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It Was All a Lie
Cover of It Was All a Lie
It Was All a Lie
How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump
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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER"In his bare-knuckles account, Stevens confesses to the reader that the entire apparatus of his Republican Party is built on a pack of lies... This reckoning...
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER"In his bare-knuckles account, Stevens confesses to the reader that the entire apparatus of his Republican Party is built on a pack of lies... This reckoning...
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Description-

  • AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    "In his bare-knuckles account, Stevens confesses to the reader that the entire apparatus of his Republican Party is built on a pack of lies... This reckoning inspired Stevens to publish this blistering, tell-all history... Although this book will be a hard read for any committed conservatives, they would do well to ponder it."
    —Julian E. Zelizer, The New York Times

    From the most successful Republican political operative of his generation, a searing, unflinching, and deeply personal exposé of how his party became what it is today


    Stuart Stevens spent decades electing Republicans at every level, from presidents to senators to local officials. He knows the GOP as intimately as anyone in America, and in this new book he offers a devastating portrait of a party that has lost its moral and political compass.

    This is not a book about how Donald J. Trump hijacked the Republican Party...

Excerpts-

  • From the book 1
     
    Race, The Original Republican Sin
     
    You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff.
    —Lee Atwater, 1981
     
    I played the race card in my very first race.

    It was 1978 and my first client was running for Congress in Mississippi. His name was Jon Hinson. He had been chief of staff to a Mississippi congressman named Thad Cochran, who was now running for the Senate. (Actually, back then they called the head staffers “administrative assistants,” or AAs, but as government became more about positioning for that next job and less about service, that sounded too much like “secretaries,” so the more elevated “chief of staff” became common. What lobbying shop wants to pay $500,000 for a former AA?) In high school I had been a page when Hinson ran the congressional office, and I’d kept in touch when visiting the office on trips to D.C.
     
    Hinson was running against the son of Senator John Stennis, a Mississippi icon of the Democratic Party. The son, John Hampton Stennis, was a state representative, and it was assumed he would win easily. I was in film school then at UCLA, and Hinson called and asked if I could make television commercials for his campaign. I told him I didn’t know how to make commercials, that I just made silly little films and wrote scripts I couldn’t sell. “That doesn’t matter,” he said. “You have to do it. I can’t afford to pay anyone who does this for real.” In retrospect, this might not have been the most compelling pitch. But like anyone who has gone to film school, I was eager to get out and actually do something even vaguely related to film, so I said yes.
     
    I’d been one of those kids who loved politics and campaigns and had walked precincts since the 1967 “William Winter for Governor” campaign in Mississippi. Winter ran against the last avowed segregationist to be elected governor, John Bell Williams, and it was a race full of death threats and drama. Winter lost, but I fell in love with politics and read Teddy White’s Making of the President, 1960 over and over. It seemed a strange and intoxicating world, and when I left film school and started working in the Hinson campaign, I instantly felt at home. There was this sense of doing something that might actually matter. If I came up with the right ad, I might make a little history—or at least that’s what I told myself. It was the tiniest bit of history—a Mississippi congressional seat—but it seemed infinitely more consequential than student films and debating what was the greatest opening camera move in cinema. The only problem was we were losing.
     
    Stennis was a towering figure in Mississippi, and his name on the ballot was the obvious default choice for voters. Hinson was right when he said he couldn’t afford to hire anyone, because no one thought he would win and for good reason. We raised some money, put up a few positive ads, and moved comfortably into second place, which is where we seemed stuck. The problem was that the congressional district, which included a lot of Jackson, Mississippi, and Vicksburg, was around 30 percent African American and, true to form, Hinson was getting less than 10 percent of that vote.
     
    Thad Cochran was facing the same problem in his Senate race. No Republican had been elected statewide in Mississippi since Reconstruction, mostly because there really...

About the Author-

  • STUART STEVENS is the author of seven previous books, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire, and Outside, among other publications. He has written extensively for television shows, including Northern Exposure, Commander in Chief, and K Street. For twenty-five years, he was the lead strategist and media consultant for some of the nation's toughest political campaigns. He attended Colorado College; Pembroke College, Oxford; Middlebury College; and UCLA film school. He is a former fellow of the American Film Institute.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2020
    "Blame me": A one-time Republican operative recounts the transformation of the big-tent GOP into an organ of white nationalism. Stevens has been working in Republican politics for decades. Looking back at the age of 65, he regrets being "focused on winning without regard for the consequences." Whereas a Republican presidential candidate could once expect to win between 30% and 40% of the black vote, that figure tumbled in the years after Barry Goldwater, when, successively, leaders like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan sounded racist dog whistles to get the votes of insecure Southern and rural whites. Stevens himself admits, "I played the race card in my very first race," driving just those white voters into the arms of the GOP by highlighting the fact that an otherwise unknown black man was running as an independent for Congress. Fast-forward to the present, when the party is headed by a man whose values should be anathema to it: Like the man himself, the GOP is "addicted to debt and selling a false image of success." While Stevens does not place all blame on the current president, he avers that "in retrospect, the Clinton presidency adhered to the values espoused for decades by Republicans far more than the Trump years." Ouch! As for the party, Stevens writes that it's nearly impossible to imagine a GOP that adheres to the values of "compassionate conservatism" advanced only two decades ago by George W. Bush or one that will stand up to a resurgent Russia. He closes by predicting that Republicans who have given Trump free rein will one day "look back on this period of their lives with a mixture of shame, sadness, and regret," holding some dim hope for a return to the values of old by virtue of moderate Republican governors and state legislators. An epitaph, of interest to all politics junkies, for a formerly venerable party by a champion-turned-gravedigger.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 23, 2020
    Political consultant Stevens, a strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid, debuts with a searing critique of the current state of the Republican Party. Contending that Donald Trump’s rise calls the GOP’s fundamental integrity into question, Stevens connects Trumpism to the rhetoric and policies of predecessors including Joe McCarthy and Newt Gingrich. In reviewing the party’s “Southern strategy” of appealing to former Democrats aggrieved by the civil rights movement, Stevens admits to playing the race card in his first congressional campaign in 1978, when he promoted a rival candidate in a successful effort to split the black vote between the Democratic incumbent and an African-American challenger. He questions the Republican Party’s commitment to family values, fiscal prudence, and intellectual rigor, successfully illustrating the gap between rhetoric and reality. Stevens, who claims to have amassed “the best win-loss record of anyone in my business,” admits to having been duped by Republican candidates who professed conservative principles but abandoned them in order to “embrac a racist unprepared to be president”—a confessional quality that distinguishes this account from others by center-right figures. Readers hoping that the post-Trump GOP charts a new path will savor this thoughtful exposé.

  • Sean Illing, Vox "Stevens stands out among Trump's conservative critics because of his candor about the deeper rot at the core of the GOP... He offers a grand mea culpa for his own role in paving the way for Trumpism."
  • Benjamin Wofford, Washingtonian "It Was All a Lie is unlike anything published in the Trump era: a photo negative of the genre of self-justifying apparatchiks... He's written a history of the modern GOP from an insider's perspective, as well as something deeply personal."
  • David Corn, Mother Jones "Washington in 2020 often beggars belief: an American President answering a deadly pandemic with ignorance, inflaming racial unrest with racism, stoking violent confrontations while his fearful party stands mute... What if the accounting comes from one of the Republican Party's most accomplished political strategists, an insider provoked by Trump to reconsider his life's work? In fact, it has. Stevens dissects several categories of deception. Though he could not have anticipated it -- the book, completed last September, does not include the words "coronavirus" or "George Floyd"

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