Is it a tale of horror? Is it a murky psychological thriller? Is it an exploration of an alternate universe? It's all three, and more. The Dark Side by Jane Mayer details the terrible, evil reactions of fearful and powerful men to the terrible, evil actions of fearless and power-seeking men on September 11, 2001. Who are the fearful and powerful men? They are Dick Cheney, his chief of staff David Addington, and Office of Legal Council lawyer John Yoo, among others.
The Dark Side reveals, step by step, the cold, calculated plan of Cheney and his cohorts to 1) restore the executive power of the presidency that they feel was lost after Watergate, and 2) justify and prosecute the war in Iraq as they saw fit, no matter what the cost to American ideals and global relations. Although The Dark Side provides a list of characters at the back of the book, most of the names are ones we hear on television and radio news almost daily.
In fact, much of what is in The Dark Side is currently being reported in the media. The book tells the story of the now-infamous torture memos and of the detainees who gave false information after being tortured. So why read it? It relentlessly presents the case for the intended destruction of our real American values and their replacement with values of cruelty and secrecy. The effect is devastating. The Dark Side is the complete story of a world-changing set of decisions that everyone needs to hear.
Jane Mayer, a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, allows the facts to bring down Cheney and his crew. She describes how Cheney controlled the flow of information to the president and often held secret meetings that went over George W. Bush's head -- both literally and figuratively. She gives voice to detainees and their lawyers and bravely describes the most gruesome details of the torture techniques used in our name.
Perhaps that is why some reviewers have compared the book to the television show "24." But the book is completely unlike the TV series in that it seeks to reveal that rendition, detention, and torture are wrong -- not to glorify them as the solution to our country's problems.
The Dark Side is a movie waiting to be made. As long as the producers of "24" donít get the screen rights, it could be a great movie -- a tale of horror, a murky psychological thriller, an exploration of an alternate universe, and more. We just don't know yet what the ending will be.