Tuesday, January 13, 2009

With Honor or Censoring Science

With Honor: Melvin Laird in War, Peace, and Politics

Author: Dale Van Atta

In 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War, centrist Congressman Melvin Laird (R-WI) agreed to serve as Richard Nixon's secretary of defense. It was not, Laird knew, a move likely to endear him to the American public—but as he later said, “Nixon couldn’t find anybody else who wanted the damn job.” For the next four years, Laird deftly navigated the morass of the war he had inherited. Lampooned as a “missile head,” but decisive in crafting an exit strategy, he doggedly pursued his program of Vietnamization, initiating the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel and gradually ceding combat responsibilities to South Vietnam. In fighting to bring the troops home faster, pressing for more humane treatment of POWs, and helping to end the draft, Laird employed a powerful blend of disarming Midwestern candor and Washington savvy, as he sought a high moral road bent on Nixon's oft-stated (and politically instrumental) goal of peace with honor.
The first book ever to focus on Laird's legacy, this authorized biography reveals his central and often unrecognized role in managing the crisis of national identity sparked by the Vietnam War—and the challenges, ethical and political, that confronted him along the way. Drawing on exclusive interviews with Laird, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, and numerous others, author Dale Van Atta offers a sympathetic portrait of a man striving for open government in an atmosphere fraught with secrecy. Van Atta illuminates the inner workings of high politics: Laird's behind-the-scenes sparring with Kissinger over policy, his decisions to ignore Nixon's wilder directives, his formative impact on arms control andhealth care, his key role in the selection of Ford for vice president, his frustration with the country's abandonment of Vietnamization, and, in later years, his unheeded warning to Donald Rumsfeld that “it's a helluva lot easier to get into a war than to get out of one.”

Bob Nardini - Library Journal

The two key contenders for influence in the Nixon administration were "the equally matched Laird and Kissinger," writes Van Atta (Trust Betrayed: Inside the AARP). Today, Nixon's first-term secretary of defense, Melvin Laird, is the less familiar of the duo. Wisconsin's Laird entered Congress in 1952 and was instrumental there in the growing federal support for medical research. He took the defense post in 1969 and, according to Van Atta, was more responsible than Nixon or Kissinger for withdrawing U.S. troops through his "Vietnamization" policy. In this authorized biography, Laird also gets credit for ending the draft and, later, for engineering the choice of Gerald Ford for vice president and the appointment of Leon Jaworski as Watergate special prosecutor. Van Atta now works at Reader's Digest, where Laird has been a contributor since leaving politics. The length of this book will deter many readers, and its sunny style will put off some scholars. Still, in placing Laird at the center of the era, Van Atta has made a significant contribution. His research is based on hundreds of interviews with subjects including Kissinger and Laird's friend and political ally the late President Ford, who contributed the foreword. Recommended for larger academic and public libraries and essential for any Wisconsin library.

New interesting book: Making Herbal Dream Pillows or Before She Gets Her Period

Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Surprising Truth About Global Warming

Author: Mark Bowen

From acclaimed writer and physicist Mark Bowen, Censoring Science tells the true story of the Bush administration's censorship of the world's preeminent climatologist, and the science behind global warming that they do not want you to know.

The facts don't lie:
• 2005 was the warmest year since the invention of the thermometer.
• 2006 is on track to become the hottest year ever recorded in the United States.
• The six hottest years on record have occurred in the last eight years, and the twenty-two hottest years on record have occurred in the last twenty-six years.

Preeminent climatologist and leading NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen has been studying climate for over three decades. It was his testimony to a Senate committee in 1988 that first brought the threat of global warming to the world's attention. In January 2006, news broke that the Bush administration had been attempting to censor Dr. Hansen-obscuring his message and suppressing the vast body of his scientific work, which unequivocally demonstrates the reality and immense danger of global warming.

Now, for the first time and with unfiltered access, writer and physicist Mark Bowen finally tells the exclusive story of Hansen's decades-long battle to bring the truth about global warming to light. Censoring Science illuminates the real science behind global warming and maintains that we can still prevent environmental disaster, while both strengthening our economy and our national security. In the tradition of Ron Suskind's blockbuster bestseller, The Price of Loyalty, Censoring Science exposes the truth behind the administration's spin doctors, and shares theinside story of one of the most important and influential scientists of our time.

Jeffrey Beall - Library Journal

Science journalist Bowen (Thin Ice: Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World's Highest Mountains) tells the story of Dr. James Hansen, a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and his suppressed attempts to warn the public about global warming and climate change. Bowen details how NASA's press office, under pressure from the Bush administration, censored or toned down press releases and prevented scientists from speaking to the media. In rambling and digressive detail, the author recounts how a Bush political appointee redacted scientific reports to describe global warming as an unproven theory. This work is partly a biography of Hansen and partly an explanation of climatology, and it shows what goes wrong when science and politics mix. The bleak subject matter-global warming and censorship-makes for depressing reading. Bowen's seemingly endless descriptions of NASA's office politics beg for editing, and his text, which is not organized chronologically, reads as if it were stitched together from shorter pieces. Recommended only for larger research libraries. [For better accounts on the Bush administration's attacks on science, see Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Scienceand Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming.-Ed.]

Kirkus Reviews

An eye-opening account of government efforts to silence the nation's leading climate scientist. Hansen, long-time director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, made headlines in early 2006 when he refused to buckle under government pressure to soft-pedal warnings on the dangerous reality of global warming. In this understated but important book, author and physicist Bowen (Thin Ice: Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World's Highest Mountains, 2005) demonstrates how science news makes its way into the media from deep within the labyrinthine space agency. Since the agency's founding in 1958, reporters have had direct access to NASA scientists. That changed in recent years, writes Bowen, when high-level NASA political appointees began trying to control scientists' conversations with the media, especially about climate science and global warming. Drawing on interviews, e-mails and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Bowen tells a chilling story of deliberate efforts by senior NASA managers, acting in concert with the Bush White House, to play up uncertainties and minimize dangers regarding global warming. Never made in writing, directives were generally issued orally, and in closed-door meetings, to NASA public-affairs officers, who were asked to act against their own principles and obtain approval from appointees before scientists could speak to the media. Hansen spoke out on 60 Minutes, noting government efforts to restrict his statements on 2005 as the warmest year on record. Bowen details the manipulations; shows how conservative NASA press officer GeorgeDeutsch was scapegoated as a rogue trying to control Hansen (while higher-ups declared an open-door media policy); and reveals how the White House "orchestrated" censorship on climate science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and elsewhere. Amid the attack on credible, unbiased science, writes Bowen, Hansen despairs that no real progress is being made on global warming. A must-read not just for environmentalists but for all politically conscientious readers.

Table of Contents:
The Cardinal Rule     1
This Is Coming from the Top     27
A Dirty Little Secret     51
... Because the White House Has a No Surprises Rule     64
Gretchen, Do Not E-mail Me on This     98
A Theory of Government We Must Vociferously Oppose     143
Congratulations for Your "Non Award"     162
The Veil of Venus     191
A Logical, Well-Reasoned Conclusion     221
Me, Too     264
Sources and Suggested Reading     307
Acknowledgments     309
Index     313

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