Book Review: Young Dick Cheney: Great American

April 22, 2008
Temple Stark

Who is a less caring person than Dick Cheney? Think about it a few moments and the names you can come up with live in the annals of political and global horror. They are loved by only the sickest people on the planet. Or academics.

It's hard to think on that too much without becoming melancholy and a touch depressed. That's where Young Dick Cheney: Great American (Alternet Books) comes in. The authors, Bruce Kluger and David Slavin, offer a comprehensive and expansive detailed narrative of Cheney's childhood - in a fictional, mocking way.

Go into this book, expecting to laugh and expecting a simple approach to satire. Thankfully, the only things tortured here are puns and your groan muscles.

Who'da thunk that a person could read about Dick Cheney and enjoy it?

Young Dick Cheney offers a respectful look at the Cheney years from birth to soul death - a span of about 18 years.

Respectful of the truth, naturally, not the man.

This underrated expose on Dick Cheney's Nebraska childhood and formative years offers a keen insight into what branded the current vice-president a real Dick. It wasn't just the Lazy Eight Fork to the rear.

The authors describe their pocket-sized work as an "inspiring and sometimes even true childhood story of Richard B. Cheney, a secretive yet sensitive boy with a shoot-from-the-hip, shoot-in-the-face style all his own."

Best of all there's James Thurber-esque simple illustrations by rather than photos so readers don't get that Gorgon effect of looking into his eyes and having all their emotions irreversibly turn to stone.

Young Dick Cheney does not, however, offer any details on how he received his training as a Sith Lord.


Just in time to laugh, not cry, comes this over-the-top and mercifully short book. It achieves the near impossible by making you feel sorry for the guy - the fake guy in the book, anyway.

Child abuse, neglect, isolation, murder nor prostitution feature in Dick's childhood. No, those all came later in life, during his time in government.

From the book's dedication to the Constitution and the Ativa SX180D shredder, the book offers straightforward fictionalized biography with wickedly clever one liners strung end to end. Phrases and passages cause a variety of reactions from snorting recognition of humor ("The brutal blizzard that beat down on Lincoln the night of Young Dick's birth was somehow different. For one thing it was July.") to moments that bring tears to your eyes and sweat glands.

This passage gives a flavor of the humor, a mixture of subtle and in-your face (oh, sorry) at the same time.

Bundling up Young Dick in the business section from that morning’s newspaper, Jedediah and Mary Todd began the long journey home with their new child - walking down the straw path that led from his stable, then trudging through the deep midsummer snow that carpeted the seven-mile road that led out of town.

The moment the Cheneys stepped through their front door, the proud new parents got back to work. Mary Todd resumed her chores - finishing the wood-splitting she’d started before she went into labor, preparing the family meal, mopping up her amniotic fluid - while Jedediah placed Dick in a hickory crib that he’d carved from scraps of wood he’d found behind Clem Cullen’s casket factory.

As the weary couple dug into a warm supper of possum and root stew, Young Dick lay on his back in his new cradle, staring at the ceiling, his eyes open and unblinking.

Deep within the forests that surrounded the Cheney homestead, wolves howled into the dark night sky.
We get Dick's puppeteering hobby later used to good effect with US Presidents, his tendency to shoot mothers, friends and postman in the face, roustabouts with friends Donny and Scooter, his preference for working away from the spotlight, and his early addiction to oil which manifests itself into a pre-teen ground sniffing career and a desire to lay waste to nature.

And those are just the true parts, obviously.

Here's a final passage illustrating how Dick got his direction and purpose in life:
One sunny spring day when Dick was four years old, he was playing in his front yard with a beach ball. A gift from his parents, the inflatable sphere was painted to resemble the earth, and Young Dick took great delight in making it bounce any way he wanted it to. He also liked kicking it around.

Suddenly, the ball took a wild spin and rolled off in the direction of the driveway, coming to a stop beneath the back wheels of Mr. Cheney’s ’38 Packard.

Crawling beneath the car for the ball, Young Dick was startled by a sudden reflection. Just beneath the tail pipe, the sun illuminated a small, sparkling black puddle, creating the most beautiful rainbow Young Dick had ever seen. He was drawn to it, like a kitten to a dish of really dark milk.

Dick slid on his belly, closer to the inky slick. He smelled it - it was sweet and inviting. He touched it - it was wet and silky. Then he tasted it.

