"In When Presidents Lie journalist and historian Eric Alterman examines four key lies told by presidents of the postwar period, all of them regarding a crucial question of war and peace. The Yalta conference, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and the Central American wars of the 1980's have turned out to be unhappy turning points in American history, and the misrepresentations made about them to the public would have both domestic and international repercussions for years to come. FDR's refusal to reveal the concessions made to Stalin at Yalta generated a poisonous political reaction that set the stage for forty years of Cold War and the abuses of McCarthyism. John F. Kennedy's cover-up of the deal he and his brother secretly negotiated to end the Cuban Missile Crisis helped pave the way for Vietnam. LBJ's false representations about an attack on U.S. forces in the Gulf of Tonkin poisoned the conduct of the war and destroyed Johnson's dreams of social progress at home. Finally, Ronald Reagan's myriad deceptions regarding U.S. involvement in the Central American wars led to the ignominy of the Iran-Contra scandal and helped set the stage for George W. Bush's "post-truth" presidency." "When Presidents Lie addresses its subject not from a moral perspective, but from a pragmatic one, and discovers that in the end, honesty in government is, in fact, the best policy. Over and over, the short-term political benefits of falsehoods are ultimately undone by their unanticipated consequences, which are nearly always destructive, not only to the nation and the world, but also to the politicians who undertook to mislead in the first place. Alterman's meticulous research is drawn from primary-source materials, both government documents and the media reactions to the unfolding dramas, and demonstrates how, in each case, the lies returned to haunt their tellers, or their successors, destroying the very policy the lie had been intended to support. Without exception, each of the presidents - or in the case of his death, his handpicked successor - paid a high price for his deception. So, too, did the nation to whose leadership he was entrusted."--BOOK JACKET.