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Bush at War Paperback – Jul 1 2003
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Bush at War focuses on the three months following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, during which the U.S. prepared for war in Afghanistan, took steps toward a preemptive strike against Iraq, intensified homeland defense, and began a well-funded CIA covert war against terrorism around the world. The narrative is classic Woodward: using his inside access to the major players, he offers a nearly day-by-day account of the decision-making processes and power battles behind the headlines. Woodward's information is based on tape-recorded interviews of over a hundred sources (some unnamed), including four hours of exclusive interviews with the president, along with notes from cabinet meetings and access to some classified reports.
Woodward's analysis of President Bush's leadership style is especially fascinating. A self-described "gut player" who relies heavily on instinct, Bush comes across as a man of action continually pressing his cabinet for concrete results. The revelation that the president developed and publicly stated the so-called Bush Doctrine--the policy that the U.S. would not only go after terrorists everywhere but also those governments or groups which harbor them--without first consulting Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is particularly telling. Other principals are examined with equal scrutiny. Though National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice emerges as soft-spoken and even tentative during group meetings, it becomes clear that Bush is dependent on her for candid advice as well as for conveying his thoughts to his cabinet. The relationship between Powell and Rumsfeld (and to a lesser degree Powell and Cheney) is often strained, exposing their differences regarding how to deal with Iraq and whether coalition building or unilateralism is most appropriate. Woodward also describes how CIA director George Tenet prepared a paramilitary team to infiltrate Afghanistan to set the groundwork for invasion, and how this ushered in a new era of cooperation between the defense department and the CIA. A worthwhile and often enlightening read, this is a revealing and informative first draft of the Bush legacy. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Quoting liberally from transcripts of National Security Council meetings and hundreds of interviews with those in the presidential inner circle, including four hours of interviews with Bush himself, the Washington Post assistant managing editor, best-selling author and Watergate muckraker manages to provide a nonpartisan account of the first 100 days of the post September 11 war on terror. While Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, President Bush and CIA Director George Tenet are impressive, Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz come off as hawkish and reactionary, repeatedly calling for a strike against Iraq in the first days of the conflict while pushing for a more widespread, global war. Woodward does an excellent job of exposing the seat-of-their-pants planning sessions conducted at the highest levels of power and the hectic diplomacy practiced by Powell and Bush in trying to get the air war against Afghanistan off the ground. He also brings to light the divisions among the planners concerning the bombing in Afghanistan, which made little impact until late in the game, when the Taliban lines were finally hit. In addition to recounting the heated arguments about when and how to retaliate against Al Qaeda, Woodward also follows Special Ops agents flown into Afghanistan with millions in payoff money weeks in advance of any other American presence. Living in harsh conditions with little to no support, these "110 CIA officers and 316 Special Forces personnel," in this account, ran the show, and effectively won the war with their intelligence gathering operations. While at times relying a bit too heavily on transcribed conversations, Woodward nonetheless offers one of the first truly insightful and informative accounts of the decision making process in the war on terror. 16 pages of b&w photos.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
It doesn't surprise me in the least that Woodward was given full access to the Whitehouse, since this book offers little beyond the unsubstantive "rah-rah" pro-Bush cheerleading that the mainstream media has been engaging in since Bush took office (Ari Fleisher and his minions in the Whitehouse Press office could have written this book themselves!). Although Woodward is certainly a talented writer, this book is little more than pro-Bush P.R. and spin. Uncritical fans of George W. Bush will love this little "novel"; others may want to look elswhere for a more substantive and realistic glimpse into the methods and motivations of the current president (I recommend Molly Ivin's SHRUB -- a book that every truly patriotic American ought to read).
Most of Woodward's book is derived from interviews with President Bush, and all of them appear in Bush's favor. I understand Woodward is a journalist, and journalists, by nature, should strive to be objective. However, objectivity is a hard front to maintain when hundreds of U.S. soldiers are dying face-down in the sand overseas. I wanted more critical analysis on Woodward's part - I wanted his opinion. Perhaps I should've gone for a more liberal-leaning book instead of reading this trite from a seasoned journalist who made his name in the 1970's and hasn't quite lived up to the potential he acquired back then.
