From the former secretary of defense, a strikingly candid, vivid account of serving Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Robert M. Gates received a call from the White House, he thought he'd long left Washington politics behind: After working for six presidents in both the CIA and the National Security Council, he was happily serving as president of Texas A&M University. But when he was asked to help a nation mired in two wars and to aid the troops doing the fighting, he answered what he felt was the call of duty.
©2014 Robert M. Gates (P)2014 Random House Audio
Yep! I said it! At least that’s sort of how I read it. A parallel between a baseball player in the steroid era and the US Secretary of Defense? Let me explain.
Don’t get me wrong, this was an excellent book! From cover to cover, the book had my ear, and will enlighten the reader on what really happens behind closed doors of the White House, Pentagon, and The Central Intelligence Agency. When “Juiced”, written by Jose’ Conseco came out reviewers ripped the content and cried foul on Conseco for telling a tale that certainly couldn’t be true. And he was chastised for spilling the dirt and telling his side of what was going on in the Major Leagues when he was playing. He was cast out as a liar and then…It all seemed to be true!
Not to say that Gates rips into the US Government and tells nasty detailed stories of the Presidents he served under and the cabinets he worked with, but he does state his side of 30+ years serving our Government and I’ve heard and read a few comments and reviews about his views in the book by the media asking “Why would he say such a thing about Hillary Clinton?”, or “Why does he paint Obama or Biden in such a dim light?" The fact of the matter is these people see what you and I don’t and this book does an excellent job in conveying that reality. Do yourself a favor and watch the documentary “The Fog of War” highlighting the service of McCarthy before, during, and following the Cuban Missile crisis, and the Vietnam Conflict. McCarthy was called a war monger and yet, he makes it clear in that film that “You didn’t know what I knew!” I assume the same for “Duty”
Gates gives a clear account of how he came to the office he served and the events that shaped both his legacy and those of Bush and Obama. He dishes on what his opinions of our military leaders and he doesn’t hold back on comments made by other key political figures. He gives his account of what happened and what the media actually reports. And he provides insight into his long, long days serving our military and the decisions, back-lashes, leaks and outcomes of many of the events from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that (may have) been portrayed differently in newsprint.
There was also plenty of pomp and bravado though sincere to a degree. After all, they are his thoughts and his ever-stated commitment to US troops does seem at times to be re-iterated as an agenda rather than genuine. Maybe not. This book is justifiably a topic of discussion at political roundtables and well worth the 25+ hours it will take to listen and confirm.
Informative, Interesting and believable; Mr. Gates' perspective makes it clear where he agreed, disagreed and made a decision to move forward. I found his interaction with Condi Rice to be of interest as it highlights their perspectives behind the scenes. This is a good read or listen... enjoy!
I would and I have - I think Bob did what he thought was best for his country in his service to it. That's why I'd recommend this book. I think he does a good job explaining why his decision making process and displays a realpolitik that's admirable.
I'd have to say it was Bob's thoughts on Putin. Spot on don't you think?
Bob himself at the beginning has a nasally voice that really surprised me
Worth listening to
I am a young-executive with a voracious appetite for great stories. I read and listen constantly, and am very proud of my book collection.
This fly on the wall perspective of the career of Robert M. Gates is excellent in its presentation and important in the honest analysis of the current state of affairs of the United States military. This book is guaranteed to open your eyes to many misconceptions about the office of the Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates, and the status of the United States in the world.
Anyone who doubts the quality and commitment of America's leaders need only read this book. My biggest regret is that Mr. Gates has left the post!
This is not a political review! This is a review of a man who sincerely loves his county!
It reinforced my feelings over political appointees being dangerous to the men and women that are professionals of the highest order giving up their life's, all because "Gates" knew better than the officers of our Armed Forces.
He has served tis country honorable, so I will not question that fact, but he continually fluffed himself up. He handed out tax dollars to thugs posing as they were part of the collateral crowd. Dick Marcenko, the man that basically formed Seal Team Six spent money to get needed equipment for his men in the 70s, did jail time for that, and who go's to jail for walking around with millions of dollars passivizing the civilians.
It moved me, but the move was that Gates was disingenuous when it came to his take on the grunt on the ground. When he repeatedly reinforced his feelings that Generals needed fired, I wondered out loud, what gave him the impression he knew more than those Generals?
One day, we will enter a war in which the actual professionals (Military) will run the war and set the rules of engagement. This book over and over, shows the cost of politicians interfering with the art of war. Gates surely is smart, but he always has been someone that needed stroked
He was over concerned over collateral damage, thus making our pilots and the grunts to take unneeded risks to hold collateral to the minimum. The piece in the book where we made payments to so called civilians, for collateral damage made me ill, and especially so, wit no investigations involved.
I liked Secretary Gates's description of internal deliberations with the Bush and Obama Administrations. However, he was very reserved about his assessments of the various Generals and Admirals with whom he worked. It sounded scripted. He is candid about his assessments of Harry Ried and Joe Biden. There wasn't much on overall US military strategy worldwide. I appreciate that Secretary Gates cares about US troops but he didn't need to say it thirty or more times.
This is my first book by Robert Gates.
The narration was very good but a little stilted. The interview between the producer and Gates really sounded scripted. The questions posed were easy ones. I did not get much from that interview that wasn't in the book.
I don't think this would be a good movie or TV series. It is a personal memoir.
I am glad I listened to it but wish Gates had edited his work more. I was also glad when it was over.
No. Extremely long endless hours of Gates, a milquetoast Sec of Defense and public servant at best, patting himself on the back for just doing the things that make up the job. At best he was a "yes man", who never rocked the boat or displayed any real leadership.
Newborn does the best that might be expected given the material he had to work with.
No. No stars, and if made into a movie, a snoozer.
Nearly 1200 titles.
Good book given more character because it is read by the author. Gates passion comes through not just in the words but in the pitch, tone and speed with which he reads certain passages. I'm not always a fan of authors reading their own works, but this one works. Well done.
Duty is important for three reasons. First it presents a very reliable perspective on how things really work in Washington, DC from the point of view of a very senior cabinet secretary. Gates understands the federal bureaucracy, the way Congress operates, and, most importantly, the way Presidents engage with issues. Short answer: the bureaucracy tries to do its best and often fails, Congress is made up of too many grandstanding blowhards, and you can't trust Presidents to do what they promise because of the great number of pressures on them.
Second, he compares the styles of our two most recent Presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama with insights gained from having worked with several previous Presidents. I don't worry about his apparent preference for the former, but rather Gates applies his excellent analytical insights to the comparison and concludes that Bush's more down to earth approach permitted a more functional Executive Office than Obama's greater detachment. Gates really doesn't like the way Obama's senior staff tried to micromanage in the absence of hands-on Presidential involvement.
Third, the reader gets a very smart man's observations on the major international conflicts of the beginning of the 21st century. Historians will find his stories to contain valuable nuggets of information that help explain why the US did what it did, and often why the US failed to do what it tried or ignored. For those who are attentive to the day-to-day headlines coming out of Washington, Baghdad and Kabul, the book is full of "Oh, that's why that happened" moments.
You don't have to agree with Gates's positions on the issues to benefit substantially from reading this well-written, well-produced audio book.
Should the authors personality be discernable in his memoirs? One would think so. This book offers no insight whatsoever into Secretary Gates' thinking during one of our nation's most damaging foreign policy debacles. This book is robotic, bland and frustratingly boring.
Nothing to see here. Move along.
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