Angler: The Shadow Presidency of Dick Cheney
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Angler: The Shadow Presidency of Dick Cheney

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  804 ratings  ·  148 reviews
The landmark expos? of the most powerful and secretive vice president in American history
Barton Gellman shared the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for a keen-edged reckoning with Dick Cheney's domestic agenda in "The Washington Post." In "Angler," Gellman goes far beyond that series to take on the full scope of Cheney's work and its consequences, including his hidden role in the...more
Hardcover, 483 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Allen Lane (first published January 1st 2008)
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Drake
After reading Barton Gellman’s (and Jo Becker’s) series of articles in the Washington Post reporting on Vice President Dick Cheney, I couldn’t wait for an expanded book version. The series won a Pulitzer prize for its well documented revelations, and perhaps already aware of many of these, I came to be disappointed as I read ‘Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency.’ This isn’t to say that ‘Angler’ is a bad book on any level. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in current political affai...more
Ray
Sep 20, 2009 Ray rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in National affairs, whether Democrat or Republican
This was an excellent book, based on Barton Gellman's Pulitzer Prize winning 2008 investigations and writings on National politics. As a Washington Post writer, Mr. Gellman had access to many in Cheney's inner circle and the Bush White House to put together this informative description of the Vice President's role in setting the tone and direction of the Administration. We've seen political cartoons over the past eight years with Dick Cheney as the ventriloquist, pulling the strings and putting...more
marcali
add a crunchy top layer to the political casserole created by The Bush Tragedy, The Terror Presidency, Bush's Law and many many NYer articles.

neat summary of these past eight Wonderland years:

A three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit...said the classified files contained mere assertions, not evidence. When the government declared the intelligence reliable because in appeared in three different documents, the judges mocked that reasoning. "The fact that the government...more
emily
Dec 09, 2012 emily rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the U.S.
Terrifying, fascinating. Cheney comes off as an X-men-level supervillain and always, always the smartest guy in the room. I think, more than anything, I was really struck by the effort Mr. Gellman (and, by extension, I guess, everyone he interviewed) goes to to point out that G.W.B. was less dumb (and less apathetic) than we thought. This, honestly, sort of shakes up my whole worldview, but it also makes Cheney all the more terrifying in that over and over again we see that even the White House...more
Alison
Finished this book a few days ago, and I give it a strong recommendation. Gellman is meticulous to describe Cheney's modus operandi through its strengths and limitations, successes and failures. Gellman's assessment of the Cheney vice-presidency takes care to demonstrate what Cheney was and what Cheney wasn't. He pulls no punches in recounting the events leading up to the Bush administration's condoning of both torture and domestic surveillance. What was interesting to me was Gellman's treatment...more
Paul Donahue
Hipsters and other types of partisan Democrats love the idea of Cheney as someone beyond a mere political adversary, but someone who truly embodies pure evil. There were times during the Bush administration that everyone must have been suspicious of such a characterization. Cheney did himself no favors by cloaking all his decisions, benign and otherwise, in a veil of secrecy and it certainly didn't help that he looks generally sinister anyway. Gellman's book peels back the cloak to reveal somewh...more
Garver
Gellman's exhaustively sourced and gripping account of Cheney's transformation of OVP could not be any more fascinating. Getting beyond all the conspiracy theories and general nutjobbery that surrounds the man, the book tells a story of an almost Greek tragic hero -- a man so blinded by ideology and a lust for secrecy that he may have been at once the most effective and destructive holder of the office. Starting with Cheney's appointment to the ticket (recall, he ran Bush's VP search committee i...more
Steve Tally
Angler, by the well-respected writer Barton Gellman, is an important book and a good read as well. Important, because it shows the multitude of ways that Dick Cheney manipulated the federal bureaucracy, which Cheney knew well, to form a wall around President George W. Bush. Bush was making decisions as president, certainly, but Cheney controlled the information delivered to the president and the people who had access to him. In that carefully controlled environment some of Bush's head-scratching...more
Dave Metge
Learned
1. Cheney is the man behind the power. He had his hands in _everything major_ or so it seems. As I read the book, it seemed like many major decisions were made w/o proper vetting/procedures being followed. THus, it seem like there were almost no types of consultation or critical thinking involved in making and enacting the decisions. From Abu Grab to torture to Fed rates to water management; this guy was making major policy decisions, often with minimal presidential .

