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What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception
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What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception

3.3 40
by Scott McClellan

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In the bestselling book that provoked a media sensation, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan takes readers behind the scenes of the presidency of George W. Bush. Scott McClellan was one of a few Bush loyalists from Texas who became part of his inner circle of trusted advisers, and remained so during one of the most challenging and contentious periods of


In the bestselling book that provoked a media sensation, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan takes readers behind the scenes of the presidency of George W. Bush. Scott McClellan was one of a few Bush loyalists from Texas who became part of his inner circle of trusted advisers, and remained so during one of the most challenging and contentious periods of recent history. Drawn to Bush by his commitment to compassionate conservatism and strong bipartisan leadership, McClellan served the president for more than seven years, and witnessed day-to-day exactly how the presidency veered off course. In this refreshingly clear-eyed book, written with no agenda other than to record his experiences and insights for the benefit of history, McClellan provides unique perspective on what happened and why it happened the way it did, including the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, Washington's bitter partisanship and two hotly-contested presidential campaigns. He gives readers a candid look into what George W Bush is and what he believes and into the personalities, strengths, and liabilities of his top aides. Finally, McClellan looks to the future, exploring the lessons this presidency offers the American people as they prepare to elect a new leader.

Editorial Reviews

Scott McClellan was there: From 2003 to 2006, he served as White House press secretary, functioning daily as one of President Bush's inner circle. What Happened is neither a conventional apologia or a critique: "This is not a book to settle scores or enhance my own role, for better or worse…as a member of the President's senior staff. What I want to do is write in detail about what I know and what I learned in hopes that this account will place the events of the time, particularly after September 11, 2001, into a framework that make sense to me, to readers and later, to historians." To achieve his purpose, McClellan writes candidly about the president, the vice president, and their advisers; Iraq and the war on terror; Congress and the media.
Seattle Times
The former press secretary of President Bush (No. 43 version) empties out his notebooks, and all of Washington will be holding its breath.

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The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself.

Meet the Author

Scott McClellan served as White House press secretary from 2003 to 2006. Before that he served as the principal deputy White House press secretary and as traveling press secretary for the Bush Cheney 2000 campaign. Earlier in his career, Mr. McClellan served as deputy communications director in the Texas governor's office and campaign manager for three successful state campaigns. He is now a senior advisor to a global technology firm and communications strategist. He lives near Washington, DC.

