I am an avid eclectic reader.
Robert Gates has a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet History. He served as the head of the CIA , been a member of the National Security Council under eight different white house administration, was a Air Force officer in the Strategic Air Command. He knew the pentagon better than most Defense Secretaries. “Duty” is a typical of the memoir genre, declaring that this is how the writer saw it, warts and all, including his own. Gates offers a catalogue of various meetings based in part on notes that he and his Aids made at the time and a review of some of the official reports. I thought he did a fairly good job of writing about the positive as well as the negative remarks about different people. The media seems to want to pick out only the negative comments. For example, Gates did make numerous negative remarks about Joe Biden but also said he and Biden were in agreement about the use of the military in Libya and that he likes Biden. Gates had only glowing remarks about Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton. What came across clearly in the book was his fury with having to deal with a dysfunctional congress, his frustrations in dealing with the bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and the feelings of lack of understating of protocol, respect and distrust by white house staff who had never served in the military. Gates writes that Obama was very thoughtful and analytical, wanted to hear all points of view but then made up his own mind. The author also said that he admired Obama for making some very difficult decision as President. He writes about his concern about the welfare of the troops and how he felt his concern was interfering with his ability to do his job. A good deal of the book deals with battles over the budget and his fight with the Pentagon to get rid of programs, equipment that they no longer need only to have the congress reinstate them because the program had direct effect on their State. Over all it is an interesting look into the workings of our government. George Newbern did an excellent job narrating the book.
An interesting story of the life of David Petraeus showing how he learned from one assignment and applied the knowledge gained to the next. A good over view of the wars in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. The book also allow an insight into the sacrifice a high ranking officer wife and family must make. Petraeus's wife was the daughter of a famous General so she knew what was expected of her. The book tried to give a favorable view of the war in Afghanistan but I was left with a feeling we should have approached this problem differently, we expected to much from a tribal culture. Paula Broadwell is a person one should keep an eye out for she may become a leader herself. James Lurie did a good job narrating the story. This is a good book to understand the making of a famous General and to get more in-depth insight into current affairs.
Like most people I just had to read this book right away to see what all the fuss was about. It is an interesting story of a man's life as a Navy Seal. He starts as a kid that read a book written by an ex Navy Seal that inspired him to want to be a seal. He fulfilled his goal. The parts of the book that covers the operation to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden was exciting and full of action but did not give much more information than was already available. The narrator Holter Graham did an excellent job with the narration. I am sure the book will continue to be controversial and people will have strong belief's for and against the operation.
This was, from start to finish, one of the most engaging audio books I've listened to. Mayer covers the Bush administration from the eve of 9/11 until the end of its tenure with a focus on its manipulation of the law for political ends, especially as it related to executive power and the right to redefine how captured enemy combatants are treated. Far from being a critique of President Bush himself, she underlines his willingness to acquiesce to Cheney and his legal counsel, David Addington, in all matters regarding the treatment of prisoners and the methods by which intelligence was being extracted from them. It is a damning indictment of the unelected bureaucrats who cared more for their own peculiar and idiosyncratic dogmas than for the constitution of the United States, the separation of powers, or the will of the American people.
My only caution is - don't listen to it while you're trying to fall asleep; it will make you so angry, you won't get any.