"What We've Lost"
(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie OCT 10, 2004)
Editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, has written some excellent columns and letters for his magazine over the years, and for some time now has been expressing his concern with where the Bush administration has been leading America. In What We've Lost, Mr. Carter consolidates his grievances against the Bush administration - documenting the ways, he believes, the present government has weakened our democratic process. Listed, and the book is long on lists, are the names, dates, numbers and details of American losses due to President Bush and his colleagues' zeal to further their political agenda.
Carter cites national and international policy failures as a result of President Bush's first term in office: the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent, seemingly never-ending war; personal rights; woman's rights; the economy; the environment; the accumulation of a huge deficit, including pork barrel spending; jobs; the respect of old allies and the international community, etc., etc. The author claims that it would be difficult "to point to a single element of American society that comes under federal jurisdiction that is not worse off now than it was an administration ago, from civil liberties to the economy, foreign affairs to the environment." All that is alleged is documented here with facts and anecdotes. Each chapter opens with a statement by the President in "Bushspeak," i.e., "I'm the commander - see, I don't need to explain - I don't need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation" - George W Bush, (August 2002); and "It's clearly a budget. Its got lots of numbers in it." It all boggles the mind!
The author apparently researched thousands of reports and documents for his book - one of the many "Bush Bashers" to be published this year. Although those in G. W.'s administration surely have explanations and rationales about how all that is cited as major losses are really "wins," Mr Carter wonders if the President really believes his own spinners' spin. For example, he questions how Bush can institute a tax system that clearly benefits a minute percentage of extremely wealthy people and does so little for the middle class.
This is obviously not a work by a political pundit, but it is an impassioned argument by a fellow American citizen against reelecting the President to a second term of office.
Although this is not my favorite political book of the year, I did enjoy it, (if "enjoy" can be employed here), and found it to be quite informative and disturbing. I think folks should peruse this at their local bookstores, if they don't want to purchase it. One should be as fully informed as possible before the November elections.
- Amazon readers rating: from 13 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from What We've Lost at Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- What We've Lost: How the Bush Administration has curtailed our freedoms, mortgaged our economy, ravaged our environment, and damaged our standing in the world (September 2004)
- Oscar Night: 75 Years of Hollywood Parties (October 2004)
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- Media Bistro interview with Craydon Carter
- The Age article on Graydon Carter
- BuzzFlash.com interview with Graydon Carter
- Curled Up review of What We've Lost
- Good Reports review of What We've Lost
- BookSlut review of What We've Lost
- WashingtonPost.com review of What We've Lost
- Guardian Unlimited review of What We've Lost
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About the Author:
Graydon Carter was born in Toronto, Canada, but is "American by choice." He has been the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair since 1992. He has won six National Magazine Awards, including two for general excellence for magazines with circulation of more than one million, the highest honor in journalism. Mr. Carter has been named Advertising Age's editor of the year and is the first editor ever to be named Adweek magazine’s editor of the year twice. In 1999, the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism ranked Vanity Fair the top monthly magazine in America. Prior to joining Vanity Fair, Mr. Carter was the editor of The New York Observer, which he completely revamped into the paper it is today. He came to The New York Observer from Spy, which he co-founded in 1986. During Mr. Carter’s five-year tenure as co-editor, Spy’s circulation increased sixfold and the magazine was nominated for two National Magazine Awards. Mr. Carter worked as a staff writer for Time, where he covered business, law, and entertainment for five years before joining Life as a staff writer in 1983.
He was an executive producer of 9/11, the highly acclaimed film by Jules and Gedeon Naudet about the World Trade Center attacks, which aired on CBS. Mr. Carter received an Emmy Award for 9/11 as well as a Peabody Award. He also produced the acclaimed documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, about the legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans, which premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, and opened in theaters in July 2002.
Mr. Carter resides in Manhattan. He has four children.