All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
- Arthur Schopenhauer
Russ Baker’s massive tome, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces that Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America, is a taxing and multifaceted read that is ultimately gratifying due to its sheer scope and staggering implications.
Baker is an investigative journalist and the founder of the compelling WhoWhatWhy/the Real News Project, a nonpartisan and non-profit investigative news organization. He has written for Vanity Fair, the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Post, and several other publications that many will instantaneously shame depending on personal bias and/or suspicion.
While there would be many individuals to attempt to discredit this book and throw it out as a partisan hack job, ignoring Family of Secrets would be a miscalculation for adherents to either American political philosophy.
Baker is careful, graceful, and agonizingly comprehensive in his narrative of the Bush Dynasty. He traces the history of the family back to where it all began and draws parallels between George H.W. Bush (Poppy Bush) and George W. Bush with smooth lines, presenting his compilation of facts in clear language without partisan drivel.
That is not to say that Baker’s book is merely a set of facts regurgitated on pages in mild text, mind you. The author does reach for some conclusions at times and draws some rather serious implications regarding the links between the Bush Dynasty, the CIA, and the Kennedy Assassination. While Baker never fully plays out a straight indictment, it’s pretty clear as to the direction he intends us to go with his throng of facts.
And his arguments are compelling, as he has conscientiously assembled such an array of facts and statistics from a broad spectrum of sources. Baker appears to lean neither left nor right, offering criticism of JFK a breath away from condemnation of Nixon or the Bushes. Indeed, it seems Baker’s goal is truth.
When references seem a little delicate, Baker is the first to admit it. In telling a funny story about W. and a female companion, the author is watchful to repeat that the reference may not quite be telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Baker begins Family of Secrets by telling us that the story of the Bush Dynasty is “vastly more complicated” than “the conventional wisdom would have it.” His goal is to tell the story behind the story (and perhaps even the story behind that story), piling fact upon fact and infusing the tale with historical context, tonnes of background, and loads of information.
At times, Baker is almost too informative. His inclination to detour to make a point can be tricky, as ostensibly peripheral lines around the complexities of Nixon or the details of the JFK assassination can be a little dry to push through. Eventually, however, the author frames it in context and begins to form his bigger picture again.
Family of Secrets often reads like a tortuous novel, telling tales of Prescott Bush’s unmet political appetite, Poppy Bush’s role in Watergate and his inability to remember where he was when JFK was shot, and Dubya’s juvenile rich kid routine in the National Guard and Iraq War fraud. Baker presents a picture of a family obsessed with concealment, cover-ups, money, and deception that is hard to ignore.
While the Bush Dynasty rushes to paint a coat of golden gloss over Dubya’s “legacy,” this author and this book pushes for the truth, careful examination of the facts, fastidious criticism, and an exploration of one of the most compelling and important political dynasties in American history.
Right, left, centre, or slightly off-kilter, Russ Baker’s Family of Secrets has a story to tell that is continuously mesmerizing and, at times, extraordinarily startling.