. In his first interview with Bush he expected a lot of questions. Bush said nothing. There's stuff about Greenspan, early (pre 9/11) discussions about invading Iraq etc etc etc.
Ronald Wise
Sep 06, 2011 Ronald Wise rated it really liked it
A welcome confirmation of my gut feelings about the current administration — I'm not going crazy! This is an informative read for anyone who noticed the major discrepencies between "news" as presented by the White House propoganda organs (CNN, FOX News) and information from alternative sources since the summer of 2002. Also very instructive as to how those large corporate contributions to W's campaign coffers reap practical results.
Boris
Oct 24, 2012 Boris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How Bush screwed up the treasury department and turned a Clinton budget surplus into a huge deficit. How they gutted the treasury for no good reason. How everything was about politics and rewarding the base. How competent people (Paul Oneill) were thrown out of the Bush administration. How decisions were made without any regard for facts or reality.
Why it really matters who we elect as president.
Lucas Johnson
Jan 22, 2016 Lucas Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bush had the unfortunate penchant for choosing the most distinguished advisers, but then taking no time to follow the logic or policies they suggested. O'Neill is one of the most highly qualified treasury secretaries we have ever had, and, if his wisdom had been allowed to guide the economy, we might not be in the same situation that we are currently facing.
Michael
May 29, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This was one of the first expose-style books from an ex-member of Bush's cabinet. Unfortunately, it was largely overlooked by the American public which was still under the hypnotic spell of W.

Thank god that's over! If only people had payed more attention to books like this one, we might have booted Bush out in '04.
Brady Dale
Jun 17, 2013 Brady Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this a long time ago, but I find myself thinking about Paul O'Neill's views a lot. He's a lifelong Republican, so I don't agree with him on everything, but he's nearly idealistic about his views on the value of an ethical bureaucracy. I find his thinking that secrecy is almost entirely pointless very compelling.
It's a really solid story and book.
Gillian Anderson
I may not agree with O'Neil's old conservatism, but jesus, this many has integrity. An excellent window into W's executive style (passive and unquisitive). In no way did he bash Bush- which is what I liked---but be reading the facts--you are totally astonished at how unleader-like and halfhazardly our President #43 operated.
Sharon Anne Beers
Feb 17, 2016 Sharon Anne Beers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul O'Neill was a brilliant Secretary of the Treasury in Geo. W. Bush's first term, but was forced out because he refused to be a 'yes' man. Had he been able to stay in his position throughout the years of that administration, and had he been able to influence the policymakers, the country likely would have been able to avoid many of the financial debacles of the last years of Bush's reign.
Lil
Gripping read about former Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill's experience of the first two years of the Bush Whitehouse. Fascinating and did not feel dated to me. This has been on my TBR shelf for about seven years...yay for clearing one out! But, now has bumped up another Suskind book I owned but haven't read and put at least two more books on the TBR list!
Marco Grillo
Sep 02, 2011 Marco Grillo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Non ho potuto dare più di 5 stelle per questo libro, gli avrei dato tranquillamente 5+. Veramente esilarante, l'amministrazione Bush messa a nudo svelandoci in mano a quale cricca è stata l'Ameriaca prima ed il mondo intero poi. Libro assolutamente da leggere e se lo si fa dopo avere letto Osama di Jonathan Randal è veramente il massimo.
Geri
Aug 16, 2016 Geri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book when there was nothing else around to read. I didn't expect to become engaged. O'Neill was the Secretary of the Treasury during Bush Jr.'s reign. The book gives an insightful look at what went on behind the scenes during that administration, both good and bad.
Jrobertus
this book is based on notes and interviews with paul o'neil, a gw bush secretary of treasury. it reveals w as a dim witted ideologue with no grasp of economics; he is manipulated by rove, cheney and others as a puppet.
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Ron Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and best-selling author. He was the senior national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal from 1993 to 2000 and has published several books: A Hope in the Unseen, The Price of Loyalty, The One Percent Doctrine, The Way of the World, Confidence Men, and Life, Animated. He won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his series ...more
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“The phone rang. It was a familiar voice.

It was Alan Greenspan. Paul O'Neill had tried to stay in touch with people who had served under Gerald Ford, and he'd been reasonably conscientious about it. Alan Greenspan was the exception. In his case, the effort was constant and purposeful. When Greenspan was the chairman of Ford's Council of Economic Advisers, and O'Neill was number two at OMB, they had become a kind of team. Never social so much. They never talked about families or outside interests. It was all about ideas: Medicare financing or block grants - a concept that O'Neill basically invented to balance federal power and local autonomy - or what was really happening in the economy. It became clear that they thought well together. President Ford used to have them talk about various issues while he listened. After a while, each knew how the other's mind worked, the way married couples do.

In the past fifteen years, they'd made a point of meeting every few months. It could be in New York, or Washington, or Pittsburgh. They talked about everything, just as always. Greenspan, O'Neill told a friend, "doesn't have many people who don't want something from him, who will talk straight to him. So that's what we do together - straight talk."

O'Neill felt some straight talk coming in.

"Paul, I'll be blunt. We really need you down here," Greenspan said. "There is a real chance to make lasting changes. We could be a team at the key moment, to do the things we've always talked about."

The jocular tone was gone. This was a serious discussion. They digressed into some things they'd "always talked about," especially reforming Medicare and Social Security. For Paul and Alan, the possibility of such bold reinventions bordered on fantasy, but fantasy made real.

"We have an extraordinary opportunity," Alan said. Paul noticed that he seemed oddly anxious. "Paul, your presence will be an enormous asset in the creation of sensible policy."

Sensible policy. This was akin to prayer from Greenspan. O'Neill, not expecting such conviction from his old friend, said little. After a while, he just thanked Alan. He said he always respected his counsel. He said he was thinking hard about it, and he'd call as soon as he decided what to do.

The receiver returned to its cradle. He thought about Greenspan. They were young men together in the capital. Alan stayed, became the most noteworthy Federal Reserve Bank chairman in modern history and, arguably the most powerful public official of the past two decades. O'Neill left, led a corporate army, made a fortune, and learned lessons - about how to think and act, about the importance of outcomes - that you can't ever learn in a government.

But, he supposed, he'd missed some things. There were always trade-offs. Talking to Alan reminded him of that. Alan and his wife, Andrea Mitchell, White House correspondent for NBC news, lived a fine life. They weren't wealthy like Paul and Nancy. But Alan led a life of highest purpose, a life guided by inquiry.

Paul O'Neill picked up the telephone receiver, punched the keypad.

"It's me," he said, always his opening.

He started going into the details of his trip to New York from Washington, but he's not much of a phone talker - Nancy knew that - and the small talk trailed off.

"I think I'm going to have to do this."

She was quiet. "You know what I think," she said.

She knew him too well, maybe. How bullheaded he can be, once he decides what's right. How he had loved these last few years as a sovereign, his own man. How badly he was suited to politics, as it was being played. And then there was that other problem: she'd almost always been right about what was best for him.

"Whatever, Paul. I'm behind you. If you don't do this, I guess you'll always regret it."

But it was clearly about what he wanted, what he needed.

Paul thanked her. Though somehow a thank-you didn't seem appropriate.

And then he realized she was crying.”
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“I'm [Paul O'Neill] an old guy, and I'm rich. And there's nothing they can do to hurt me.” 1 likes
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