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
True American hero and servant. I wish all citizens who served would do so with such honor, compassion, non-partisanship, and selflessness.
realistic, perceptive non-bureaucrat
no, it took some time to ponder and digest all the information
An excellent view of the issues and objectives of the people at the highest level of DOD and the government and the obstructions and limitations on being able to accomplish their goals. This included many insights on people at the highest levels. The story dramatically increased my respect for Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates.
Although this isn't the kind of audiobook I usually listen to, I deinitely recommend this one to anyone who wants a better idea of the actual personalities of those still in power today in DC.
Gates certain possessed the experience and similar path as George HW Bush. He ran a War department not a defense department. Very intelligent person and America should be proud to have him as a leader during a very dangerous time. The story is in depth and contains the minutiae needed to make sense
I met him several times while serving on the Joint Staff when he became Secretary. I was impressed at how he treated us (compared to his predecessor) and his insightful questions at what was an initial discussion of a contentious issue. I enjoyed the follow up sessions on the topic and his narrative reflects that same great attitude across national security issues. Highly recommended for anyone in or out of government service.
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.
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