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The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism [Hardcover]

Ron Suskind
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Aug 2008
From Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Ron Suskind comes a startling look at how America and the West lost their way, and at the struggles of their respective governments to reclaim the moral authority on which their survival depends. From the White House to Downing Street, and from the fault-line countries of South Asia to the sands of Guantanamo, Suskind offers an astonishing story that connects world leaders to the forces waging today's shadow wars and to the next generation of global citizens. Tracking down truth and hope, Suskind delivers historic disclosures with this emotionally stirring and strikingly original portrait of the post 9-11 world.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 415 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (5 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061430625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061430626
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,301,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ron Suskind was the WALL STREET JOURNAL's senior national affairs reporter from 1993 to 2000, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing while working there. He is the author of several acclaimed books and lives in Washington DC with his wife and two sons. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Suskind writes a very different style of "post 9/11" or "anti-neo-con" book than the run-of-the-mill current affairs book.

The style is almost like a novel: although it is collated from actual interviews with many participants, it runs through their conversations, and inner thoughts and feelings from the period 2004-5. There is George Bush, a couple of US intelligence officials, a teenage Afghan exchange student in the USA plus his host family and friends, a lawyer representing a Guantanamo detainee, and a successful Pakistani college graduate starting to make a living for himself in America, among other characters. It has an almost Dan-Brownish kind of pace (don't panic, it's much better written than that), following each character from episode to episode in real time, written in the present tense, often leaving them in a cliff-hanging state: it leaves the Pakistani graduate arrested by the secret service, then jumps to Bush's simultaneous press conference, then to what a couple of other characters where doing at that moment, and eventaully comes back to how the run-in with the secret service went.

They are all real characters, and despite the novelistic touch, what they did and said is what actually happened: except that sometimes the inner workings of Bush's mind is clearly speculation. Here it is relatively sympathetic: although gently negative, it is not negative enough to consist of the usual diatribe (not even a well-deserved diatribe), but negative enough that I'm sure it could infuriate a touchy true neo-con. His intelligence sources have plenty of new information about the inner workings of the Bush and Cheney war cabinet, and their relationship with the intelligence community and foreign states, which gives the story some extra interest.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Towards a better future? 18 Aug 2008
Unlike many of the other essential books on the post 9/11 world, this one does not leave you entirely stranded in the countries of outrage and despair. This offers a a more heartening path through the consequences of policies that do rightly arouse outrage. Suskind relates the experiences of a number of representative people ranging from U.S. intelligence operatives to a young Afghan student in the U.S. to a lawyer trying to represent a Guantanamo Bay inmate. He creates a compelling picture of how different people are coping with the aftermath of the Bush/Cheney/Blair policies that have so damaged the world. By focussing on the particulars he shows how many people out there are representing the universal human desire to make things better for themselves and others. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of the World 7 Feb 2012
By P.Askew
I found this a brilliant read which left me rather uncomfortable realising what lying, scheming and how downright dishonest most politicians and the upper echelon of most governments tend to be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Contending versions of intelligence 29 Sep 2011
Suskind seems to wander the globe, seeing the war on terror from all sides. Most of his characters are extra-smart, extra-connected, or extra-powerful, but they represent the world quite well. All of them are complicated, multi-sided individuals, even the Islamic fundamentalists and the Bush administration officials. It's a study in human response to danger, and the options people choose.

