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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Penned by Pulitzer Prizewinning writer Ron Suskind and based on the revelations of former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, this controversial exposé is an eye-opening look at the first two years of President George W. Bush's uniquely eventful administration.
Suskind recounts how Alcoa CEO O'Neill -- a plainspoken businessman with unimpeachable ethics and a reputation for getting things done -- was recruited for the prestigious cabinet post; how, despite misgivings, he signed on to join a team he truly believed was committed to a centrist ideal; and how, 23 months later, he was summarily fired for his tell-it-like-it-is brand of pragmatic leadership. Chronicling the ups and downs of his tenure in the Bush White House, O'Neill describes some genuinely surreal scenes -- from the National Security Council meeting in February 2001, where regime change in Iraq mysteriously soars to the top of the foreign policy agenda, to mystifying presidential flip-flops on tax cuts, global warming, and corporate accountability that leave even top-tier officials scratching their heads. Tarred as a contrarian in an administration that valued ideology over analysis, O'Neill soon found himself blindsided by an inner circle of advisers that included his longtime friend Dick Cheney.
Inarguably, the most fascinating portrait (in a gallery that includes Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, and Alan Greenspan) is of POTUS himself. George W. Bush emerges as an inscrutable enigma, bereft of curiosity, intolerant of dissent, and curiously content to be scripted, rehearsed, and handled. It's evident that Paul O'Neill, with his passionate commitment to transparency and candor, and the opaque, super-secretive Bushites were a bad match from the get-go. Anne Markowski