Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President

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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: America's global war on ...

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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: America's global war on terror.

Yet for all of his influence, the world knows very little about Dick Cheney. The most powerful vice president in U.S. history has also been the most secretive and guarded of all public officials. "Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole?" Cheney asked rhetorically in 2004. "It's a nice way to operate, actually."

Now, in Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President, New York Times bestselling author and Weekly Standard senior writer Stephen F. Hayes offers readers a groundbreaking view into the world of this most enigmatic man. Having had exclusive access to Cheney himself, Hayes draws upon hundreds of interviews with the vice president, his boyhood friends, political mentors, family members, reticent staffers, and senior Bush administration officials, to deliver a comprehensive portrait of one of the most important political figures in modern times.

The wide range of topics Hayes covers includes Cheney's withdrawal from Yale; his early run-ins with the law; the incident that almost got him blackballed from working in the Ford White House; his meteoric rise to congressional leadership; his opposition to removing Saddam Hussein from power after the first Gulf War; the solo, cross-country drive he took after leaving the Pentagon; his selection as Bush's running mate; his commanding performance on 9/11; the aggressive intelligence and interrogation measures he pushed in the aftermath of those attacks; the necessity of the Iraq War; the consequences of mistakes made during and after that war; and intelligence battles with the CIA and their lasting effects. With exhaustive reporting, Hayes shines a light into the shadows of the Bush administration and finds a very different Dick Cheney from the one America thinks it knows.

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Editorial Reviews

Karen De Young
Through liberal quotations from Cheney memos, reports and speeches during the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, along with Cheney's interview comments, Hayes displays the deep roots of Cheney's current official persona. Building executive power at the expense of the legislative branch, making secrecy rather than transparency his fallback position on any issue and preferring power behind the scenes to public idolatry have been the bedrock of Cheney's beliefs and operating style throughout his career.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Before he became George W. Bush's running mate in the 2000 election, Hayes reports, Dick Cheney called the vice presidency "a cruddy job." But during his tenure, Hayes argues, Cheney transformed "this traditionally inconsequential office" into "a focal point of presidential power." While emphasizing Cheney's role as vice president, this biography follows his entire political career, beginning with a 1968 congressional fellowship and including key positions in the Ford and George H.W. Bush administrations, as well as 21 years as a congressman. Drawing on interviews with Cheney and others, as well as TV interviews and other journalistic reports, Hayes covers this material engagingly and efficiently. A reporter for the Weekly Standardand author of a previous book on the connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, Hayes approaches Cheney sympathetically, countering more critical accounts in the popular press-for example, he laments the way Ambassador Joseph Wilson's "flawed storyline" regarding forged evidence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Niger "hardened into conventional wisdom." The book may not convince detractors, but it sketches a vivid portrait of Cheney as an intelligent, quiet leader committed throughout his career, even as a member of Congress, to strengthening the power and authority of the executive branch. (July 24)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
Everything you ever (or never) wanted to know about the vice president; from the author of The Connection. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A worshipful portrait of Dick Cheney. Cheney, famously, does not talk, except to those of whom he has approved, and then not much. Here he rounds up a few words for neocon Weekly Standard senior writer Hayes, who loudly defended the veep's dodgy answers to uncomfortable questions regarding Iraq and al-Qaeda. A few of those words are revealing, as are quotations pulled from other interviews, such as Cheney's remark, "Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It's a nice way to operate, actually." Hayes allows that his subject's callow youth had its unsavory aspects, from a couple of drunk-driving arrests to years of evasion of service in Vietnam. (Of which Cheney famously said, "I had other priorities in the 60s than military service.") Glory years in the Nixon and Ford administrations move Hayes to much praiseful eloquence, though sometimes one wants to read between the lines, as when Cheney and Rumsfeld, famously the tightest of allies, found themselves nursing separate ambitions in an episode featuring a fleeting appearance by Christine Todd Whitman. Reading further between the lines, it emerges from Hayes's reporting that Cheney was initially reluctant to invade Iraq, then warmed to the job, stemming the hated Colin Powell's namby-pambyism and consolidating neocon power while finding time to tell Patrick Leahy to-well, it involves the F word. As for Valerie Plame, WMDs, the Hussein-bin Laden link and all that? Hayes notes in closing, "As much as Cheney has tried to ignore the harshest of the criticism leveled at him, he concedes that the sustained attacks about the administration's use of intelligence . . . have changed the way he performs his job."In other words, he's still not talking. Strictly for admirers.
From the Publisher
"A vivid portrait of Cheney." —-Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060723460
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/24/2007
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 632,789
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Sklar is the winner of several AudioFile Earphones Awards and a multiple finalist for the APA's prestigious Audie Award. Named a Best Voice of 2009 by AudioFile magazine, his work has twice earned him a Booklist Editors' Choice Award, a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award, and Audiobook of the Year by ForeWord magazine.
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Read an Excerpt


The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President
By Stephen F. Hayes


Copyright © 2007 Stephen F. Hayes
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-072346-0

Chapter One

The West

On January 30, 1945, Yeoman Richard Herbert Cheney was scheduled to return home to Sumner, Nebraska, on leave. That the break coincided with his son's birthday was serendipitous, but Marge Cheney told young Dick that his father had returned for the special celebration.

Cheney had grown up in Sumner, a rural, speck-on-the-map town 200 miles west of Lincoln, the state capital. For the first few years of his marriage, he supported his new family working as a bureaucrat in a program operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But in 1944, shortly after the United States joined the fighting in World War II, Cheney joined the U.S. Navy; he was assigned first to the Great Lakes Naval Station and eventually to Naval Station San Diego in southern California. Visits back home to Nebraska were rare.

