John Frohnmayer prefaces his new and surprisingly vengeful memoirs by telling the story of how he was fired as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts by Samuel Skinner, President Bush’s chief of staff, on February 20, 1992. In true Frohnmayerian style, he puts it this way: “Skinner . . . canned my ass.” But the book proper begins with a more idyllic story. It was three years earlier, on a lovely Sunday afternoon in February 1989, that Mr. Frohnmayer, a partner in a successful Oregon law firm, decided to become an active candidate for the chairmanship of the NEA, a post just made vacant by the departure of the then chairman, Frank Hodsoll, for presumably greener pastures at the Office of Management and Budget. True to the prevailing ethos of the Bush administration, Mr. Frohnmayer’s decision was made while playing golf with his wife, Leah, at the Waverley Country Club, which, he writes, “lies lush...


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