A provocative, readable indictment for our time.

THE CASE AGAINST GEORGE W. BUSH

A sharp prosecution against the former president for the disasters of 9/11 and the Iraq War.

As Christopher Hitchens did with Henry Kissinger, so Markoff does with George W. Bush—without the literary flair, granted, but with every bit of the righteous indignation. In the manner of a prosecuting attorney, Markoff serves a brief that enumerates three kinds of actionable offense. The first is that Bush was criminally negligent in ignoring intelligence, from the moment he entered office in January 2001, that terrorists were mounting an imminent assault on the U.S. homeland. By way of evidence, the collective body of which is drawn from 600 annotated sources, Markoff analyzes the 379 speeches Bush gave between his first inauguration and Sept. 10, 2001, to show that Al-Qaida and/or Osama bin Laden turn up precisely zero times while Saddam Hussein, Iraq, and/or some combination of nuclear and chemical threats appear 143 times, oil another 41 times. “The numbers above,” writes the author, “seem at least close to courtroom proof that George W. Bush was far more interested in Hussein and Iraq’s oil than the risks to our country from Al-Qaida and bin Laden so often communicated to him.” Markoff’s second charge is that Bush—no puppet of Dick Cheney’s or some other master, he insists, but instead “an enthusiastic participant”—criminally wasted American blood and treasure in going to war with Iraq, at a direct cost of 4,400 American dead and $2 trillion, to say nothing of American wounded and psychologically shattered, along with untold numbers of Iraqi casualties. Bush’s authorization of torture and rendition for torture constitutes the third charge. Throughout, Markoff restrains himself from hyperbole and rhetorical flourish, at least until the very end of the book, when he asks, pointedly, “Did he think he was above the law or did he care?” His answer, that we’ll likely never know, does not diminish his characterization of the offenses as “reckless, dishonest, and tragically unnecessary.”

A provocative, readable indictment for our time.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64428-135-2

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Rare Bird Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more