When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences

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Viking, 2004 - Political Science - 447 pages
3 Reviews
Lying has become pervasive in American life—but what happens when the falsehoods are perpetrated by the Oval Office? As the lies told by our government become more and more intricate, they begin to weave a tapestry of deception that creates problems far larger than those lied about in the first place.

Eric Alterman’s When Presidents Lieis a compelling historical examination of four specific post-World War II presidential lies whose consequences were greater than could ever have been predicted. FDR told the American people that peace was secure in Europe, setting the stage for McCarthyism and the cold war. John F. Kennedy’s unyielding stance during the Cuban missile crisis masked his secret deal with the Soviet Union. Misrepresented aggression at the Gulf of Tonkin by the North Vietnamese gave LBJ the power to start a war. Finally, Ronald Reagan’s Central American wars ended in the ignominy of the Iran-contra scandal.

In light of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, which Alterman examines in the book’s conclusion, When Presidents Lieis a warning—one more relevant today than ever before—that the only way to prevent these lies is America’s collective demand for truth.

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User Review  - lkrier - LibraryThing

This kind of book is right up my alley: informative, detailed, and written engagingly enough that descriptions of cabinet meetings didn't put me to sleep. As a raving left-winger Alterman's book just ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rampaginglibrarian - LibraryThing

I learned a lot of history in general when reading this book and also that being a politician really means learning to lie with panache (unless you're Jimmy Carter) Read full review


On Lies Personal and Presidential
Franklin D Roosevelt Harry S Truman
John F Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis

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About the author (2004)

Eric Alterman is the “Stop the Presses” columnist for The Nation, the “Altercation” Web logger for msnbc.com (www.altercation.msnbc.com), and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Called “the most honest and incisive media critic writing today” by the National Catholic Reporter, he holds a BA from Cornell, a master’s degree from Yale, and a doctorate from Stanford.

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