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Hardcover Cheney: The Untold Story of the Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President in American History Book

ISBN: 0060723467

ISBN13: 9780060723460

Cheney: The Untold Story of the Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President in American History

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Book Overview

During a forty-year career in politics, Vice President Dick Cheney has been involved in some of the most consequential decisions in recent American history. He was one of a few select advisers in the room when President Gerald Ford decided to declare an end to the Vietnam War. Nearly thirty years later, from the presidential bunker below the White House in the moments immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, he helped shape the response:...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

One Helluva Read...

Okay, just finished one helluva wild ride reading CHENEY. Rest assured Hayes doesn't gloss over his faults, you get the real guy, warts and all, going from his lowest point in failure and 10 years later he's the President's advisor. Hayes also scooped notorious practical jokes between Cheney and Jim Naughton, a reporter with the NYTimes who once donned a chicken suit for effect and swore to get even. Hilarious incident: Cheney found Yale impossible, could not get into it as a kid who wore cowboy boots and was a lineman for the county. So here's Cheney, 40 years later working for a president who, despite his reputation as an intellectual lightweight, had actually managed to graduate from Yale: "On May 21, 2001, George W. Bush was invited back to New Haven to address its graduating students. 'To those of you who received honors, awards, and distinctions, I say, well done. And to the C students I say, you too can be president of the United States. A Yale degree is worth a lot, as I often remind Dick Cheney, who studied here but left a little early. So now we know -- if you graduate from Yale, you become president. If you drop out, you get to be vice president." And you'll really love Lynn Cheney. Without her nagging, he'd still be a lineman for the county. Not that there's anything wrong with that! And yes, it was sheer pleasure reading about his passion for fly fishing. maggie P.S. for those of you who are puzzled by the inscrutable Rummy, your fix is here.

Remarkable biography about a remarkable man

For more than a quarter-century in public life, virtually no one from any part of the political spectrum had a bad word to say about Dick Cheney. In fact, even rabid partisans like Ted Kennedy Tip O'Neill had words of praise for Dick Cheney. All that changed, of course, when Cheney accepted George W. Bush's invitation to become the Vice Presidential candidate. Within a matter of hours, seemingly, every left-winger in the world knew of Cheney as an evil man, a living Satan. Such is the nature of partisan poltics in the contemporary United States. Stephen F. Hayes, much to his credit, has written a true biography of Dick Cheney, not a hagiography. Cheney's life is extensively examined in more than 500 pages by friend and foe alike. Warts, such as Cheney's youthful arrests for drunk driving, are there along with Cheney's exemplary service to the nation as Chief Of Staff to President Ford and Secretary of Defense and as a Congressman. Hayes provides an extensive bibliography of 32 pages, so critics will find themselves grasping at straws when they hurl what have become the standard smears of the political left, such as canards that Halliburton, which Cheney ran for a few years, has been awarded contracts in an irregular manner and that Cheney profits therefrom. Hayes was accorded great access to Cheney through hours of one-on-one interviews. There is no question that Hayes is well disposed to Cheney: anyone familiar with Hayes would know that before even picking up this book. But Hayes does not yield to his subject. In fact, his objectivity throughout is commendable. There is a richness to this book. Dozens of details which might escape attention in the hub-bub of daily life are recalled here, such as the fact that Nancy Pelosi was one of the few members of Congress regularly briefed on the electronic intercept program that she so roundly condemned after The New York Times leaked its existence. In short, Pelosi fully approved the program before she fully condemned it, when that became poltically expedient. Cheney throughout remains Cheney: an intelligent man who doesn't talk much, a thoroughly capable and competent administrator and, above all, a man who cares deeply about the future of the United States, which many of his detractors seem not to. People opposed to Cheney as a matter of political partisanship will not be drawn to this biography because it does not cater to their need to malign Cheney, the same man who their leaders praised for more than a quarter-century. Conservatives will find illumination of a man many of them have grown to respect. Those who are simply interested in history in the making will find Hayes' work to be an excellent example of the craft of biography and will find themselves confronted with an interesting portrait of an interesting man. Overall, Stephen Hayes has done the nation and the man a service with this commendable, objective and informative biography of Dick Cheney. Jerry

A close look at a man not easily understood.