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What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My take on Scott McClellen is that he's a smart guy who was disappointed by the people he believed in. I thought the book was very good and I appreciated Scott's insight and especially liked his recommendations for the next administration at the end of his book. I also read Bush at War. A lot of what Scott said in his book coincided with the events written about in Bush at War. I think it is an important book for all of us to read, especially in an election year that has so much at stake.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will join the list already written about aspects of the failed Bush Administration. As time goes on, I think more shocking truths will come out from others who were witness to the tragic debacle that has been the past eight years.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's easier to tell the truth - especially now that you can sell a book while doing it. My expectations were met - Scott trying to whitewash something that has already been cleansed, laundered, and hung out to dry. Interestingly, however, the way he went about telling his story by first denouncing an act by the Executive Branch, then absolving Bush of any culpability, then repainting the whole picture black. Not necessarily an interesting book - definitely not worth the price.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Compelling and griping insight into how the Bush administration deceived the American public and irreparably damaged our country.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very disappointed on last disc and heard very little new. If I had realized that it was an autobiography of Scott McClellan chances are very good I wouldn't have bought it. Interesting to see what a Press Secretary does but felt I heard a lot of self-back patting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book isn't for those who want to find new information. The facts that show the Bush administration lied to the US about the necessity of the Iraq war are clear and evident. McClellan is not the first official to say this. Tenet, formerly of the CIA, gives information equally damaging to the Bush case for war, if not more damaging. This is just another person with a different point of view providing more supporting evidence. It seems that some other reviewers are getting their opinions straight from Fox News. McClellan was in the position to know what he wrote about. He is not relaying information he had no access too. When he doesn't know exactly what was said, he says so. When he makes assumptions based upon his information, he says so. This is not some 'liberal plot'. It is not just an attempt to make money. The story is real. The American people were lied too. The Congress were lied too. Again, this isn't new information. We have known this for a long time. The facts are out there and widely available. Many Americans would rather deny the facts rather than feel that our country acted wrongly. It is not anti-American to admit our mistakes. It is tragic to ignore them and act as if they never happened. I think this book just tries to tell his view of 'What Happened'.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
McClellan presents a clear cut look from an insider into what became a political operation out of the people's White House, a symbol of freedom across the world. For those who believe any person in government serves anybody but the people, they are wrong. McClellan showed the highest loyalty to all Americans by revealing the truth, and he finally, though belatedly, remembered that as a public servant, he answers to the public. What is truly revealing, is the point when Bush admits to McClellan as they are getting on Air Force One that Bush was the one who ordered the release of information and even kept his spokeperson out of the loop. Bush should tell all future Presidents that they don't serve their buddies, they serve all the American people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Notwithstanding the pre-publication hype, I found this book highlighted some of the president's more redeeming/humane qualities, such as loyalty. The book probably has an over-empahasis on the CIA 'outing' versus other events of the Bush presidency. Much discussion of the continual campaign mode that the Bush team has employed through both terms.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When listening to some of the Press Releases/Statements put out during the years this book was written. It is easy to see the conflicts that arose regarding different interpretations of the events that took place. This provides a great counterpoint to the official statements released by members of the Bush Administration. When trying to descern the accuracy of events, alternative points of view are always a welcomed necessity.
DoctorPete More than 1 year ago
This book is truly a must read for all currently active players in national politics - at whatever level, of whatever Party and wherever positioned on the political spectrum - who truly aspire to serve our country first, before their Party, before their supporters and before their own personal self interests. It is a must read for all others of us who wish simply to cast informed and intelligent votes, or contribute their time and money wisely to support a particular Party or slate of candidates. It is a must read for still others who merely consider themselves students (serious or dillitante) of American politics and who look back on the last few decades and wonder "What ... (in holy hell) ... happened?" The Bush43 presidency - all eight years of it - was a Shakspearian tragedy of monumental proportions, for him, for his cherished legacy, indeed for the entire nation. McClellan delves deeply into an explanation of just how and why. Especially rewarding is his explication of the "permanent campaign" style so prevalent and so deeply harmful in the national politics of our day, whose roots he traces clearly all the way back to Nixon and beyond, touching (perhaps too lightly) on Johnson's contributions. Is the book flawed? Yes, but not irredeemably so. Is it partisan? Yes, inevitably to a degree, but the author's writing reveals an honest, genuine effort to be fair and balanced. Might the reader wish some parts downplayed or eliminated outright as minimally relevant to the central story, and other parts greatly expanded upon as vital pieces to the puzzle? Yes, but upon completing it and laying the book down, this reader felt compelled to declare, "Thankyou so much, Scot. Now I feel I have not just a deeper understanding of what the hell really happened, but a goodly inkling of what needs to be done on all sides to heal the wounds.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading two thirds of this book it is clear to me that it was written so Scott could tell his version of how Scooter Libby and Carl Rove lied to him about outing Valerie Plane. As Press Secretary he was told to stonewall the fact that he was lied to and is upset because he feels his reputation was badly tarnished. That is the basic purpose of this book. It also tells the story of a light weight whose main accomplishment prior to joining Bush was getting hazing eliminated from his fraternity. He also depicts a nieve guy who was loyal to obvious liars but liked the job and his position of influence so he conveniently became in denial of the lies he was spouting to the press daily. Scott still does not realize that all the lies were intentional and that Bush and his cronies knew exactly what they were doing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is excellent and really details the shameful state of affairs in our Washington, D.C. Too bad that people who don't discuss the facts of the book get into the mudslinging. I have only finished the first 2/3 of the book, but everybody in government should read this--and probably all outside of government. This is a really a sad tale of a terrible loss of leadership and lack of staight talk.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We all need this kind of books that give lights to the past.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will fascilitate a much needed dialogue in this country. Written by an insider to this generations biggest blunder, the Bush Presidency. Many parrallels can be found with this book and the new movie WAR Inc. Greed and corruption are not supposed to be a politic force in this country, but sadly they are. This will, in my humble oppinion, be the next 'All the Presidents Men'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great inside look with straight talk from a Texan about Bush's White House problems.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I almost put it down a few times in the beginning of the book, but it got more interesting as it progressed. Enjoyed the behind the scenes story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If Scott McClellan needs to cleanse his soul for working in an administration he lost faith in, he should try prayer instead of a book. What I learned is that he sold his own soul remaining loyal to what he no longer believed in and continued to spout half-truths and sometimes outright lies while cashing a paycheck earned from the taxes of the people he lied to. When you no longer believe in the work you are doing or the people you work for, quit.
kendra855 More than 1 year ago
This book was loaded with facts and did provide insights to the Bush administration decisions. In general I thought it was pretty dry and was almost a chronological diary of McClellan's time in the White House.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another book written by a White House staffer trying to assuage a guilty conscience, similar to the book Egil (Bud) Krough wrote about his experiences in the Nixon Administration. Scott McClellan candidly relates how he feels the Bush (#43) Administration lost its way, and how he, through excessive loyalty and some naivete, tried to go along with the Bush policies if not defend them as #43's Press Secretary. Finally he could take it no longer and quit. Its quite interesting to whom he assigns the most blame for "losing their way". To me, that was the most compelling part of the book, something an outsider might have suspected, but to have McClellan write it in detail gives it special credence. A good read for people interested in political Monday morning quarterbacking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Huskerfan More than 1 year ago
I have read many books written by many other officials from various presidential cabinets; to date, this is the first one that was so poorly written. Mr. McClellan obviously fell into a job he was not qualified for. It is obvious from his writing, his description of events, and yes, his opinion of his President. This man took a chance on him and this is how he repays him. I surely wouldn't want someone like Mr. McClellan for a friend or a colleague. He was the teflon that all decisions made by anyone flipped off of. He talks about the lack of organization in the White House. It doesn't sound like organization was something that he much thought of at anytime in his life. He is a whiner, the worst kind of employee, colleague or supposed friend. We don't hear an unkind word about any of his team from President Bush. Perhaps the Presidency was bigger than he expected. We all have to remember the events of 9/11 that took place and from which he led us out of. He also had Katrina, a devastating hurricane that affected more people than anyone could imagine at once. When we have all walked a mile in his shoes we have the right to condemn. Mr. McClellan should be the last one to throw stones at the administration that he was a part of. It was a privilege to serve and he has darkened his image by writing this poorly written book.
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