Dubose and Bernstein show in this thorough, rollicking career biography that it's Cheney-not the more publicly criticized Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice or President Bush-who is chiefly responsible for the most unpopular aspects of the Bush regime: an imperial executive office and foreign policy; abandonment of democratic ideals (respect for government checks and balances, the Geneva Convention, the Bill of Rights and the Freedom of Information Act); and questionable corporate-government colusion (the secret energy task force, Halliburton's government contracts in Iraq). Tracing Cheney through three White House adminsitrations, six terms in the House of Representatives, and a tour as Halliburton CEO, the portrait that emerges from these pages is both alarming and compelling; like a J.R. Ewing, Cheney proves to be the kind of fascinating figure you love to hate. As obstacles to Cheney's will-Congress, the Constitution, foreign countries, the press, or other politicians-are sidestepped, ignored, or trammeled, Cheney emerges as a classic Machiavellian; in Cheney's case, it appears that the end which justifies the means is power, pure and simple. Against Cheney, idealistic liberals who believe that an appeal to democratic ideals, the Constitution, or basic decency will work with this administration emerge here as painfully naïve; unfortunately, this realization has only settled in after the damage was already done. Dubose and Bernstein present a sobering and darkly flattering expose of the reclusive power behind the throne, and a grim vision of what his legacy may be.