Although Danner’s book does not focus on the current presidential campaign, it speaks to one candidate in particular. By stoking the public’s fear of terrorism, calling for a return to torture, stigmatizing all Muslims here and abroad, and calling for an unfocused, all-out war on the Islamic State, Donald Trump as president would violate America’s core values while feeding the growth of terrorism. Somebody should do him a favor and buy him a copy of this important and indispensible book.
Spiral is a masterly writer’s case for the prosecution, a patriot’s indictment of his own country’s folly ... Danner neglects the other side of the ledger. America is less trapped in the folly of Bush-era policies than he maintains ... Danner’s indictment of these [Obama's] policies is unsparing, but it is sometimes less than clear what he would propose in their stead ... Danner is clearer about what America shouldn’t do than what it should. He shows, with eloquent conviction and considerable evidence, that torture, rendition, domestic surveillance, foreign wars, and democracy promotion at gunpoint have made America more enemies than friends.
Ultimately a polemic, Spiral is at its strongest when taking on the Bush administration’s worst excesses: the unwarranted secrecy and boneheaded assumptions that led to disaster. Danner draws evidence from the rich histories of the era, deftly repurposing the words of former administration officials...Danner constructs a terrifyingly clear picture of the distorted logic of the Bush administration ... he largely overlooks the political realities Obama has faced, including a hostile Congress that has blocked any effort to close Guantanamo. He also pays too little attention to Obama’s attempts to end large military engagements.
...a provocative, and often very effective, book ... That said, it’s somewhat disappointing that Danner’s assessment of the Obama presidency takes up only a little more than half the text. The rest is given over to a rather stale review of Bush’s counterterror efforts...even as Danner presses a compelling case against the 43rd president, there’s a sense that he’s simply rehashing arguments he formulated years ago — preaching to a choir that has long since convicted Bush in the court of public opinion ... [Danner has some] forward-looking ideas, and they’re among the reasons why at its best, Spiral is a timely, valuable book.
Danner sounds the alarm in hectic prose, relying on a somewhat hazy concept of the war on terror as a 'state of exception' normalized by our wartime presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama ... Obama may have banned torture, but Danner is clearly and understandably angry that the president has not advocated punishment for those who ordered [it].