I have not read Woodward's newest book, which is supposed to be a wee bit more critical of the Bush administration. Nor do I really care to. In this new freedom of information age, and many aspiring journalists and documentarians digging up dirt nobody thought possible before, it's unrealistic to support an old codger who has made his name as being "the White House journalist."
Not surprisingly given the sources, on the surface the Administration comes accross as decisive, well meaning, and even heroic. This is not a "leak" book, as you might bet from Seymour Hirsch; this is a book which presaents the Administration as it would want to present itself to the world.
That said, the picture painted by the Administration--as reported (and presumably filtered) by Woodward, is profoundly disturbing. The U.S. has, after all, the most powerful military in the world. We can, more or less single handedly, defeat any realistic combination of other countries in the world. To control such a powerful military force, the Constitution establishes a series of checks and balances; including most importantly rigid control of the uniformed armed services by civilians--and penultimately by the President and the Secretary of Defense.
Woodward's most important contribution is to demonstrate how these constraints were simply ignored, circumvented, and outright undermined during the lead up to Afghanistan. Rumsfield had no control over the uniformed forces. Either he had no idea what the real capabilities were, he was lied to, he lied to the President, or--worst of all--his orders (and those of the President) were simply ignored by the military.
There is no decision making process in the White House.Read more ›
For starters, how about George W. Bush, shown here to be (pick several or all of the following): firm, resolute, tough, courageous, compassionate, concerned (with humanitarian issues in Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iraq, for instance), engaged, secure enough to surround himself with strong people, and even possessing that elusive trait in the Bush family -- the "vision thing," as his father called it. Wow, this guy could be the next Abraham Lincoln if he's even half this good!
But don't reserve the space on Mount Rushmore quite yet. How do we know any, or even most, of this book is true? Well, we don't. In fact, all we've really got is our trust -- or lack thereof -- in Bob Woodward. We certainly don't have any footnotes, critical voices, or even any analysis to speak of. And that's where things start falling apart. In a book like this, at least for those of us not favorably inclined towards George W. Bush, we need more than blind faith in a reporter. All that does is raise our suspicions even further. And Bob Woodward just doesn't give us what we need.
Speaking of the author, why did the White House choose Bob Woodward, of all people, to produce this "Profiles in Courage" piece?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Lacks the normal informed zip of a typical Woodward book which is a shame, that said it is still a good read.Published on April 1 2013 by Anthony Taylor
It will take years for historians -- the real guardians of truth -- to have the perspective for an honest recounting of this particular story. Read morePublished on July 13 2004
I was surprised when a friend of mine suggested this book to me, because he is very conservative and my impression was that this book was just another anti-bush rant. Read morePublished on June 16 2004
I was very excited to start this book but I must say that after a while it got a bit boring. Another NSC meeting, another disagreement between the principals ! Read morePublished on June 10 2004 by Thys Daniel
"In 20 years, George W. Bush may be considered one of our greatest Presidents," author Bob Woodward told a book-signing audience in Thousand Oaks, California in May of... Read morePublished on June 8 2004 by Steven R. Travers
Woodward is an international media legend. The cause of his world renown was, of course, unearthing the Watergate scandal, leading to the eventual resignation of a president. Read morePublished on May 11 2004 by C. Middleton
What's the ugliest part of your body?
Some say your nose,
Some say your toes,
But I think it's your mind... your MIND...
George, you're beast!
The book mainly focuses on the drama of 9/11 to the current war in Iraq. The start of the book describes the shocking 9/11 in depth, the way in which Woodward lays it out is very... Read morePublished on May 6 2004 by Tom Chase
"Bush at War" invites comparison with "Against All Enemies". These books could not lead the reader into more starkly contrasting conclusions about the capacity... Read morePublished on May 3 2004 by Jon R. Schlueter
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