The most important fact this book provides about the vice-president is how effectively he fills a unique role in American history. I am currently reading Harry Truman's memoirs. The contrast between the role Truman filled during his 87 days as vice-president, and the role Dick Cheney has played could not be greater. One reason why Cheney has been so effective is his willingness to subordinate his public image to the desires of the Bush Administration. During the vice-presidential debate, Hayes quotes several observers as saying that Cheney and Lieberman should have been at the top of their respective tickets.(Page 295) On several occasions, the Bush handlers have limited Cheney's contacts with the press to avoid unfavorable comparisons to Bush. This has resulted in the "secrecy" image of Cheney being even more persistent than his own inclinations might have wished. It has also resulted in his poor approval ratings, a new phenomenon for a man whose public image for 25 years was positive and even moderate rather than conservative. His rapid rise in government is chronicled after the false start of his Yale years. I liked this part and it reminded me of a similar situation described in General Tommy Franks' biography. He, too, flunked out of college as a result of too much partying and not enough motivation. Maybe I am more sympathetic from my own experience at that age. Cheney was a varsity athlete and star graduate of Natrona County High School in 1959. After the Yale fiasco, he returned to Wyoming and had a few years where his future wasn't promising. He and his high school sweetheart, Lynne, were married in 1964 and he returned to the University of Wyoming to finish his degree and go on to graduate school. Both worked on PhD programs and he gave up his ambition to be a professor only when the offers in politics became too difficult to turn down. In 1969, he went to work for Donald Rumsfeld in the Nixon Administration and by 1975, he was Chief of Staff for President Ford. When Ford lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter, Cheney returned to Wyoming and, in 1978, was elected as Wyoming's sole member of the House of Representatives. Ironically, his degree from the University of Wyoming was far more helpful there than a Yale degree would have been. It was during that campaign that he suffered his first heart attack. He was 37. His Congressional career was highly successful and he was in line to be Speaker of the House when President George Bush asked him to become Secretary of Defense in the wake of the failure of the John Tower nomination. His famous discretion was in full display during an Evans and Novak TV interview after he had been offered the job but had not yet accepted it. They discussed possible candidates to replace Tower and Cheney said not a word. Novak had to scrap the interview tape the next day when Cheney was announced as the nominee. The history of his time in the second Bush Administration is more familiar but has been grossly d

Beware of political opposition masquerading as a review

Stephen F. Hayes's new biography of Vice President Cheney is narrative history at its best. Decidedly not an authorized biography, the book is unsparing in its account of Cheney's development from an "analytical" political scientist, primarily interested in political methods, into the most powerful American conservative since President Reagan. Hayes shows how Cheney's experience in the Nixon and Ford administrations encouraged his development from a "moderate" without ideological moorings into a principled conservative whose skepticism of governmental solutions to human problems is founded upon firsthand knowledge of governmental failures. Hayes is interested in neither gossip nor dirt. If you want that, you'll have to find a different book. Nor is it accurate to say that Hayes offers little new information. I had not known, for example, that Cheney went from being a Yale dropout and electrical-company lineman (with two drunk driving arrests) to White House insider in just a decade. If a man capable of such improbable progress fascinates you; if you do not want your preconceptions confirmed, either for or against the man; if you are curious how the "most powerful and controversial vice president" in American history came to assume that title; if you are convinced that a man ought to be judged by how he explains himself rather than by conspiracy theories; if you want to learn about the Vice President's moral and intellectual development and if you believe that it is possible, even for your political opponents, to act from moral and intellectual principle; then this is the book for you. Hayes is a political journalist, and writes like one. As a consequence, the book is not without its faults. It is more of an "oral" biography, depending largely upon interviews, than a "literary" one, depending upon documents. Similarly, it is not scholarly biography, which might supply more background information on events, movements, and the lesser figures in Cheney's life. Because the focus is exclusively on Cheney, things get dropped without explanation. Hayes discusses Cheney's disagreement with Henry Kissinger over whether President Ford should meet with Alexander Solzhenitsyn, for example, but never reports the outcome. (Ford declined to meet with him.) These are small flaws, though, especially given the book's informativeness and easy readability. Overall, this is a superb look into the inner political machinery of the Republican Party over the past three decades, which should appeal to fair-minded opponents and supporters of Vice President Cheney alike.

Damage Control! Five Stars for the research and effort alone

Stephen Hayes should definitely be commended for the brave effort of undertaking a challenging project to look at the "other" side of Cheney, probably the most controversial, talked about and secretive vice-presidents of all time. The carefully selected facts presented throughout this book may not convince Cheney's detractors, but the meticulous research that has been done just cannot be ignored. Hayes writes that he spent nearly 30 hours interviewing Cheney -- one-on-one, and conducted another 600 interviews for the book. It is an unprecedented amount of face time for an author, and he has done an excellent job of presenting the details in a manner that is readable for those who even hate the Vice President to the extreme extent. It's fascinating to read Cheney's early years in his birth state of Nebraska, his college ( and Yale) failures, his service as chief of staff in the Ford administration, and his meteoric rise as a young Republican conservative in Congress. If you really want to know the deep roots of Cheney's current official personality, and why he prefers making secrecy rather than transparency his fallback position on almost all issues, you should definitely read this book. N.Sivakumar Author of: America Misunderstood: What a Second Bush Victory Meant to the Rest of the World
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