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

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

by Eric Alterman
     
 

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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 Lie is a compelling

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Overview

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 Lie is 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 Lie is 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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Editorial Reviews

"When in doubt," advised Mark Twain, "tell the truth." As if to prove Twain's point, Eric Alterman examines four 20th-century cases of little White House lies that escalated into major national problems. The four examples are bipartisan: FDR's misrepresentation of the Yalta Conference; JFK's lies about the Cuban Missile Crisis; Lyndon B. Johnson's fabrication of North Vietnamese aggression; and Dwight Eisenhower's costly fibs about our Central American policy. The book closes with an examination of the mendacity of the current administration. When Presidents Lie isn't just an honesty sermon; it's a fascinating study of American foreign policy in the post-World War II era.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670032099
Publisher:
Viking Adult
Publication date:
09/23/2004
Series:
Penguin Lives Series
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.36(h) x 1.47(d)

Meet the Author

Eric Alterman, media columnist for the Nation, is professor of English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, senior fellow of the Center for American Progress, and “Altercation” weblogger for MSNBC.com. He is the author of five previous books, including What Liberal Media? and Sound and Fury.

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