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The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,384 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich examines the trail of fictions manufactured by the Bush administration from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, exposing the most brilliant spin campaign ever waged

When America was attacked on 9/11, its citizens almost unanimously rallied behind its new, untested president as he went to war. What they didn't know at the time was that the Bu

Hardcover, 342 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2006)
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Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Every thirty pages or so I put this book down to keep my blood from boiling.
Beginning with 9/11, President Bush was given leeway by congress and the press to pursue a “war on terror”. Watching events unfold on TV, or in the newspapers, it is difficult to get a longer perspective on the marketing, and selling, of the Iraq war as a part of the war on terror. This book provides perspective, drawing on public information to provide a richly detailed account of an administration that sold a bad ide
Jeremy Lyon
Jun 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
If you're a member of that dwindling population of American citizens who sees George Bush, President, as anything other than disaster incarnate, don't read this book (or this review). And please don't vote in November.

For the rest of us, there's nothing in this book that you don't already know. But by packing all of the administration's incompetence, distortions, manipulations and outright lies of the last eight years into a single volume, Frank Rich brings home how completely destructive the B
May 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audiobook in my car. This book is a chronological (literally, it follows a strict timeline) account of the Bush Administration through the publishing of the book. It starts with W's upbringing and why he's so insecure of himself and rolls right into the war planning (or lack thereof). I have to admit that this was depressing as hell. I had forgotten many of the scandals and foul-ups over the last few years (since there were so many fresh ones to replace them), so to have them a ...more
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Are they really so manipulative? Are they really willing to put appearance and salesmanship over substance and responsible governing? Do they really have so little regard for their country's citizenry? Do they really lie that much? Do they really think we're that stupid? Do they really think they can backtrack and cover every mistake?

Well, apparently they are and they do. This book clinches it: I have no doubt that if George Bush could run again, his minions could once again manipulate the masse
Apr 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Rich's book traces the latticework of lies built by the Bush (II) administration to guide the nation into war with Iraq. He focuses not only on the administration's public relations techniques to sell the war, but the press's complicity. But why the press choose to abdicate its investigatory role goes relatively unexamined. (Or rather, it's examined, but not as deeply as I would have preferred.)

If you hadn't lived through the build-up to the Iraq war and only had Rich's book as a guide, you wou
Feb 20, 2007 rated it liked it
I learned most of what I know about '80s American politics by watching SNL reruns on Comedy Central; fortunately, future generations won't have to suffer that show to know what's going on right now because they'll be able to read the breezy, current events sum up that is Frank Rich. Putting everything that's happened lately (ca. 2000-2006) in context leads to some valuable insights, especially with Rich's background as a theater/pop culture critic. Exceptional sentence structure, a large vocabul ...more
Evan Casey
Aug 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
While certainly a book that may appeal a bit more to Democrats and those that lean to the left, his approach in tackling the Bush administration's is a reasonable, well-researched, and meticulously crafted one that few rational people could argue with. It was a joy to read not only because I strongly agree with the politics of it, but also because Rich is such an excellent writer that the story itself becomes interesting to read. In addition to that, I learned so much about the events of the pas ...more
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anybody who hates Bush
This is a very good book. Eye opening on the whole "Bush is a fucking jerk-off retard" mindset. It gives you a list of all the shit this asshole (and his friends) have put the mindless country through, and why, and how. The author is of course a lefty, liberal, democrat, or what have you. But he manages to tell this story as fact and not bias. It is not a book used to rile people up to hate our current government. It is simply a chronological recount of the things that actually happened, that th ...more
Rajesh Kurup
Halfway into the Obama presidency and I remember why I said I'd rather vote for a shrub over Bush after reading this book. The level of deception and manipulation that occurred during the Bush administration was truly astounding. What's unbelievable is reading about people who are joining "Miss me Yet" groups on Facebook. I really wish that voters could read this book when they go to polls in November 2012.

