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"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he sa "Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he said we were at a "turning point" that history would mark as the time "the forces of terror began their long retreat." State of Denial examines how the Bush administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, to Congress, and often to themselves. Two days after the May report, the Pentagon told Congress, in a report required by law, that the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007." In this detailed inside story of a war-torn White House, Bob Woodward reveals how White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, with the indirect support of other high officials, tried for 18 months to get Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replaced. The president and Vice President Cheney refused. At the beginning of Bush's second term, Stephen Hadley, who replaced Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser, gave the administration a "D minus" on implementing its policies. A SECRET report to the new Secretary of State Rice from her counselor stated that, nearly two years after the invasion, Iraq was a "failed state." State of Denial reveals that at the urging of Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld, the most frequent outside visitor and Iraq adviser to President Bush is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who, haunted still by the loss in Vietnam, emerges as a hidden and potent voice. Woodward reveals that the secretary of defense himself believes that the system of coordination among departments and agencies is broken, and in a SECRET May 1, 2006, memo, Rumsfeld stated, "the current system of government makes competence next to impossible." State of Denial answers the core questions: What happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush make decisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And is there an achievable plan for victory? Bob Woodward's third book on President Bush is a sweeping narrative -- from the first days George W. Bush thought seriously about running for president through the recruitment of his national security team, the war in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the struggle for political survival in the second term. After more than three decades of reporting on national security decision making -- including his two #1 national bestsellers on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush at War (2002) and Plan of Attack (2004) -- Woodward provides the fullest account, and explanation, of the road Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the White House staff have walked.


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"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he sa "Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he said we were at a "turning point" that history would mark as the time "the forces of terror began their long retreat." State of Denial examines how the Bush administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, to Congress, and often to themselves. Two days after the May report, the Pentagon told Congress, in a report required by law, that the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007." In this detailed inside story of a war-torn White House, Bob Woodward reveals how White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, with the indirect support of other high officials, tried for 18 months to get Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replaced. The president and Vice President Cheney refused. At the beginning of Bush's second term, Stephen Hadley, who replaced Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser, gave the administration a "D minus" on implementing its policies. A SECRET report to the new Secretary of State Rice from her counselor stated that, nearly two years after the invasion, Iraq was a "failed state." State of Denial reveals that at the urging of Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld, the most frequent outside visitor and Iraq adviser to President Bush is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who, haunted still by the loss in Vietnam, emerges as a hidden and potent voice. Woodward reveals that the secretary of defense himself believes that the system of coordination among departments and agencies is broken, and in a SECRET May 1, 2006, memo, Rumsfeld stated, "the current system of government makes competence next to impossible." State of Denial answers the core questions: What happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush make decisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And is there an achievable plan for victory? Bob Woodward's third book on President Bush is a sweeping narrative -- from the first days George W. Bush thought seriously about running for president through the recruitment of his national security team, the war in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the struggle for political survival in the second term. After more than three decades of reporting on national security decision making -- including his two #1 national bestsellers on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush at War (2002) and Plan of Attack (2004) -- Woodward provides the fullest account, and explanation, of the road Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the White House staff have walked.