When Cheney left, his wife, Marjorie, and their two young sons, Dick and Bobby, moved into the basement of his parents' home. Young Dick asked the questions any four-year-old might ask: Where has my father been? And why was he gone? Yeoman Cheney explained to his son that he was in the U.S. Navy and pointed to the insignia on hisshoulder. The most prominent feature of the yeoman's insignia is a large birdlike figure with its wings spread as if poised to fly. This only added to the confusion.

"I was convinced," Cheney recalls, "that when he was home he was my dad, but when he went back to the Navy, they put him through some kind of process and they turned him into one of those kind of deals I saw on his shoulder." Cheney thought the Navy turned his father into a bird. "I remember carrying that thought with me for years."

Dick Cheney lived his first thirteen years in Nebraska before moving farther west to Wyoming. His was an idyllic childhood and, for someone who would later be known for his gravity, remarkably carefree.

The family history of Richard Bruce Cheney, the forty-sixth vice president of the United States, is intertwined with the westward expansion of America. On his paternal side, Cheney's ancestors had virtually spanned the country in the course of the 1800s. His great-grandfather, Samuel Fletcher Cheney, was born in New Hampshire in 1829, and later moved with his family to Defiance, Ohio. There, he served as a captain in the Twenty-first Ohio Infantry and fought in the Civil War, becoming known as something of a Union hero; he served with distinction in many of the great battles of the war-at Stone's Ridge, the siege of Atlanta, and others.

After the war, Samuel Cheney returned to Defiance, where he ran the family lumberyard and worked part-time as a cabinetmaker. Although he had managed to survive unscathed through thirty- four battles, including some of the bloodiest fighting of the Civil War, Cheney's good fortune ended once he returned to Ohio. He lost part of his left hand in an accident at the sawmill and was unable to continue his trade. In the 1880s, he joined a growing number of pioneer families moving west in search of land and a new life. He settled in Amherst, Nebraska, on a homestead that would remain in the family for more than a century. He had a son, Thomas Herbert Cheney, in Ohio in 1869, and moved to Nebraska with his family when the boy was in his teens. A few years later, Thomas struck off to Sumner, Nebraska, where he would take a job as a cashier at what was the only bank in town.

Millions of pioneering Americans preceded the Cheneys in the migration west, and millions more would follow, pouring into the lands opened by the growth of the transcontinental railroad. Among them were Dick Cheney's maternal grandparents, Dave and Clarice Dickey. In the years after the turn of the century, they owned and operated the town diner in Syracuse, Nebraska, known as Dickey's Cafe. They weren't wealthy by any means, but they made enough money to survive.

This work led directly to jobs working as cooks on the Union Pacific railroad. The Dickeys lived for months at a time in a railcar as it moved up and down the tracks supplying food to the "section gangs" of 100 men who repaired old tracks and laid new ones. (Later, as a board member of Union Pacific, Cheney would discover that although they both worked and lived on the railroad, Dave Dickey was not an official Union Pacific employee because he was partially deaf and failed his physical; his wife, however, shows up on the payroll records as a cook and parttime bookkeeper.)

The Dickeys enjoyed life. Dick Cheney recalls: "That whole side of the family loved to play cards, drink a little bourbon"-here he pauses for a slight smile-"and loved a good story." In this environment, Marjorie Lorraine Dickey, Cheney's mother, developed a strong, energetic personality.

Richard Herbert Cheney's family was quite different. His father, Thomas Herbert Cheney, married young. His first wife died not long after their wedding, and several years later he married Margaret Ellen Tyler. Margaret, Richard Herbert's mother, was a devout Baptist who frowned on gambling and drinking and was determined to instill in her only child those same values.

Cheney was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on January 30, 1941, ten months before the attacks on Pearl Harbor would draw the United States into combat. He had an upbringing typical of most kids raised in wartime America. His father was away in the Navy, his mother ran the household, and his extended family pitched in to ease the burdens-financial and other-of life during World War II. He moved to Sumner at the age of three and lived there until his father returned from California after the war in 1946.

Once reunited, the Cheney family returned to Lincoln so that Yeoman Cheney could reclaim his job with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). The SCS was a bureau of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, created as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. Its mission was to promote soil conservation and combat soil erosion, both tasks crucial to the development of farmland throughout the country, particularly in the West ...


Excerpted from Cheney by Stephen F. Hayes Copyright © 2007 by Stephen F. Hayes. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2011

    Barnes & Noble High Prices

    Amazing that B&N is so weak on pricing compared to competitors. CHENEY IS THE MAN, BUT DO NOT BUY THE BOOK FROM B&N.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 6, 2011

    Research Paper

    This book was obviosly very well researched, but it reads more as a thesis than a book. I would have preferred more of Cheney's own thoughts and less quotes from newspapers and associates.

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  • Posted July 25, 2010

    This is information you will never receive from the elites at the Mainstream Media who only want to protect their own privilege status by espousing power in Washington through destructive Progressive Collectivism.

    Finally an objective understanding of one of the most experienced, disciplined and effective politicians of the modern era. Certainly you will get none of this information from the Mouthpieces for the Political Elite, the clueless Mainstream Media who call D.C. their Corporate Town and fail to understand how the Democracy and the Competitive Free Enterprise Systems works for the common man.

    Hayes is brilliant and understands what has made the U.S. one of the freest, greatest country on earth; a country that didn't rule the countries that attacked them and when in turn beat the attackers.

    Notice that Barnes & Noble prices this book over 200% of what it is available for on Amazon, as they often do when they want to protect their political agenda. So, asserting my freedom under Free Enterprise, you can figure out where I bought this book. This is why Amazon is doing well financially while B & N is on the fringe of bankruptcy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2010

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    Posted August 31, 2011

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    Posted September 8, 2013

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    Posted May 22, 2011

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