Working behind the scenes for 18 months, Bob Woodward has written the most intimate and sweeping portrait of President Obama making the critical decisions on the Afghanistan War, the secret war in Pakistan, and the worldwide fight against terrorism. Drawing on internal memos, classified documents, meeting notes, and hundreds of hours of interviews with most of the key players, including the president, Woodward offers an original, you-are-there account of Obama and his team in this time of turmoil and uncertainty.
©2010 Simon and Schuster Audio; 2010 Bob Woodward
Like mysteries, not much in to SciFi, hate vampire books. Like most all years of history.
Initially my interest was high as I learned the inner workings at the very pinnacle of government. Few surprises as cabinet heads and others fight for power and position. By the middle of the book the story had morphed into more and more of the same conversations at the never-ending meetings. Toward the end I was just wanting it to be over. Too much detail, not enough punch for me.
Absolutely just repeat after repeat of the same thing at a different place. After a while it is hard to know exactly what time they are speaking about because you have just finished listening to the same thing a few chapters back. I was most disappointed in this book but if you love detail after detail in similar circumstance- you will like this book. Good luck.
President Obama said his most important decision was to determine the strategy for the wars he inherited in Afghanistan and Iraq. This book is primarily about how the White House and Pentagon decisions on troop levels for 2009 to 2011 in Afghanistan.
The "wars" of the title is not about combat, ground tactics, or the suffering of the Afghani or Iraqi people. In fact, in the first 25 chapters -- as far as I could listen -- there was really nothing about Iraq at all. The wars are between factions of opinionated but ill-informed White House staffers and senior officials (Clinton, Gates, Holbrook, and Biden) on one hand, and opinionated, self-satisfied and ignorant generals (McChrystal, Petraeus, et al) who are supposed to be advising Obama. All of them are self-confidently planning how NATO and the US can craft the future of Afghanistan, without ever asking any NATO partners, much less Afghanis, whether their plans will work. The Generals actually advocate what they call "anti-insurgency", which would have US soldiers and marines making friends by living among the Afghanis. Sounds sort of what the Germans and Japanese tried in WWII, without greatly endearing themselves to the locals. Could any sane person really believe that bacon-burger eating Christian Marines, trained primarily as killers, would blend in in Muslim, quasi-medieval, Afghanistan?
There are three problems with the book (as distinct from the history that it describes). The first is that while the politics is important, it could have been described in a long magazine length article. It does not need a whole book. Woodward goes through each meeting, formal and informal, in tedious detail. He claims in the introduction that he has not invented any words, personal reactions or comments by the principals, but that cannot possibly be true. At one point I began skipping whole chapters, only to find that the narrative had advanced only a day or two. It would appear that in order to come out with a book every 18 months, Woodward has to squeeze hundreds of pages out of a few paragraphs of information.
The second problem is that Woodward is way too impressed with himself. He makes himself part of the story, as if he was Robert Redford in All the President's Men. The reality is that he is adept at getting people to be disloyal -- leaking documents, divulging private conversations, etc. Quite discreditable behaviour on the part of his sources, but in this day and age hardly brilliant journalism on Woodward's part. (The constant lip-flap of his sources cannot be justified as whistle-blowers divulging necessary secrets, because the actual decisions and actions were all made public).
The third problem is that Woodward himself is just as beltway blind as the politicos and generals. He never comments on how bizarre it is for these people to think they can control a country without ever asking the people living there what they think about it. He never comments that the whole idea of soldiers and marines winning the hearts and minds of Afghani peasants is just absurd. Worse, he seems to think that the political (small p, and small minded) infighting is the real story, while telling us nothing about what was happening on the ground during the same period.
I don't know what happens in the final third of the book. I have lots of other great Audible books, and I will listen to one of them.
Woodward delivers the goods, as always. Inciteful and informative without being partisan.
The discussion of the situation in Pakistan
The raid on OBL's compound
It's always intresting to peal back the layers and see the truth underneath. Woodward again has produced a very good work.
General Patreus very much reminded me of General McCarther with all the grand standing. A man more interested in his public image than anything else
The narrator gives a good sense of the people involved.
How the US Military works against the President in its own interest
While I found the subject interesting, the description was tedious. The meetings were endless (as I'm sure they needed to be) but someone needs to make a decision. And ultimately the decisions were made based on a combination of facts, hunches and politics. Makes me a little nervous. As for the production. This was the worst narration I've ever heard in an audio book. Whoever authorized the pace of reading aught to have to listen to it. Again. I put it on double speed and still had time to analyze the day between sentences.
Obama's War tells a very interesting story of the relationship between the Obama Administration and US military leadership.
All of the characters are interesting, providing different points of view on escalation of the Afghanistan war.
This books flaw is the narration. Its too over the top bordering on corny.
The Forgotten War
A reviling look into how Obama's administration is handling the wars and the tensions that exist between the Military and the administration. Well written and well narrated!
Wow. I bought this book because of the whole debate of Iraq and Afghanistan and wanted to see the "behind the scenes" aspects of how this debate was occuring w/ the major power players. What I realized after reading this book is that although our President is a strong leader, charismatic, and seems to assemble alot of smart people around him, he doesn't seem to have an ability to make a decision. He also does not seem to have an ability to understand the intricacies of Washington politics. The fact that he alienated nearly 90% of his senior advisers and cabinet in the first 18 months as president does not bode well for how the rest of this term in going to play out. I tell you what, I am for hope and change, I hope we change presidents in 2012.
(On a non-substance input, I did not like the speaker/voice of the person reading the book, it sounded like somebody trying to do a bad Admiral Mullen impersonation for 10 hours).
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