30 review for State of Denial

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Well, Woodward certainly got some of the inside skinny, but for my money, Fiasco is a much better book - better writing, clearer timeline, more complete look at all the players involved, esp. military (although I like how obsessed Woodward is with blaming everything on Rumsfeld!). This book feels like a giant apology/"don't blame me!" for Woodward's uncritical support of the administration in the run-up to the war. Well, Woodward certainly got some of the inside skinny, but for my money, Fiasco is a much better book - better writing, clearer timeline, more complete look at all the players involved, esp. military (although I like how obsessed Woodward is with blaming everything on Rumsfeld!). This book feels like a giant apology/"don't blame me!" for Woodward's uncritical support of the administration in the run-up to the war.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    I read this book remarkably quickly (for me), it really drives at a great pace, and it isn't hard to follow. You have to play close attention to the names of all the people, but enough of them have already been in the news that it isn't all that hard. It's just tough to figure out which general is which sometimes. Unbelievable, some of the sequences of events which Woodward writes about. He had exhaustive interviews with just about everyone in the Bush administration and with so many generals, a I read this book remarkably quickly (for me), it really drives at a great pace, and it isn't hard to follow. You have to play close attention to the names of all the people, but enough of them have already been in the news that it isn't all that hard. It's just tough to figure out which general is which sometimes. Unbelievable, some of the sequences of events which Woodward writes about. He had exhaustive interviews with just about everyone in the Bush administration and with so many generals, and he has a wealth of information. The passages about the decision to dissolve the Iraqi Army right after the invasion, and the de-Baathification stuff, are still kind of incredible, especially when you realize, as you read, that there WERE people, several people, telling the administration that this was a terrible idea. Living through it back then, reading in the newspapers, we didn't really get a lot from the dissenters, but they did exist, and they knew we were making mistakes. The main thing I got out of this, beyond anything else, was what a terrible mistake Rumsfeld turned out to be. Over and over again, Woodward gives us examples of Rumsfeld fighting with other members of the administration (powell and rice), micromanaging everyone, refusing to let the generals speak to the president except through him, and refusing to admit it when anything goes wrong. And trying to shift blame for everything onto other people. If only Bush had installed someone else in that position at the start, or had just fired him, but he was totally unwilling to do that. I think as president, if you are installing a cabinet member that you know you will be incapable of firing (because you feel intimidated by their experience maybe), you are in a lot of trouble.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kunal Lal

    This book can be read in many ways, as a historical novel, a stylized piece on recent history (1999 - 2006) or even as a management case study. Consider the Bush cabinet, made up of hard working, brilliant men and women with stellar records, exceptional work habits who nonetheless failed miserably when put in action. An inexperienced Bush lacked the confidence to rein in the oversized personalities of Rumsfeld and Cheney, instead he seemed to trust whatever he was told. Powell turned out to be to This book can be read in many ways, as a historical novel, a stylized piece on recent history (1999 - 2006) or even as a management case study. Consider the Bush cabinet, made up of hard working, brilliant men and women with stellar records, exceptional work habits who nonetheless failed miserably when put in action. An inexperienced Bush lacked the confidence to rein in the oversized personalities of Rumsfeld and Cheney, instead he seemed to trust whatever he was told. Powell turned out to be too diffident to intervene in a timely manner and Rice proved ineffective in the NSC with a somewhat better record in the State Department. Bremmer styled himself Viceroy sidelining all the work done by the Garner's reconstruction team till then and proved to be unanswerable to anyone but Bush himself who rarely pressed him in the crucial few months just after Saddam's regime fell. Rumsfeld provides a classic case study in micromanagement and god disease. Rumsfeld entered as Secretary of Defense with a clear agenda of reforming, streamlining and speeding up the military for the 21st century. He rejected the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force instead opting for a doctrine that minimized the number of troops used. However, in this reformist crusade, he met continual resistance. He attacked this like a bulldozer, trampling over or sidelining dissent and people who could standup to him. As a result, as the Iraqi insurgency grew and Rumsfeld increasingly seemed to lose grip on the reality of the situation (watch The Unknown Known by Errol Morris for this), there was no one who could stop him or even tell him how wrong he was. The voice of the military had been neutered. We see here the genesis of the tragedy that consumed the nation of Iraq. Since the book stops at 2006, we don't see the effect of Petreus's surge strategy or the rise of ISIS, but Woodward's interview access to many of the key figures does give one an overall feel for the key personalities who played a part in Iraq and what shaped their decisions.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    I guess I should have given it more than two stars, because it functions well as a simple straightforward (somewhat) objective journalistic account of who said what to whom (at least that they later felt comfortable repeating to Bob Woodward) in the White House's decision to go to and continue war in Iraq. However, the bias does show through, sometimes to the right, like when he refers to the Brookings Institute as a "left-wing think tank," and then not even two pages later, refers to the RAND c I guess I should have given it more than two stars, because it functions well as a simple straightforward (somewhat) objective journalistic account of who said what to whom (at least that they later felt comfortable repeating to Bob Woodward) in the White House's decision to go to and continue war in Iraq. However, the bias does show through, sometimes to the right, like when he refers to the Brookings Institute as a "left-wing think tank," and then not even two pages later, refers to the RAND corporation as a "think tank." Later the bias leans in a slightly different direction (Woodward does actually use the word "Fearmongering" in reference to Bush's 2004 campaign) which is not surprising, since the book probably took some years to finish. I suppose I would rather see Woodward doing the same kind of investigative journalism he did during the '70s, instead of, in passing reference to the events of 9-11, just saying "everyone is intimately familiar with the events of that day," and then moving on, as if there were nothing to discuss, or briefly acknowledging, in listing Kerry's post-election options, that he had the option of challenging "voting irregularites" in Ohio. Nothing more is said. I guess that's Greg Palast's job now. If you care about really getting to the bottom of Bush's climb to power, do not waste your time with this book. If all you want is what at times amounts to little more than White House gossip, this is the book for you. Just please keep in mind that Woodward's embedded nature within the White House makes it impossible for him to report anything truly damaging, but at the same time still doesn't give him access to the kind of information or conversations that would shed real light on the situation.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Littrell