Ok, this is a book review, not the opportunity for a rant. But, I suspect that one's reac
Will Byrnes
Oct 05, 2008 rated it liked it
The subtitle tells it all, “the decline and fall of truth from 9/11 to Katrina.” This book is about how the Bush administration, with their willing accomplices in the media have made a casualty of truth. It is not, as one might expect it to be, a compilation of his NY Times op ed pieces, but a well ordered, easy to read overview of what lies were told, when, by whom and to whom. Good stuff. I doubt that any Republican would get past ten pages though. Although Rich offers plenty of concrete examp ...more
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a very interesting read. Most people know the media bends the facts and skew things to fit some agenda. But what happens when a government does this? Hires people to fake news? Fake truth? And how do they get away with it? Anyone of any political persuaion should read this book. Just because this is a critque of a Republican administration doesn't mean they are the only ones to have done this. People need to develop a healthy skepticisim and NOT buy into the Limbaughs and O'Reilly's of t ...more
I expected a lot more from this book because Frank Rich wrote it. I had seen him on some news programs about current and cultural events and knew he had written for the NY Times. I just wanted it to be more. I felt like it was a laundry list of events without detailed explanation and analysis. I thought Mr. Rich was going to give his take on events and actions, but he chose to just present them in the order that has now been discovered that they happened in. He's looking back on things that happ ...more
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
everyone was starting to salivate over bush last week as he opened his library so i read this book to recap his tenure in office. anyone who had someone killed or injured in iraq or, for that matter, any iraqi, should be irate that bush, cheney, rumsfeld, rice, wolfowitz, feitz, powell and rove are not rotting in jail for their crimes. i followed all this in real time but seeing it all presented in one book made it stunningly clear how dangerous it is to elect a shallow-thinking ambitious person ...more
May 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Just when you thought you'd been furious with the Bush administration for the last time, another book comes along to get your blood boiling all over again. Rich concentrates on the "selling" part of everything from the wars to Katrina, with emphasis on the complicity of the media. Compelling reading. And there's even a "final word" on why we went into Iraq--which is more cynical than any I had heard before but pretty convincing when you've read the whole saga. And the man can write.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
this tells you a lot about the bushes and cheney and rumsfeld ...
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished
The organizing principle of this book is clear: It is a comprehensive list of everything the Bush administration did wrong, big and small, in the arguments leading up to the war in Iraq and in the handling of the war itself, until 2006 when this book was published. If you cannot name any of these mistakes, you would do well to choose this book; if you're basically familiar with the accusations that eventually came to light in the press, you won't learn anything new, but you might still appreciat ...more
Steven Peterson
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a book that gets one to thinking, but it can also irritate one.
Its unremittingly critical tone toward the Bush Administration puts one off. Goodness knows that the Bush Administration engaged in "Swift Boating" at the slightest provocation (i.e., if one disagree with the official Administration line), but critics might better refrain from going over the top.

Nonetheless, that said, the volume is interesting and valuable reading. By now, it is clear that much of the information used to j
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a stark account of the manipulation of the news media and the American people by the George W. Bush in order to fulfill its goal (set months before the attacks of 9/11) to invade Iraq and achieve regime change by toppling Saddam Hussein. The book almost takes one's breath away by the audacity, hubris and lack of principles by the neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration. Bush and his people decided to create their own reality - they ensured that the evidence matched their desire to i ...more
Richard Gill
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
The Greatest Story Ever Sold
By Frank Rich

