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Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy
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Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  264 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Hailed by liberals and conservatives alike for its revelation of an emerging threat to the checks and balances devised by our Founding Fathers, Takeover is a searing investigation into how a group of true believers, led by Dick Cheney, has seized vast powers for the presidency – and permanently altered the constitutional balance of American democracy.

Takeover unveils the m
Hardcover, First Edition, 400 pages
Published September 5th 2007 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2007)
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Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, law, american-history

As an American, you spend most of your life believing that your nation is built upon a bedrock, that the Constitution establishes three coequal branches of government. Imagine your surprise when you realize America is actually constructed on quicksand. That what is constitutional or unconstitutional can shift according to the whims of whatever party, or person, is in power. Take signing statements: the nifty issuances of a president after Congress has passed a law which declare that said preside
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it
I read this book last year, and was shocked. I had heard about many of the individual incidents Charlie Savage discusses, but hadn't thought of them as part of a systematic, carefully orchestrated plan to undermine the US Constitution and permanently upset the intended balance of power between the three branches of government. And I recalled reading about a few of the people mentioned, but was surprised to see them named as key players. In particular, this guy John Yoo. Was he really so importan ...more
Jan 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
While I was initially hesitant to read this book (I never would've read it had I not gotten a copy for free), I pleasantly surprised with how interesting this book was. It offers a concise yet comprehensive history of historical events that have shaped the debate over presidential power, focusing some on the post-WWII administrations but then honing in on the presidencies of Nixon and those who have followed. Mixed in with this are some great biographical sections on Dick Cheney whom, I think mo ...more
Matt Carrington
Jan 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who's interested in how Bush screwed up our country without us realizing it
Shelves: read-in-2008
If you consider yourself to be a fan of American democracy (which I hope would be most of you), I'd definitely recommend checking out this book. Beyond some very interesting background biography on key neoconservative figures such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, this book provides a scary breakdown of how the George W. Bush Administration has worked to strengthen the executive branch of government by stacking the courts and skirting around congressional authority. Along the way, civil libert ...more
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Riveting account of the expansion of executive power under the Bush/Cheney administration, a seemingly dry subject that nonetheless ties a great deal of this country's evil under one rubric...the legalization of torture and warrantless wiretapping, the participation of lobbyists in codifying this country's energy policy, climate change denial, the politicization of the justice department and the smothering extension of secrecy to almost every area of our government.

The most shocking chapter, in
Nov 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most important books of the past six years. Read it. It will make you flinch. I wish there were more than five stars available on the rating system.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With the profiles of Bush and Cheney on the dust jacket, I thought this book was going to be a nostalgic recap of leading America into a quixotic, blood-drenched search for chimeric weapons of mass destruction in far deserts on the other side of the globe. While my assumption wasn't entirely incorrect, this book is devoted to a thorough overview of the contradiction of how the American government is supposed to function, and how presidents have corrupted their office in a bald-faced grab of more ...more
Dec 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Last book read, "Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy" by Charlie Savage.

This is a very angry-making book. It takes all of those news stories that were of concern during the last eight years and sets them into a context. Really, just putting them all together is enough cause for anger, but some of the additional details that did not get much publicity the first time around are also very disturbing. The controversies around torture and wire-tapp
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
For anyone interested in the separation of powers, checks and balances, and excessive executive powers I highly recommend reading this book. Charlie Savage of the Washington Post tackles a bit of history of power grabs by the executive branch and how Congress and the courts kept it in check. After Watergate, Dick Cheney and like minded conservatives during the Reagan administration began an earnest effort to restore the power and privileges that the executive branch had lost after the crimes of ...more
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Charlie Savage outlines a persuasive argument that the Bush Administration -- under the leadership of Cheney and his aides -- used threats of terrorism to expand presidential powers to unprecedented levels. Savage traces this back to Cheney's experience in the Ford Administration and the restrictions Congress placed on presidential power in the wake of Watergate. The expansion of presidential power that Cheney advocated (in incredibly strong-arm fashion for a VP) was not just in the service of t ...more
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone. Seriously, everyone ought to read this book.
Shelves: cornette
Holy smokes, this is an important book.

Charlie Savage meaningfully and engagingly presents a lot of detail about how Cheney and Bush are accumulating frightening amounts of power for the presidency through a very deliberate approach based on a vision of the President having inherent authority not specifically granted by the Constitution or by statute and of that being the only authority that exists over the executive branch--that is to say they explicitly dispute that laws passed by Congress ap
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Savage does an excellent job presenting his case for how Cheney systematically chipped away at the oversight responsibilities of Congress and manipulated Washington.

