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Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  2,068 Ratings  ·  250 Reviews
In Days of Fire, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, takes us on a gripping and intimate journey through the eight years of the Bush and Cheney administration in a tour-de-force narrative of a dramatic and controversial presidency.

Theirs was the most captivating American political partnership since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger: a bold
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Hardcover, 816 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2013)
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Matt
May 23, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: 9-11, terrorism, politics
I hesitated for a good long while before I finally picked up Peter Baker’s Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House.. My hesitation had nothing do to with quality, as the book has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. It had to do with subject-matter. Though it feels like a lifetime ago (or maybe several lifetimes ago), the Bush Administration resides in our recent past. I believe that it’s hard to write good history when the history is still fresh. Instead of dispassionate analysis ...more
Mara
The first presidential election for which I was eligible to vote was in 2004, and I voted against Bush as my foray into civic participation. Given Bush's purported disinclination towards the "East Coast, Ivy League establishment," I'm guessing he wouldn't have been a big fan of mine either. However, these were not really relevant factors in my enjoying the book. If you're looking for a hagiography or a smear job you'll be disappointed.

What Peter Baker has created is an impressively smooth narra
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Daniel
Oct 23, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I want to hang Saakashvili by the balls," Putin told Sarkozy.
"Hang him?" Sarkozy asked.
"Why not? The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein."
"But do you want to end up like Bush?"
"Ah," Putin replied, "there you have a point."

"The president," a senior [Bush] administration official said, "thinks cutting and running on his friends shows weakness. Change shows weakness. Doing what everyone knows has to be done shows weakness."

"You know there are all these conspiracy theories that Dick runs the country .
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Jake
Jan 12, 2014 Jake rated it really liked it
I have to admit that, much like 70% of Americans, I was not a fan of Bush and one of the main reasons I started reading this book was to bolster the opinions I had already formed. This book did pretty much the exact opposite. By no means am I saying that I will now defend the W. Bush administration. I still think you can make a strong case that he was one of the worst presidents in American history. But I walked away from this book with the belief that you can make an equally strong case that fe ...more
Jerome
May 25, 2013 Jerome rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As the actions and legacy of the Bush administration have been reduced to bumper-sticker slogans and treated like bad memories to be forgotten, Peter Baker does a great job telling us what actually happened. He gives us a vivid portrait of a presidency forged in crisis and virtually defined by controversy.

The book’s compelling and fast-paced narrative is driven more by the people and personalities that inhabited it rather than actual events. Still, Baker gives us a good sense of the daily grind
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Steve
Mar 16, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it
As the navy steward worked his way around the table taking orders, most of the officials stuck with a simple fruit bowl. Cheney, on the other hand, ordered bacon and eggs. Hill was struck that the vice president would order something so different when everyone was going light, especially since he had had four heart attacks. (p. 567)

Ah, this book has a lot of new moments, but for some reason this late one stuck with me. Baker's book is essentially the story of a failed presidency, and a big reaso
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Stuart
Mar 15, 2014 Stuart rated it it was ok
Shelves: politix
While I found this absolutely absorbing, and as readable as a Stephen King novel, and pretty well-written (just like a Stephen King novel), in the end I was sort of grossed-out by this whitewashing of Bush and Cheney posing as a balanced and critical examination of their two terms in office. It was especially a Bush love-fest. Hey, he's a smart, sensitive, caring man after all! In everything he did, he only meant well!

Almost no words spent on the Iraqi dead, which he must take responsibility for
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James
Dec 13, 2016 James rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
I have moved on to the next stage of my grim fascination with the US presidency from the voyeuristic masochistic delight of an introvert following the pain of the campaign to now actually reading about the actual time spent in office. I have a big fat book about Lincoln leering at me as we speak.

Anyway I am not really sure why I read this book apart from the realization that books about campaign are the gateway drugs to reading about presidents. I did not particularly enjoy the time Bush was in
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Brian
Dec 17, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing
First, let me say that I never voted for Bush/Cheney and can be counted among those who think they were among the worst and most destructive administrations in US history. Certainly they were in my lifetime, thus far.