In some of these well-drawn stories, people seek safety by keeping secrets from the enemy, in hope of winning a contest for predominance. In others, they bet on relating to outsiders person to person and building an open relationship. I think the best parts of the book are about Pakistani people caught in the crossfire, choosing what to bet on for their future. But whether in Pakistan, America, England or Afghanistan, Suskind shows two kinds of intelligence in contention. I think his stories indicate which kind is smarter.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  78 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Partisanship Versus Honest Brokering 19 Dec 2008
By John E. Norman - Published on
When I started reading _The Way Of The World_, I was hoping that I would be able to give it a five-star review. Unfortunately, I cannot. The book is poorly edited and poorly proofread. There is a distressing number of glaring errors of spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Also, Suskind's writing style is leaden and preachy at times. He gives long, detailed descriptions of conversations in which people aren't talking about much of anything. The book is structured in a way that makes you feel like you are reading five or six long magazine articles simultaneously. First, you have a page about the exchange student from Afghanistan. Then, a page about the innocent man who was arrested just because police thought he looked suspicious. Then a page about the innocent man being detained at Guantanamo, and his lawyer. Then, a page about the anti-terrorism expert. Then, another page about the exchange student. Then, another page about the Pakistani who was walking near the White House wearing a backpack. Another page about the suffering man in Guantanamo. Suskind keeps jumping around like this, giving a fragment of one story, then a fragment of another, then another. Reading a book that is written this way can get tedious after a while. I think it would have been better if Suskind had simply told each story from start to finish without interruption, and given each story a separate chapter.

Even more serious is the question of whether Suskind has been careful to check his facts. For example, on page 119, he says that Donald Rumsfeld resigned as Defense Secretary in mid-December of 2006. Rumsfeld resigned on November 8th. It makes you wonder. If Suskind couldn't get it right when talking about such a well-known and easily checkable fact, how can we be sure he got his other facts right?

So now I've told you the things that I didn't like about this book. These are the reasons why I couldn't give it a five-star review. Happily, the book's good qualities outweigh its bad ones. First, the book does contain some very good writing. Suskind has a talent for parallels. The best example of this occurs early in the book, when President George W. Bush is making a speech about the great American values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights at the very same moment that a law-abiding, America-loving Pakistani man is having his rights violated by Washington DC police. Suskind alternates between the two scenes, the president's rhetoric, trying to sound like Lincoln or Churchill, and the police's actions, suggestive of a dictatorship, less than a mile away at the same time. This is probably the best example of pure good writing in the book.

There are other good qualities as well. This book has probably the best explanation we will ever get about the 16 word scandal. (The president's January 28th, 2003 State of the Union address included these words: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." In fact, the British government had never learned any such thing. In February, Colin Powell gave his presentation to the United Nations. In March, the war was launched. In May, the president gave his "Mission Accomplished" speech. In July, the White House admitted that those 16 words should not have been included in the president's speech.)

Of course, the book's biggest bombshell, and the main reason why people will want to read it and recommend it, is the revelation that CIA director George Tenet quietly carried out a White House order to plant a false story in the media for the purpose of influencing public opinion. If Suskind is correct about this, then important laws were broken, and serious crimes were committed. Tenet should have notified the Senate Intelligence Committee that the White House was ordering him to commit a crime. Instead, he just did what he was told. Those of you who don't have time to read the whole book, and just want to go straight to "the good part," will find it on pages 361-380. I very strongly hope that Barack Obama will find time to read those 20 pages, at least (if not the whole book) before he takes office on January 20th.

In closing, I would like to point out that Suskind's favorite theme, woven throughout most of his writing, is of the conflict between "partisanship" on the one hand, and "honest brokering" on the other. In writing this review, I have made a sincere effort to be an honest broker.
215 of 277 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book 5 Aug 2008
By Susanna Hutcheson - Published on
What amazes me about all of these tell-all books about the Bush white house is the fact that Bush demands, and seems to have gotten to a large degree, a good deal of loyalty. But in this new book, it seems everyone (or many) are anxious to talk.

It's interesting that the author tells much of the story in the present tense. Curious indeed.

Ron Suskind writes in this book that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.

The White House denies all of this. Of course, one can expect this. But I find the book not well documented. So I had to question some of the assertions.

The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official "that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion." This indeed is old news.

The author goes on to say, "The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001."

He continues, "It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq - thus showing, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice President's Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq. There is no link."

