Of all the players in the planning and evolution of the Bush Administration's war on terrorism, few were more integral - or more controversial - than Douglas Feith, the chief strategist on Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon policy team. A highly influential international policy analyst for more than a quarter century before joining the Bush Administration in 2001, Feith worked closely with Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Cheney, and President Bush in defining the U.S. response to the attacks of 9/11 - from the successful war on Afghanistan to the more challenging invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.
Now, in this candid and revealing memoir, Feith - a founding member of the "neoconservative" movement and an architect of the administration's preventive strategy in the war on terrorism - offers the most in-depth and authoritative account yet of the Pentagon's evolving stance during one of the most controversial eras of American history.
Drawing upon a unique trove of documents and records, this extraordinary chronicle will put the reader in the room for scores of previously unreported senior-level meetings, showing how hundreds of critical decisions were made in defense of American interests during and after the crisis of 9/11 - decisions both successful and controversial.
©2008 Douglas J. Feith; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
After reading and listening to numerous accounts of the Iraq War, mostly from the Left, it is refreshing to finally have an account from someone who was actually "in the loop." Clearly, the author has his own political perspective, but that is why he was recruited and became a key player in the DoD and administration during the time that key decisions where being made in the planning and conduct of the war.
Feith does an admirable job of recording key events while offering his opinions and the various, frequently opposing, points of view that contributed to the "real-time" decision making process of the War. It reminded me that we often forget that hindsight is 20/20, and when looking forward, with limited information, choosing the correct -- much less optimal -- course of action can be a difficult, if not impossible, task.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book was the author's insight to the personalities involved in making Iraq War policy and how their interactions shaped those policies. It gives listeners the feeling of being a "fly on the wall" as these "alpha-males" (and Condi) clashed and compromised.
In the past, I promised myself to "never" purchase another abridged audiobook, especially those dealing with politics. However, I must say that this was an abridged, non-fiction recording that I found; and I suspect other discerning, detail-oriented, "political junkie" listeners will find, satisfying. Further, I found the author's audiobook narrative sufficiently compelling that I have purchased the print version just to be sure that I didn't miss any important details that were omitted in the abridgement. Perhaps this is a new strategy for publishers -- a print and audio "double-play?"
A very good read. The fellow is very intelligent and hence makes some compelling arguments that were not articulated very well by more public figures after 9/11 and the build up to the Iraq war. No matter what side you take on the subject, to get a balanced story, this book is from one of the insiders. Historians will find this book rewarding. Read this and George Tenent's book for comparisons of the inside Washington dialogues.
If you have ever wondered about the how and why of the mess that was the first three years or so in Iraq, this book provides an excellent perspective. It does require an open mind, though, as Colin Powell's deification is questioned and Rumsfeld's effigy burning could be demoted to a mere tar and feathering.
Well worth the read if you still care.
If you want to know what people inside the Bush administration were thinking while they made foreign policy decisions like invading Iraq and Afghanistan, this is worth a read. Probably of more interest to foreign policy wonks or score settlers than a general audience.
I do have a hypothesis that this book suffers in its abridged version. I can't be sure because I never read the full version, but I think some of the history and arguments would have been more comprehensive if they were complete. Since the real audience of this book is people interested in nuance, the full version probably is better.
A well narrated book, the writer has attempted to leave his personal politics at the door as he provides an insightful and often suprising perspective of the events leading to the Irag invasion. There were times, however, that he gave governmental organizations, and characters - such as Donald Rumsfeld - way too much respect and without enough honest retrospect.
No matter what your political view:
Looking back in hindsight on event tends to change the perception of the event. Moreover one is tempted to think that ANY other choice would have been more beneficial that the one's taken. We only experience problems from choices made, not the what ifs!
This book does give a very detailed perception of one of the players. And yes it is very very plausible. If you are one of those people who think that Bush and his gang was pure evil or like a lot of Germans supported Saddam because he hated jews, maybe this is not for you.
If you are willing to take a less extreme position, this is definitely a book worth listening too. But warning it is a big work, not a 4 word slogan which sounds good.
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