Their transgressions, for me, originated with the contested election in 2000. Thought I must also say that even then I was struck by Gore's inability to carry his home state of Tennessee. It's rare when a presidential candidate doesn't carry his home state, and in this case it was
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Jessica (booneybear)
Sometimes it is difficult to remember that political leaders are just normal human beings dealing with extraordinary situations. This book showed a very human side to George Bush. Unfortunately Dick Cheney did not come off as sympathetically. It was interesting to see how the relationship between Bush and Cheney evolved through the 8 years in the White House. I was always one of the few people who actually felt bad for all the negative and hostile attacks against President Bush while he was in o ...more
Rob Smith
Jun 13, 2014 Rob Smith rated it it was ok
This as good of a historical/narrative overview of the Bush administration as we're bound to get for awhile. In Days of Fire, author Peter Baker takes us through the story of the Bush years, centering on President Bush, and (unusual for a presidential biography) Vice President Cheney. The book is a narrative, storytelling history a la Doris Kearns Goodwin (as in Team of Rivals or The Bully Pulpit. It takes from the earliest days, through 9/11, midterms, Hurricane Katrina, all the way to the last ...more
Ben
Oct 24, 2013 Ben rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adulthood
Loved this book. Baker strikes a great balance between the wonky stuff, the power struggles in the White House, and the characters involved. The book starts with plenty of background of the major players, which sets up the conflicts and subplots during the eight years. Considering the number of people involved and the length of the book, I never had to search the index to figure out who the Undersecretary of Labor was and why they were involved. Baker sticks to the important players that are ful ...more
Emily
Mar 22, 2014 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: set-aside
I read about a third of this lengthy book before it was due at the library. It was infuriating but relentlessly competent, drawing together some original interviews but also a lot of memoirs of Bush-administration figures that I will never read, forming a thorough and perhaps unnecessarily detailed account of the Bush years. ("Laura Bush had comfort food made for dinner that night, October 6: chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and banana pudding for dessert.")

It is well done as history bu
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Matthew
Jun 03, 2014 Matthew rated it really liked it
In historical accounts and biographies, something that is very important to me is that the author not try to either deify or vilify the subject of the book. Days of Fire fills this requirement well. It is not an indictment nor an attempt to justify the Bush Administration, but rather gives the perspectives of different actors as situations developed and leaves you to decide the degree to which you agree or disagree. I also enjoyed how the author in his narrative, knowing "the future" of the Admi ...more
Joseph
Aug 21, 2013 Joseph rated it liked it
I received this book as part of a goodreads giveaway and generally enjoyed the comprehensiveness of Baker's reportage, but there are some significant weaknesses as well. The general writing style is as if Baker wrote a 650 page plus NY Times article. This is not a cheap shot. It is informative, well-resourced and generally balanced. However, this book will never be considered the definitive account of the Bush presidency because the characters of Bush and Cheney demand someone who has more magis ...more
Philip Girvan
Apr 05, 2015 Philip Girvan rated it really liked it
George W. Bush did not agree to be interviewed by Baker, a reporter for the New York Times, believing that a NYT reporter could not tell the story of his presidency objectively. Bush's absence is unfortunate and while it can't help but weaken the book, Baker was able to secure interviews with every other key member of the Bush administration, including Vice-President Cheney, allowing Baker to share multiple perspectives on various key events during Bush's two terms. These perspectives are reveal ...more
Kim Miller-Davis
Jul 27, 2015 Kim Miller-Davis rated it it was amazing
Although it took me a couple of months to get through, this is the best book that I have read about the Bush presidency (including Bush's own memoir.) Consisting of over 650 pages chock full of meticulously researched information about events, meetings, and the decision-making process of Bush & his cabinet, Baker's political narrative delivers a thorough, fair-minded evaluation of the Bush administration. Having said that, this book is not what I expected at all.

Because of the title, my conc
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John Campbell
Feb 27, 2017 John Campbell rated it it was amazing
Reliving the turbulent years of George W. Bush's presidency by reading this book was an affecting experience. Baker does a good job giving an objective account of those years as well as telling the story of the White House's chief figures, Bush and Cheney. I think more liberals (like me) should read this book. While it didn't change my mind on my disagreement with a wide variety of Bush policies, it did show me the humanity behind the policies. Empathy is severely lacking in political discourse ...more
Joseph
Dec 14, 2013 Joseph rated it it was amazing
Not an easy read, in fact a painful read. The misjudgments on Iraq were devastating. Yet, this is an important read, important because it so seriously, systematically and deeply examines both terms of the George W. Bush Presidency. Moreover, the author does this in a remarkably objective manner. Peter Baker conducted over 400 interviews with some 275 people as diverse as Condi Rice, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Stephen Hadley, Michael Hayden, Rob Portman and even John Axelrod. In addition, Baker h ...more
David Quinn
Nov 01, 2014 David Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many good qualities to this book to put it in the strong recommendation category.