2. Bush comes off as...more
Alec
Fantastically interesting piece of non-fiction tied together by a narrative worthy of an Aaron Sorkin drama. Specifically, the West Wing. Alright, I've never seen the West Wing, but if it is at all like this book, I am going to go out and purchase the DVDs.

In an era when Cheney bashing is as trendy as skinny jeans, this book is a breath of fresh air. Not because it is written from a pro-Cheney angle, but because it appears to be a sparkling piece of journalistic objectivity.

A ruthlessly effectiv...more
Joe
I checked out this book with a lot of interest. I will never see eye-to-eye with Dick Cheney on a majority of issues but I found his quest for power very fascinating. Gellman does a pretty solid job (though at times mildly repetitive) in summing up top-secret meetings & events which includes my personal favorite; Alberto Gonzales & James Comey rushing to the bed side of AG John Ashcroft.

Without spoiling too much of the book, you get a pretty good understanding of how Dick Cheney operate...more
Remo
This book provides an interesting perspective on how to take over the entire policy process in Washington. It is not a flattering book, and the author clearly is not a Cheney fan, but an interesting portrait of the former VP comes out anyway. VP Cheney offered to be President Bush’s “detail guy”, handling things the President didn’t want on his plate. The first step (after leading a search for a vice presidential candidate and rejecting all comers) was to be put in charge of the transition, duri...more
Daniel
Why do people hate Dick Cheney? I read this book for answers and, happily, I can say Gellman delivers. The book starts weakly by making some innuendos about Cheney regarding a 'leak' about a VP candidate, Gov. Keating; the offended governor seems to believe only Cheney could have caused his troubles even though he admits he told several people about the subject when he was being cleared for an earlier job. Nevertheless, after this small misstep Gellman does a reasonably good job of illustrating...more
Chris
I recently downloaded this audiobook on a whim from LA County library online system (check it out, LA locals). All I knew was that it was an in depth look at Dick Cheney in his role as VP, and that the author, Barton Gellman, had shared the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his writing on Cheney with the Washington Post.

Gellman succeeds in taking 8 years of data (along with a lot of before and after) and boiling it down into a page-turning account of the man who was the closest our nation has ever come t...more
Mark
The best political book I've read about the Bush administration. A remarkably even-handed and detailed profile of Cheney's years in the White House. It destroys a lot of the more ludicrous ideas of Cheney's motives while revealing things that are so calculated and unyielding that its shocking. On one hand, Cheney's secrecy goes as far as to even hide things that would dispel myths about him, like his forfeiting millions in Haliburton stock options. On the other hand, he and his chief lawyer Davi...more
Nathan
Dec 06, 2008 Nathan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: political junkies
Recommended to Nathan by: Amy Morris
11/11: Hits the ground running with Cheney's terse, intrusive manipulation of the 2000 vice presidential vetting process, which turned out not to be necessary since Cheney chose himself as vp.

11/12: No surprise. Cheney gives his higher-up subordinates comparable positions in the president's staff, finesses himself into the Principals Committee and the Senate Republican Caucus, and makes himself a confidential adviser to the president on a level with the national security adviser. Most readers wo...more
Michael
Jan 25, 2009 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Tara Fetherling
The author was a winner of the 2008 Pulitizer Prize. This book has the potential of making you mad, it did me. It focused on the full scope of Cheney's work and it's consequences, including going from al Qaeda to Iraq, spying on Americans, promoting torture, global warming, tax cuts for the wealthy, secret prisons, and how he operated politically in the White House. It's a great study of the Bush administration.
Jack
A petrifying view int the imperial vice presidency, with an amazing array of Washington insiders - many quoted by name for the first time. Gellman's research is prodigious, his access is amazing, and the sometimes previously unknown stories are often chilling.
AC
Nov 09, 2008 AC rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of history, political science, management
The running joke about the Bush Administration actually being a Cheney Administration has a ring of truth in it, but it actually unfair to both men. Gellman's brilliant research and analysis uncovers how Cheney redefined the Vice Presidency. Sometimes the decisions he made were done with POTUS approval, sometimes with tacit understanding, sometimes POTUS was completely unaware. Cheney was a man on a mission - from appointing himself as candidate for VP, to decisions he made during and post 9/11...more
Jeweleye
If you are still scratching your head over how the Bush administration took the path it did, defying over 200 years of laws and customs in the process, you must read this book. Angler is about the Cheney Vice Presidency; Angler was/is Cheney's Secret Service nickname, so named because he is a fly fisherman but also because he spent eight years angling and maneuvering to get his ideas before the President. Oh, he is a wily one! And so convinced that he is right! At least that's how I have to look...more
Kathleen Gilroy
This was a surprisingly riveting read. One of those books that I could not put down and could comfortably spend three hours reading without a pause. Based on Barton Gellman's Pulitzer Prize winning articles in the Washington Post, Angler details how Cheney amasses and executes power during the two Bush terms. The book opens with a description of the VP vetting process (run by Cheney) during which massive amounts of private and detailed information were provided to the Cheney team by short-listed...more
Ronspross
The Bush administration has been the most damaging one of my life -- and I can remember Eisenhower. The former President still has his apologists who claim he is intelligent, well informed, and engaged. There is no evidence for this whatsoever. The man exhibited no acquaintance with anything other than the cultural prejudices with which he grew up and no awareness of the existence of a host of alternative prejudices. The lack of intelligence or deliberation is evident in the fact that he demonst...more
J.
Feb 05, 2009 J. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ... prosecutors ....
Shelves: political, history, gothic
If you've paid close attention to the newspapers and wire services in the last eight years, you really don't need to read Angler The Cheney Vice Presidency. You knew what was happening all along. But it may be worth it to read through as a summation, a reminder of the kind of rampant malfeasance in office that the national citizenry allowed, and by their silence, approved.

