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American Hero

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  143 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Once upon a time, there was a mean, dying GOP chairman named Lee Atwater who had the most brilliant, insane, frightening and do-able idea ever concocted to assure that his man, George Bush, would retain the office of the president of the United States. And the only man on the face of the earth who could pull of such an elaborate scheme was none other than the world's most ...more
Hardcover, 431 pages
Published October 1st 1993 by Pantheon Books (first published 1993)
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Nov 29, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: bpl-list
Before starting this book I scrupulously avoided learning anything about it. And so, open mind in hand, I began this excellent and well-researched excursion into an alternate reality. Or is it?

This is a novel of fact and fiction. There are over 100 citations of articles and interviews that support the story. Some were familiar to me, others were not. In many there is also the author’s explanation or interpretation of a point. Many involve politicians, others US policy and actions, and still othe
Jul 28, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who would pull back the curtain
Recommended to Jason by: *Poker Without Cards,* Ben Mack
Beinhart has crafted an engaging, erudite thriller that reveals more than most folks are comfortable knowing about the spectacle of modern American "war." While the story is fictional (one would hope), the underlying premise--that power players use every medium available to manipulate the voting public and "manufacture consent"--is almost a truism these days. Consider that the book, while speculating on the origins of the first Gulf War, is frighteningly prescient in regard to the second invasio ...more
Heather Marie
Mar 01, 2016 Heather Marie rated it liked it
I admit that I saw the movie "Wag the Dog" first, and was originally expecting something similar. It's not the movie. At all. As a politico, I loved how the movie specifically focused on the creation of the war, whereas the book keeps politics as a subtext (albeit rather constant). I loved the sections with President Bush and Secretary Baker, and sometimes enjoyed the story line with Joe and Maggie. It was completely different, but wish that Bush and the politics of the Gulf War was a larger pre ...more
There are two parallel stories in this novel.

In the political part, President George Bush and Jim Baker are given an idea from a man on his deathbed. If there is ever a need to boost the President's popularity, stage a winnable war.

In the other portion of the story, a young Hollywood actress comes to see investigator, Joe Broz. She tells him that she was promised a part in a movie but the director disappeared. She wants Joe to find him.

The political segment of the story is reminiscent of Capote'
"Greg Adkins"
Mar 27, 2015 "Greg Adkins" rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, war
The basis for the movie "Wag the Dog", "American Hero" presumably takes its inspiration from philosopher Jean Baudrillard's claims that the first Gulf War wasn't "real." Rather than positing the faking of a fictional war (as in the movie), the book's ingenious conceit is that the Gulf War was in fact nothing but an elaborate hoax. Despite being exceedingly well-researched and sometimes devilishly clever in the way it integrates true events with the fake ones -- copious, detailed endnotes explain ...more
Apryl Anderson
This was brilliant! It's really nothing like one of the best movies ever: Wag the Dog...or is it? The dance between reality and conspiracy theory was so cleverly constructed, but dang what a crass tale! Not that it should be anything less—that would destroy the whole story, but it wasn't a fun read for me. I was looking for an escapist novel, I suppose...
Jun 24, 2009 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember hearing conspiracy theories during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, which were interestingly developed in this. I liked the footnotes throughout, which gave some credence to said theories, though I don't buy into them. I particularly enjoyed the parts where a character would say one thing, and the narrator would translate its real meaning.
Feb 02, 2011 Bicefalus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
un presidente americano un po in crisi organizza una guerra finta per poter rialzare il suo rating...
qualcuno ha voluto vederci gli echi della prima guerra del golfo ... ma a bush sr non era andato molto bene il trucchetto.
un interessante viaggio dentro alla macchina decisionale degli usa ...
Mar 05, 2009 Andrew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Supposedly the origin of the movie "Wag the Dog", the novel mixes political satire/conspiracy with more mundane and rather silly action/romance. I learned about Michael Ovitz and Steven Seagal in the real world though.
Jun 16, 2009 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deep
The movie "Wag the Dog" was very loosely based on this novel. I liked the movie so I had to read the book. Fun, weird, thought-provoking.
Jul 14, 2014 Kaethe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Proving once again that truth is stranger than fiction, this doesn't seem unbelievable at all.
Oct 14, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poly-sci
One of the few books where I enjoyed both the book and the movie (Wag the Dog).
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Larry Beinhart is an Edgar Award-winning author whose American Hero became the movie Wag the Dog."
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