One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A Best Book of the Year: Salon, Slate, The Economist, The Washington Post, Cleveland Plain-Dealer
Jane Mayer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three bestselling and critically acclaimed narrative nonfiction books. She co-authored Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984–1988, with Doyle McManus, and Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, with Jill Abramson, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, for which she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, was named one of The New York Times’s Top 10 Books of the Year and won the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Goldsmith Book Prize, the Edward Weintal Prize, the Ridenhour Prize, the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. It was also a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. For her reporting at The New Yorker,Mayer has been awarded the John Chancellor Award, the George Polk Award, the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, and the I. F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence presented by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard. Mayer lives in Washington, D.C.
Mining public opinion data and nearly 1500 presidential speeches over a four year period, the book argues that presidential framing of threats and losses, not gains, contributed to public support for war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq, and President Bush's successful reelection campaign. President Bush's initial framing of the terrorist threat was introduced immediately after the September 11th attacks and reinforced throughout the Afghanistan invasion. During this time period, presidential threat framing established the broad parameters for the War on Terror and enabled the president to successfully market a punitive war in Afghanistan. Second, the president marketed the strategy of preemptive war and led the country into the more costly war in Iraq by focusing on the potentially global threat of terrorism and the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. President Bush's previous war rhetoric was repackaged into a leaner, more focused format in which the Iraq war became part of the War on Terror, resulting in increased support for the president and a successful reelection campaign. Finally, the author examines the withdraw vs. surge in Iraq debate bringing the book up to date. The book shows the influencing potential of presidential spin and of risky foreign policy in the Middle East, and presents a systematic analysis of how a president effectively pursued a marketing strategy that continues to show an enduring ability to influence public support. Even two years after the Iraq invasion, 52% of Americans believed that the U.S. should stay in Iraq until it is stabilized. This finding bypasses agenda setting explanations, which prescribes issue salience amongst the public for only one year. The large speech database available with the study will also be an added benefit to scholars seeking to teach undergraduate and graduate level qualitative research methods.