    Exhaustive indictment of Bush's failure in Iraq There is a sense in reading this long book that the overall import of the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq are lost in the thicket of the words, lost among the turf wars and the personality clashes, among the intense concentrations on each individual action or speech, each personnel change and the myriad events on the ground. But Woodward's title makes it clear what has happened: the Bush administration through flawed (or lack of) foresight, ig Exhaustive indictment of Bush's failure in Iraq There is a sense in reading this long book that the overall import of the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq are lost in the thicket of the words, lost among the turf wars and the personality clashes, among the intense concentrations on each individual action or speech, each personnel change and the myriad events on the ground. But Woodward's title makes it clear what has happened: the Bush administration through flawed (or lack of) foresight, ignorance and confused execution perpetuated upon the United States and the world one of the worse foreign policy blunders ever by an American president and then wrapped itself in a cocoon of denial. The text runs 491 pages. It could be shorter. Woodward worked mostly on "background," that is, with the understanding that the information could be used but the source would not be identified by name. President Bush, who had been interviewed four times for Woodward's previous books, did not allow an interview for this book. Woodward's last interview with Bush was in 2003. Cheney also declined to be interviewed. Other officials, mostly notably Rumsfeld spoke on record. Woodward recorded the interviews which accounts for the numerous quotes in the text. Rumsfeld is the chief villain, omnipresent, cajoling, bullying, denying, obscuring, getting his way, micromanaging, at it 14 hours a day, seven days a week, the ultimate ivory tower bureaucratic drunk with his power and lost in the trees and the weeds. Condi Rice is off to the side, behind Bush listening, listening, enigmatic, reminding me somehow of Shakespeare's Iago. Bush is the action guy, the decider, as he likes to think of himself. He glad hands people and needles them, asks about their accent or where they went to school, dreams up nicknames, disparages, rides roughshod and gets people to justify his agenda. And denies, denies, denies, because to Bush to admit error is to give comfort to your enemies. In the background is Dick Cheney, the puppeteer masterminding the whole disaster. He occasionally comes forward to further some bold-faced lie. The disconnect between reality and the neocon dream is stunning. All these self-important types in the DOD and the Bush White House running around deciding the fate of millions of people and spending hundreds of billions of dollars appeared as children playing some kind of game unsupervised by adults. Only Powell in the state department seemed to have any sense of history or moral responsibility, and sadly he became just a tool in the process because he could not help but be the good soldier and obey the commander in chief. Woodward quotes Michigan Senator Carl Levin as saying "Powell had the potential to change the course here...He's the only one who had the potential to." Levin apparently believed that the war might have been avoided had Powell threatened to resign in protest. He was a powerful figure at that time and now is ultimately a tragic character. Also tragic is the behind the scenes part played by Henry Kissinger who occasionally came to the White House to give advice to Bush 43. For inexplicable reasons the president admired him even though Kissinger's policies failed in Vietnam and even though several decades later he still refuses to accept blame for that failure. To him it was a matter of not getting enough support from the American public, from the press and from Congress. He believes if we had maintained our resolve we would have "won" in Vietnam. "Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy" (p. 408) is Kissinger's position on Iraq, which has become Bush's position. But the only realistic way to win a war against an insurgency (other than through killing most or all of them) is to win the hearts and minds of the people. We haven't done that. It's too vast a project to even contemplate, which is why most authorities are opposed to "nation building." It would take too long and require the kind of soft force that we have yet to develop: peace corps types, translators, educators, media and advertising people, engineers and technicians, economists, bankers, agriculturalists, even sociologists, and the recruitment of a sizeable percentage of the population. It would require a security force several times the size of the military that we presently have in Iraq to protect the soft force. It would require a virtual army of nation-building people versed in nation-building skills. You don't use infantrymen to build nations. By the time we get to 2005 (the book went to press around July 2006) Condi Rice, now Secretary of State, is presenting a condition for success in Iraq. It consists of "breaking and neutralizing the insurgency, keeping Iraq from becoming a significant base for terrorism, demonstrating some democratic process, and turning the corner fiscally and economically." (p. 417) Ironically, all of these conditions (with the exception of the vague "demonstrating some democratic process") prevailed in Iraq before we invaded! Woodward makes it clear that Bush is responsible for the war. He wasn't brainwashed by Wolfowitz or Cheney. He had his own reasons to invade: to go one up on his father; to run in 2004 as a wartime president (something his father failed to do and was not reelected); to show his macho; to let the generals play with and test their hi-tech toys; to exhaust the treasury; to keep the oil flowing...etc. Bush is the frat boy at sixty. Clever, shrewd, shallow and untouched by the harm that he does to others. --Dennis Littrell, author of “The World Is Not as We Think It Is”

