Gellman's book may well be the fullest account we will ever get of its subject. Cheney's papers have been sealed and will remain inaccessible for many years to come, provided that he does not have them shredded or burned, which is altogether possible. It seems equally unlikely that Cheney will write an apologia or a finger-pointing memoir--testament to his discipline, and also to his oddly touching quality of genuine self-negation.
These attributes have made Cheney, seen so long as "the ultimate staffer," one of the most remarkable figures in modern political history and--in the Machiavellian sense--one of the most accomplished. He is an all-around master of the arts of power. His unique force as Bush's "deputy president" is hardly a secret, but still the mind reels at Gellman's summation: "Cheney reshaped national security law, expanded the prerogatives of the executive branch, midwifed the birth of domestic espionage, rewrote the president's tax bill, shifted the course of a river out west, shut down negotiations with North Korea, and had a major role in bringing war to Iraq."