The writing is very balanced, well researched and unobtrusive. The events of the narrative take center stage and flow effortlessly. It always felt like there were sufficient details to convey the story without getting bogged down in unnecessary minutiae.

Here’s a sample:

“Liberation, however, proved to be messier than anyone had hoped. Cheney and Makiya were right when they said that Americans would be welco
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Al
Jan 31, 2014 Al rated it really liked it
This will probably be the definitive book on the Bush-Cheney administration. Mr. Baker has clearly consulted every source he could find, interviewed everyone available, and has produced practically a day-by-day account of the two terms that seems about as fair and factual as one could hope. It may be more than you want to know at 653 packed pages, but if you're willing to stay the course there's a lot to learn.
Among other things, Mr. Baker lays to rest the recurring notion that Cheney actually
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Travis Kurtz
Dec 04, 2013 Travis Kurtz rated it it was amazing
Peter Baker takes you into the most polarizing presidency in modern time. President George W. Bush had the highest approval ratings of any president; yet, by the time he left his president saw the highest disapproval ratings since the Gallup poll began. In his book, “Days of Fire” you feel as if you’re inside the White House while the decisions are being played out. Baker leaves you with many sources and commentary; the story itself makes up 653 pages with well over 100 pages of endnotes. It is ...more
Sojourner
Oct 28, 2013 Sojourner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House by Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, who has an eye and ear on the many goings-on during the Bush administration, is no child's play. A tome of over 800 pages, it is an arduous journey through the turbulent eight years of the Bush presidency, and it is a book which many readers may not read through to the end unless they are staunch supporters or strong critics.

However, this assumption is not based on content but
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Sachin N
Oct 01, 2013 Sachin N rated it really liked it
Just finished reading this book I received through Goodreads giveaways. Was promised a hardcover but received a softcover one - no complaints!

This book is a hefty one but is a very balanced comparison between Bush and Cheney's early lives and route to their respective positions. An excellent read, this book brings out the human behind the two powerful men who ushered the world into a post 9/11 world. Many actions that we know the president took during his 8yr term, we will now come to know why h
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Linda
Oct 25, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Linda by: Charlie Rose 10-22-13
This was a very interesting and perhaps enlightening read. The author didn't rag on 43's time in office but presented a factual account of his administration. Parts of George Bush is obvious, other parts showing a man more sensitive than I expected. Of particular interest to me was the widening separation between Bush and Cheney especially during the second term of office.
I don't like Cheney any better (and perhaps a bit less). Despite my being a political junkie, I still shake my head at the ma
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David Bales
Nov 14, 2013 David Bales rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
A very thorough and comprehensive history of the two terms of Bush and Cheney that nearly wrecked America forever; Bush went from a sort of aimless president in 2001 to being a perpetual "war president" that presided over the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Much of the blame is placed, quite rightfully so, on Dick Cheney's doorstep. As difficult to read about as it was to live through. Only for masochists. Too soon.
Phil Nelson
Jan 18, 2014 Phil Nelson rated it really liked it
I was not a Bush fan but I have a lot more respect for him after reading this book.
My thoughts about Cheney were not improved by this book.
It was a very enjoyable read for a political junkie like me.
Patrick Schultheis
Apr 23, 2015 Patrick Schultheis rated it really liked it
Very readable. Good, balanced account of the Bush administration.
Joe Martin
Sep 20, 2014 Joe Martin rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Peter Baker wrote a surprisingly even handed account of the Bush presidency. I say “surprisingly” because I was familiar with the antagonism between the New York Times and the Bush White House. I wasn't sure what to expect from a book written by a Times reporter. What I got was a well researched, balanced look at how Bush ran the White House and how decisions were made.

Baker starts the book with a back-and-forth look at Bush's and Cheney's early careers. He covers their respective college years,
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Sean Lynch
Oct 28, 2013 Sean Lynch rated it did not like it
This is basically a repackaging of the various memoirs of Bush-era insiders. Not much new stuff here.

An overview of the nightmare that was 2000-2008, Baker's book is (searching for a polite euphemism) *kind* to the people involved. Even as he details the administration's hyping of false intelligence (uranium from Niger, aluminum tubes, etc.) in the lead up to the Iraq war, it is all through the P.O.V. of administration insiders. In his acknowledgements, Baker says he is "attempting a neutral his
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There is more than one author with this name in the database.

Peter Baker has been a journalist for the Washington Post and the New York Times. He covered President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, resulting in the book The Breach. As the Post's Moscow bureau chief, he wrote the book Kremlin Rising. He is married to the journalist Susan Glasser.
More about Peter Baker...

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