This is a very fascinating book. While the author has been accused of being a "gutter journalist", one wonders if there is truth to this. On the other hand, I didn't feel the author really proved his case. And the book seemed fragmented and not well constructed. Certainly not up to his standards.

Suskind writes that the forgery "operation created by the White House and passed to the CIA seems inconsistent with" a statute saying the CIA may not conduct covert operations "intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies or media." One wonders whose opinion this is. We want facts.

From 1993 to 2000, Mr. Suskind was the senior national affairs writer for the Wall Street Journal. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1995.

This book, with all of it's questionable tactics is still a good chronicle of the Bush administration. Therefore, it's an important work --- regardless of where the reader stands politically.

Highly recommended.

- Susanna K. Hutcheson
170 of 219 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgery is old news--focus on the loss of morality 7 Aug 2008
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on
EDIT of 3 Sep 08 to add CIA published denial and attack, and comment from Association of Former Intelligence Officers, as a comment.

I have reviewed all the books linked to below, and my reviews of those books will add depth to this review.

Ron Suskind's first book on the current Administration, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 was extraordinary for its deep look at Dick Cheney and how since his Ford days, he has always favored unfettered Executive power and has never, in every Continuity of Government exercise, NEVER, given any thought to Congress. He ALWAYS went for an Executive dictatorship that used "war powers" to overturn the Constitution and every single civil liberty. However, the better books on Cheney (25 documented high crimes) and Bush (a tragedy within a farce) are these:

Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
The Bush Tragedy

The media and the other reviewers are placing excessive emphasis on the forgery. This is old news. Vaclav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia, personally said that the White House claims that Iraqi intelligence met Al Qaeda in his country were false. The son in law of Sadaam Hussein who defected asserted, very credibly (and without torture) that the regime kept the cookbooks, destroyed the stocks (Army intelligence tells me they poured so much stuff into the river the future of those downstream is very scary), and were bluffing for regional influence's sake). The fact is that in addition to Cheney's 25 high crimes, there were 935 documented lies told by the White House, and their lack of ethics, integrity, and respect for the Constitution is now beyond repudiation. See for example:

State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq

I continue to be astonished that citizens of the US are not burning tires in the streets and surrounding the White House demanding the immediate exile of Dick Cheney and the appointment of a care taker Vice President, at a time when open source intelligence (OSINT) is telling all of us, and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) that Dick Cheney has promised Israel the US will nuke the Iranians between November 2008 and January 2009.

The core value of this book is NOT in the forgery, which is old news, but in the broad picture it paints of a Republic that has become a Third World dictatorship in which Cheney calls the shots, Congress is complaint (both parties be damned, the Republicans for being collaborators, the Democrats for being doormats), the war loots the individual taxpayer for Halliburton's financial benefit, and brave Americans die for an illegal, immoral war justified by a cadre of liars: Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Feith.

I read a a great deal--an almost fruitless attempt to remain sane in a time of mass insanity--and what I admire most about this author and this book is his broad focus on morality, civil liberties, and the values that differentiate true conservatives who read and value philosophy--and liberals who parrot phrases they do not understand. This is SERIOUS stuff!

In support of this author's "brief" to We the People, who should all be absorbing and then acting upon his message of paradise lost, I can only point to four more books within my Amazon limit, but urge all to look at my lists of books on evaluating Dick Cheney, on the case for impeachment, and on strategy, emerging threats, and anti-Americanism for good reason.

Will and Ariel DurantThe Lessons of History, a capstone volume on their 10-volume History of Civilization, tell us that MORALITY is a strategic asset that is priceless. Ron Suskind is right on target when he points out that it is this aspect--the loss of our national morality--that distinguishes the Bush-Cheney regime. Other Presidents have lied, cheated, and stolen, but this is the first in modern history to combine BOTH global imperialism AND domestic subversion on a scale that makes Richard Nixon look like a novice.