The most frustrating actions are those taken to subvert the court systems and to allow for torture of political prisoners. Hard not to get frustrated and angry while reading this book--at myself as much as at the Bush-Cheney administration. I’m angry with myself for not being better informed and doing more about it at the time period
Donald Shank
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There is a damned good reason our founders wrote a system of checks and balances into our Constitution. They had suffered under the tyranny of a king. They knew what evil could come under a government run not by the rule of law but by the arbitrary and capricious rule of men above the law.[br/]This is the story of how Fascism begins, of how an Executive branch that believes itself to be above the law (via "national security" secrecy and a flood of "signing statements") has led our nation into ki ...more
Sep 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is amazing. You'll want to kiss Charlie Savage if you were to meet him. I'm gonna do it. You should too. Plus he's cute, AND smart, AND good looking. Not for the faint of heart, Savage tells the story of the rise to power of some of the key players who've been manipulating politics the past 30+ years:Rumsfeld, Cheney, and the impact and legacy of the corrupt and disgusting Nixon Administration.
I found this was a great and well-written history of what's come before and how we got into the me
Apr 22, 2008 rated it liked it
I had to read this book for a political science class and though it was hard to get into it had parts that were extremely interesting. I wouldn't recommend it as a pleasure read but if you want to feel informed about the Bush-Cheney administration and their actions over the course of their time in office this is a good book to read. Don't buy it, borrow it from the library or a friend. You will not be reading this again and again.
It's easy to forget the outrages of the Bush-Cheney administration until you see them cataloged as thoroughly as Savage does here. And helpfully, Savage explains how the Bush-Cheney actions break with the precedents of their predecessors.

Though I found its non-chronological construction hard to follow at times, this is a great resource for anyone who is interested in presidential politics and power, and wants to be reminded of how awful Bush, Cheney & co. have truly been.
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly good, incredibly scary. Charlie Savage did a masterful job researching the history of presidential power and authority, and the role that signing statements have played in modern presidencies. The main focus of the book is on how the Bush/Cheney Administration has increased dramatically the amount of control and power that resides in the Executive Branch and the (often controversial, probably illegal) methods that they have used to get and retain that power.
Camille McCarthy
May 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
I liked the premise of the book. However, although it had a lot of pertinent facts, the narrative did little to hold the interest of the reader. I couldn't get past the first few chapters and did not finish the book. The chapters were too long with too much information and too little 'story' to tie it all together. I don't recommend this book; I think the subject is important but I am sure there are better books out there with the same topic.
Vince Carter
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderfully well-written (but scary) account of how the Bush-Cheney regime has shown throughout its terms that it has a distorted view of the Constitution and especially the separation of powers. Attitudes like that can lead to dictatorships. Unfortunately, unconstitutional things they have done can well haunt the country for years to come.
Jess Acosta
Sep 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Political Enthusists
Recommended to Jess by: Barnes & Noble bargain shelf
There is some truly disturbing evidence with documentation to back it up, that we are losing our liberties and moving rapidly from Empire to Despotism. A little tedious at times but definately worth the read.
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Read this. What Savage explains here clarifies so much, not only about the recent Bush II Administration, but of many Administrations since FDR- and it is a problem that cares not for party, despite the GOP being most favorable to it, and must be solved for the good of the Republic.
Clif  Wiens
Oct 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Charlie's a great reporter - and he tells an important story that may impact the U.S for decades to come.
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: patriots.
One of the more frightening books I've read this year. You should read it too.
Dec 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone old enough to vote
Shelves: booksread2007
This is the most thought provoking book I've read this year. It is a truly frightening review of the George W. Bush presidency.
Jan 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
This is probably the scariest and most upsetting book I have ever read that wasn't about, like, genocide.
Jul 01, 2008 rated it liked it
It's weird to look back on eight years of a presidency and still feel little but impotent rage.
Oct 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Bush / Chaney impressively evil. Presidential power way expanded in last 8 yrs.
Kevin Scott
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Best book on the American presidency written in the past decade.
Ericka Fluellen
Sep 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book gives insight into the presidency of George bush and the relationship between he and vice president cheney. Very interesting read.
Dan Olson
Jan 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Engaging and very enlightening, if not frightening. More later
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“In all, the future secretary of defense and wartime vice president[, Dick Cheney,] would receive five deferments during the Vietnam War, protecting him from service during his draft-eligible years.” 5 likes
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