Suddenly the cramped space beneath the Packard seemed to glow, as if lit by the heavens above. Sprawled on his stomach and breathing heavily, Young Dick swore he could hear music - just like the songs of worship he heard every Sunday at St. Agnes’ Weeping Face of Christ Pentecostal Church. A tingle of excitement ran up his short, thick legs.

Tossing aside the earth ball, Young Dick slithered out from under the car and darted inside.

“Pa!” he shouted, bursting into the parlor and thrusting his hand beneath his father’s face. “I found this under your car! What is it?”

Jedediah took a long look at his son’s moist black finger, then smiled.

“Why, that’s oil, son,” he said. “You know: Black gold. Texas tea.”

Young Dick looked confused.

“It’s what makes cars run,” he continued patiently. “And tractors. And aeroplanes. And machines. It’s found underground, all over the earth. And people pay millions of dollars for it.”

That was when Young Dick Cheney had his first heart attack.
It's funny and a stress-leaving read. Some of the jokes are easy but still ridiculously funny. Buy this one, take a bottle, drink it down, and pass it around. It's a quick burst of humor, and with Cheney's popularity as an adult at 15 percent, most everyone you know will enjoy Young Dick ...

Try not to be too depressed by the unhappy ending we've all been witness to.

I will find a way to get to India. I'm not afraid of crowds. I enjoy new, experiences, writing, photography, having opinions on music and getting lost in the moment. I'm the new Chief Copy Editor at What else ya want to know?
eXTReMe Tracker
Keep reading for comments on this article and add some feedback of your own!

Comments! Feedback! Speak and be heard!

Comment on this article or leave feedback for the author

April 23, 2008
05:35 PM


good one

That was when Young Dick Cheney had his first heart attack.

and like a good soldier he vowed to spread it around (heart attacks)

April 23, 2008
06:35 PM

I can't comment on the book since I haven't read it. However I found these comments:

"Delivers a double-barreled
blast of satiric buckshot."
--Arianna Huffington

"A must-have item for spring break!"
--Daily Kos

That was all I needed to see to form an opinion.

Here's a different view from the left:

"This book, which claims to be a satire, is just one long attack on Cheney. Its no surprise that it has been praised by sites like Huffington Post and people like Keith Olbermann. Correct me if I am wrong but aren't satires supposed to be the least bit funny? I read the entire book and didn't laugh once. Now I am not a hard-core Republican, far from it, more a libertarian rogue, but this is just lame.

The authors think its terribly funny to take that one hunting incident and repeat the joke over and over again. Basically Cheney's young friends and teachers keep dying in gun accidents. The book even implies that Cheney's wife is a lesbian. It aims to track him from his use implying he did not have a normal child-hood. Along the way mid-Westerners are tarred as anti-semites (ironic considering some of the content of HuffPo which one of the authors contributes to) and indulge in a game called Chase the Jew.

This book is vile and completely unfunny. Lest I be accused of not laughing because its from a left-wing perspective; I would point out that I used to laugh quite a bit at much of the anti-Thatcher comedy from the UK in the 80s even though I greatly admire her (ex: The Young Ones).

Satire can be harsh and close to the bone if it's funny. This just isn't. If this is left-wing humour in the US these days its a sad state of affairs. Their hatred of anything related to Bush so clouds their minds as to make them unfunny. What a waste. I will say one nice thing; the illustrations are decent..."

I enjoy a good article, joke, or quip at the expense of any political figure, regardless of party affiliation. But there's a difference between political satire and ideologue groupthink.

Ciao Guido

Temple Stark
April 23, 2008
09:39 PM

Guido you lazy ass. You cite the blurbs to say it's enough to form an opinion but you don't actually engage in what I wrote to further that very considered opinion of yours.

I have read it. It's a quick read and worth $12.95US. Most people dislike Cheney. I don't laugh easily and am not easily impressed but I laughed a fair bit at this, just because laughing in the face of true evil - and I don't say that lightly - is a worthy venture.

By the way, why publish someone else's opinion, in such a large way? Andrew's a great guy - creates great music - but he's as partisan as Daily Kos or the Huffington Post so why is his opinion better? He didn't find it funny and I believe him but that doesn't mean a lot of people won't - even those who may like Cheney, and the three people in prison who will admit it.

So get with your own opinion.