  6. 4 out of 5

    John Miller

    There were four Woodward books focusing on the Iraq War and the Bush Administration, and this is by far the best of the four. (I did read the fourth installment "The War Within" before this one, coincidentally.) The descriptions of Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney, and Powell are enlightening and in many cases, disturbing. And the overall mind-set, that the Iraq War was a defensive response to 911, among the civilian AND military leaders during the first six years of the new century is revealing and alarm There were four Woodward books focusing on the Iraq War and the Bush Administration, and this is by far the best of the four. (I did read the fourth installment "The War Within" before this one, coincidentally.) The descriptions of Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney, and Powell are enlightening and in many cases, disturbing. And the overall mind-set, that the Iraq War was a defensive response to 911, among the civilian AND military leaders during the first six years of the new century is revealing and alarming. This might be my favorite Woodward book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Part III of Woodward's 4-part series, Bush At War. The degree to which Bush policies for post war Iraq lacked strategy is astonishing. An incredible example of how bright people, when they don't work together as a team and focus narrowly on their own preconceived notions, can create incredible chaos. Part III of Woodward's 4-part series, Bush At War. The degree to which Bush policies for post war Iraq lacked strategy is astonishing. An incredible example of how bright people, when they don't work together as a team and focus narrowly on their own preconceived notions, can create incredible chaos.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Shocking. Depressing. Illuminating.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Henry

    There's a circle of Hell reserved for the Bush administration. That is all. There's a circle of Hell reserved for the Bush administration. That is all.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter K