Max Manwaring, contributing editor of The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century, and his distingusihed authors, make the point that LEGITIMACY is the single most priceless asset for any government, for it empowers citizens and enables commerce, innovation, and civil society.

Ambassador Mark Palmer, author of Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025 points out that the US is not respected nor trusted in part because the Bush-Cheney Administration has chosen to be best pals with all but two of the 44 dictators in the world. Rendition, torture, warrantless wiretaping at home (including Guantanamo); deep secret and financial relations--at our expense--with 42 dictators busy looting and terrorizing their publics. Go figure....

Much of what the author has brought together is not new for those of us that continually monitor and agonize over crimes against the Republic, but I have to give him credit for crafting an elegant presentation that makes his book a moving and hence essential wake up call for the Republic. The people are NOT sovereign today, the people are sheep whose civil liberties, freedom of expression, right to bear arms, even their right to assemble, are all under attack.

With my final link, choosing from over 1,000 candidates, I conclude with a strong recommendation for the book Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World. America is a failed state, and it is not just Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson that are saying this, but also true conservatives steeped in thinking and integrity who are aghast at both the crimes of this Administration "in our name," and the two clowns we have running for President, neither of whom can produce a strategy to restore America in the face of the ten high-level threats to humanity, a coherent policy matrix (twelve policies from Agriculture to Water), or a draft balanced budget and notional Cabinet proving they have a clue. They do not.

The USA has become a Third World nation. We let it happen by abdicating our moral and civic responsibilities as citizens of a Republic. Right now, regardless of who "wins" in November, we all lose. THAT is the point of this great book. The Republic is adrift and sinking fast.

Learn how to do public intelligence in the public interest at Earth Intelligence Network. It's time we take back the power.
82 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tribunal Time 6 Aug 2008
By Lee Holt - Published on
When you finish this book you'll really want impeachment, but it's probably too late. Perhaps the world will call for a war tribunal of our boys at the top. My hope is that the military families will finally wake up to their betrayal.

We have all learned that the White House starts a character assination when they can't defend their handywork. It has already begun for
Suskind who is no hawk. As a pulitizer prize winning journalist he knew to get the interviews in the book on tape.

I doubt that Suskind is going to get rattled at the garbage from the Washington thug group, but the guys that gave the interviews will probably be strong-armed into denial to save their jobs even though its all on tape. The White House always assumes we are all as dumb as dirt and will believe all their fiction regardless of facts in books.

GREAT read that will probably be trashed by our wonderful so-called media with the propaganda talking point handed to them. Isn't it still illegal for the government to have a political propaganda machine? Read this book. Pass it on. Read, read, read, and watch PBS.

How did we get into this mess? Oh yeah, with the help of Money, the corporate owned Media, and the great political war plan to reduce GOOD government to the size of a baby so that could be drowned.
47 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important book, but with a schmaltz gallore 11 Aug 2008
By VMR - Published on
Ron Suskind certainly knows his business: this is an important book, and I'm hoping there will be some congressional investigation on the basis of his revelations. Some of them are new, some not so much. Besides chapter on completely fake info on Iraq and refusal to accept information from Iraqi's chief spy, there is a great 'cloak-and-dagger' story about Benazir Bhutto. It is hard to read this and not feel evil of having a clueless president and really psychopathic vice president. This is certainly one more of the 'must reads' for an informed citizen.
But I gave it three stars for the amount of schmaltz and choppy composition. There are a few sugar-comma inducing descriptions, particularly one about anniversary of 9/11 in NYC. Choppy storyline makes for a slightly annoying read. I'm still faintly puzzled to the usefulness of the stories about two young Muslim men, who feature prominently in the book. Both stories are certainly compelling, but their connection to the main storyline is, at best, tenuous.
Regardless, this is a must read book. By now, most of the public which has been paying attention, understands fairly well what has been going on in the last 7 1/2 years. This book peels off few more layers of the lie we have all been living in.
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