I hugely dislike both Daily Kos and Huffington Post by the way, the former more than the latter. The Huff Post is getting big off very little reporting, it's all punditry as if the world needs more of that. Daily Kos because they have collectively become idiots, throwing around charges of racism as if it didn't mean anything.

- Temple

April 23, 2008
09:43 PM


"Here's a different view from the left:"

It would appear not! the long negative review of the book you quote Guido, appears to be from a perspective that takes umbrage at any critique of Bush-Cheyney, as in: (from the review you cite)

""Lest I be accused of not laughing because its from a left-wing perspective....If this is left-wing humour in the US these days its a sad state of affairs. Their hatred of anything related to Bush so clouds their minds as to make them unfunny""

Hardly a review from "the left" whatever that means....he does seem to be allergic to any critique of Bush and Co.

Temple Stark, cannot wait to read this book!

April 23, 2008
09:50 PM

""From the book's dedication to the Constitution and the Ativa SX180D shredder""

Ha ha! a good start, regardless of what follows...can't wait to get my paws on this book (my bias shows!!)

Temple Stark
April 23, 2008
09:53 PM

Aaagh, good point / catch commonsense, Andrew is NOT from the left. I missed that. I repeat, he's a great, engaging guy from England. Lives in America, I believe.

Andrew Ian Dodge
April 24, 2008
03:41 AM

Temple I live in London currently, but that is about to change relatively soon. It looks as if I am heading back to the US.

PS: I am not a Republican either...a libertarian me.

April 24, 2008
05:03 AM


Thanks for the response. Please save the name-calling for someone else. I don't appriciate it. Also, it detracts from your posts and might give people the wrong impression.

Forgive me, but I wasn't trying to be curt toward your review. I can't "engage" your opinions about the book if I haven't read it...nor will I. However, I can make some assumptions based on the endorsements of the websites previously mentioned.

The fact that fringe elements like the Kos or HP endorse it, tells me all I need to know. I have been to both websites and experienced first-hand the abhorrence residing there. Exaggeration? Go to either site and post a dissenting opinion. I did at the Kos. Not only was I venomously attacked with foul and degrading language, but my respectfully written posts were also quickly removed. "POOF"...gone! How's that for free speech and the exchange of ideas? Those sites have absolutely nothing to do with debate; they are ideologue groupthink members-only clubs. Anything they promote or endorse is for the sole purpose of pushing their hate-driven agenda. I won't be part of it. That's why I will not read the book.

I have nothing against liberalism or conservatism; however both can be fascist in their extremes.

You like the book and find it amusing...fine. Personally, I won't waste my time.

Ciao, Guido

April 24, 2008
05:13 AM

CS writes: "...he does seem to be allergic to any critique of Bush and Co."

I'll let the author speak for himself:

"PS: I am not a Republican either...a libertarian me."

Ciao, Guido

April 24, 2008
06:05 AM


True, I indulged in hyperbole. It happens once in a while during such cyber exchanges! Stand corrected. I guess the following sentence, "Their hatred of anything related to Bush so clouds their minds as to make them unfunny" led me to use the term "allergy" to any critique of Bush and Co....and yes, I assume he does not represent "the left". either way, look forward to reading the book

Temple Stark
April 24, 2008
12:18 PM

I left a comment at Andrew's site to being him over here if he wanted, to.

Guido, most people will know that name-calling is pretty low on my want list but every now and then people deserve heaping piles of it.

When someone comes to a post, and then leaves someone else's long opinion, that's strange and lazy. As i pointe dout, I don't respect the people makign the blurbs either and i still quite enjoyed the book. So forming your opinion based on who
s making the blurbs does't really work, though I do understand that's what they're there for. So, if you're that susceptible to marketing and judging a book by its cover, then I agree, this book may not be really be for you.

And then when they mis-characterize that person and that opinion, accidentally or on purpose, well, let's just say stupidity annnoys me. I'll be happy to agree maybe it was a one off here, and not necessarily a pattern since i don't really know.

It IS a funny book. Sure, some of the jokes are easy - as my review says - but it is and will be funny to a great deal of people, even those not on the left if they don't particularly like Cheney. Since polls have repeatedly shown Cheney's popularity below 20 percent I'd have to say there's a large audience out there for mocking Cheney.


Add your comment

(Or ping:

Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy.

Remember Name/URL?

Please preview your comment!