I’ve had this Audio book for quite a while but it took me a long time to get to it. It wasn’t because I was too busy, but I think because I was afraid to read it. The title itself provides a strong indication of what the contents might contain, and suggests the book will provide at least a summary of the author’s research that led to his conclusion. Frank Rich did not disappoint. He uses certifiable facts to build a case proving the second Bush administr
Feb 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think what I liked most about this book was that it reminded me of the feelings I was having during the years following the 9/11 attacks and wondering if it was so wrong to not feel a particular sense of pride in the country or patriotism surrounding our decisions to go to war and engage in war in the ways we did. I won't pretend I had a full understanding of the situation and the issues the world and America were facing(I was quote young and didn't even remotely read a newspaper or otherwise ...more
Sep 02, 2011 rated it liked it
pretty thorough takedown of the G. W. Bush administration on the theme that they were incompetent, manipulative (esp. of the mainstream media, who come in for a lot of bashing here), and deceitful. Most of the focus is on the run-up to the Iraq War, but there is also Hurricane Katrina recovery effort etc. Helpful timeline in the back of the book contrasts what document discovery shows was known when vs. what was said publicly about the hunt for Weapons of Mass Destruction (or "weapons of mass de ...more
Sep 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pol
Nothing new, alas…
"Why, of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can hope for is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war, not in Russia, not in England, not in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy
Jerry Borchardt
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An appropriately poisoned pen recounting and accounting of the George W. Bush presidency, especially considering the mendacity of the administration's rationale for invading Iraq. Frank Rich's secondary purpose is to indict a complacent news media that (largely) did not challenge the Bush administration's dubious statements about the necessity of war in Iraq, including Rich's own New York Times.

Rich's book should be read by anyone concerned to remember the dubious, even malignant, presidency of
May 24, 2011 rated it liked it
A readable, well-written summary of the selling of the Iraq war to the American public, The Greatest Story is perhaps most compelling in the last third of the book, where Rich provides a side-by-side timeline of what the Bush administration knew, and what it was telling the public was true. Each item in the timeline is meticulously sourced, and the original citations of the newspaper articles, books, and reports Rich references are easily found in the footnotes to the main chapters. It makes for ...more
Nov 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people are concerned about our country
If you follow Frank Rich in the NYT, you can think of this book as one long column about one thing. Rich defends his premise in an organized and data-driven manner which, although I'm already pre-disposed to believe, try to remain skeptical even to my own point of view. If his perspective can be refuted, I'd like to see it.And if this is even close to truth, we've got some criminals in the Bush administration. Read this to validate your opinions, win bets and arguments with in-laws by providing ...more
Good book. Probably the biggest reason I don't rate this much higher has more to do with my late reading of the book. It being 2012 and all there isn't much of this that isn't common knowledge if you've even been half listening to current events. So really had I read this sooner I might have enjoyed it more but at this late a date it was a little more boring than it should have been. I did find the timeline in the back a big help for quick reference to events as they happened. Also I think the e ...more
Aug 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is exactly what it says it is: a comparison of the official Bush administration story with the truth, all the way from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina. After 9/11 the administration began a long campaign to increase its power, a campaign that was ultimately exposed for what it was in the aftermath of the hurricane and the government's handling of it.
There isn't really anything new here, as it came out in 2006 and many of the stories in this timeline have already been told. Mostly this is jus
This is not a book I recommend to those who love Pres. Bush and his team unconditionally. However, I didn't like the book too much mainly because I found it hard to follow. The case Rich was trying to make didn't flow very easily and it seemed full of information that didn't clearly show me how it supported his arguments. Overall, I just found it hard to follow, make the connections and be convinced (even though I think he has a valid case). The most enjoyable/helpful part of the book to me was ...more
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2010
I had a good inkling of things being wrong during the Bush presidencies. Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld were just too ready for anything in order to get what they wanted.

This book is a complete pull the bandage off your eyes as to the complete PR handling of the presidency, the wars and the media. A production better financed and more refined than most big budget movies.

It's criminal that Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld and most of the other players were never jailed or at least censored. They are still
May 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in politics, the media and the use of PR techniques
Shelves: politics, book-club
I put off reading this book for a year, for no good reason. Frank Rich has written an excellent account of the use of communications tools--the media and media techniques, basic public relations principles, and so forth--in government. Although focused on the Bush administration, Rich looks at the Clinton Administration, the US news media and news outlets and the broader social context of the first years of the twenty-first century in America. Well-researched, this book offers perceptive analysi ...more
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Frank Rich is a columnist (and former chief theater critic) for The New York Times who focuses on American politics and popular culture. His column ran on the front page of the Sunday arts and leisure section from 2003 to 2005; it now appears in the expanded Sunday Week in Review section.
More about Frank Rich...