Dominic Sandbrook

Class of 1979

Angler: The Shadow Presidency of Dick Cheney

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 483pp £25 order from our bookshop

In 1979, Lynne Cheney, the wife of the present American vice president, published a novel, Executive Privilege. It was no jewel of fine writing, but merely another entry in a popular genre of the day, the presidential-conspiracy-thriller bonkbuster. (Even Spiro Agnew got in on the act with his own literary masterpiece, The Canfield Decision, now sadly forgotten.) Her story tells of a new president from the western state of Montana, brisk and determined, dedicated to regime change abroad in the interests of his native land. Zern Jenner is a modest and understated man, a workaholic whose guiding principles are ‘tenacity and self-control’. He stands tall against his enemies in the press, the Senate and the environmentalist movement; he insists on confidentiality, executive privilege and ‘martial law tribunals’ for terrorists. And when a group of Indian activists claim their rights over coal-rich territory in Wyoming, Jenner contemptuously brushes them aside. ‘This country’, he says, ‘needs that coal.’

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