What's interesting, for those who don't need to read it, may just be the most minute facets of machiavellian process, as pe...more
Rob Mentzer
Pretty bad-ass reporting and taut storytelling. Cheney set policy goals and accomplished them, is the essence of it, but how that happened it is still fascinating.

There is a large cast of supporting players -- Alberto Gonzales comes off especially badly -- but in a curious way it's the vice president's lawyer David Addington who dominates this book. Addington, who I've heard called "Cheney's Cheney," seems to be forever shouting at people in meetings, pushing through secret directives, holding...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘I have a different understanding with the President.’

This book is specifically about Dick Cheney’s role in the George W Bush presidency. It also raises questions more generally, at least for me, about the role of the vice-president in the USA’s administration. It seems clear, both from the content of the book and wider events that Dick Cheney had a different view of the roles and responsibilities of the role of the vice president than his immediate predecessors. It is very clear that Dick Chen...more
Jeremy
A tour de force autobiography of one of the most important political figures of our times. Even someone who has been closely following Cheney, as I have, will learn a great deal. Gellman is extremely fair--taking great pains, for example, to exonerate Cheney from any leftwing allegations about corruption. The man's motivations are never venal. But he does a better job than any previous account of showing how Cheney managed to infiltrate his people into every part of the administrative process, i...more
Michelle
Wow. The first two thirds of this book is excellent. Cheney is brilliantly able to achieve his objectives. Gellman describes how he could outmanuever and outwork all of his ideological foes. It is amazing to realize all of the Bush policies that have Cheney's fingerprints all over them--the tax cuts early in the first term, Guantanamo and treatment of detainees, the warantless wiretapping initiative, energy and environmental policy. Truly, he took to VP office to new heights. Oh, the secrets! Hi...more
Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner
An excellent example of taut, well-researched journalism transformed into an equally fine book-length exploration of the philosophy and ideology of the Cheney imperative. Gellman's writing moves swiftly and deftly through complex policy grapplings. My frustration and disgust often required that I stop to close the book and ponder the ramifications of what I'd read. I predict that someone will make the pitch and ask Mr. Gellman for movie rights. That may or may not be a good thing. Who can say re...more
Nanci Mcclellan
Angler is an eye-opening, riveting look inside the Dick Cheney Vice Presidency. I went into the book disliking Cheney and came out believing that, he is pure evil. I was shocked, alarmed and dismayed at Cheney's careless disregard for the laws of our society, the lives of people who got in his way and the lengths he went to in order to silence people. The Mafia has nothing on this man.
Jack
There is not a lot of new information here for people who have already followed the Cheney Vice presidency in the news, with the exception of Gellman's discussion of the revolt at DOJ over domestic wiretapping. Nor does Gellman provide a whole new perspective on Cheney the man, although his efforts to treat Cheney as a real human being - but not necessarily a good one - help the book immensely. What Gellman does do is weave together the significant developments and exploits of the last 8 years,...more
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