    Bob Woodward's rightful reputation as the chronicler of modern American history is further enhanced by this further book examining the presidency of George W Bush after the start of the Iraq invasion and carrying over his re-election to office in 2004. Readers familiar with Woodward's methods will recognise the manner in which this book unfolds. With unrivalled access to the main protagonists for both on and off the record input as well as a meticulous eye for detail and evidence gathering this is Bob Woodward's rightful reputation as the chronicler of modern American history is further enhanced by this further book examining the presidency of George W Bush after the start of the Iraq invasion and carrying over his re-election to office in 2004. Readers familiar with Woodward's methods will recognise the manner in which this book unfolds. With unrivalled access to the main protagonists for both on and off the record input as well as a meticulous eye for detail and evidence gathering this is a carefully put together book working through decisions , motivations and outcomes at a steady pace without judgement, more observation. I recall from the time that this book was first published reading of those who were disappointed that Woodward did not make more of an impassioned case for the prosecution of the follies and failures of the Iraq war. Personally I think this point of view both shows a misunderstanding, wilful or otherwise , of the way that Woodward works as well as overlooking the devastating case that Woodward lays out in forensic detail about both the method and quality of decision making in the Bush administration. This is the work of a high court lawyer rather than some one relying on volume and rhetoric to make a case. Painstakingly Woodward works through key policy decisions, how they were arrived at , the quality of the evidence that available and used and the actions of the main senior decision makers. Most readers will need, as I did, to keep referring back to remind themselves of the changing cast of characters to keep a handle on the story but it is worth the effort to keep on top of narrative. What is portrayed very clearly is a President with a determined belief that he must be "the calcium in the backbone" once a decision has been made - an attitude that both implicitly and explicitly suppresses dissent, enquiry and the possibility of new evidence. This is also allied to the President's apparent unwillingness to question too deeply what is presented to him and the scene is set for a determined persistence to pursue a policy that many saw as failing. Donald Rumsfeld bestrides the book which , in a way would clearly please the man who sees himself as a far sighted strategic leader but he is shown in this work to be a controlling micro manager which for such a huge responsibility as Secretary for Defense in a period of war lead to paralysis of delivery. Additionally Rumsfeld is shown to be a colleague who is extremely difficult to work with and not reluctant to undermine and obstruct others. Another detailed indictment of how an administration should not work, how lives are lost through failure to respond to changing evidence and how the sheer weight of the President's office can lead to truth not being spoken to power

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aik Lim

    This final book of his trilogy of Bush at War details the disastrous invasion of Iraq which at time of this review, continues to drag the US in the quagmire that is nation building in Iraq. Painted a dysfunctional Bush Admin where too much politics is played within the national security apparatus and no one to push back on Rumsfeld. 2 key points in light of the Trump Admin -- the Bush II Admin had the best foreign policy and military braintrust to count on and still failed -- what chance the idi This final book of his trilogy of Bush at War details the disastrous invasion of Iraq which at time of this review, continues to drag the US in the quagmire that is nation building in Iraq. Painted a dysfunctional Bush Admin where too much politics is played within the national security apparatus and no one to push back on Rumsfeld. 2 key points in light of the Trump Admin -- the Bush II Admin had the best foreign policy and military braintrust to count on and still failed -- what chance the idiots pretending to be the brains of the Trump Admin? Second, even for the Bush Admin, much of Year 3 and 4 of his first term was focused on re-election, what chance that any meaningful policies can come out of any US Admin particularly one as divisive as this current one that everything is done to maximise chance of re-election? Read Killing of Sulaimen of Iran, Middle East plan etc etc

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Murphy

    State of Denial by Bob Woodward is when the disaster that was the Iraq War becomes apparent. Bush at War was vital for understanding the initial war on terror, and Plan of Attack was like watching a slow-moving train-wreck (or maybe watching the Titanic heading out of port and into the North Atlantic). State of Denial is the payoff, and a terrible one at that. It is less instrumental than the prior two, but it remains important to possessing a view of the Iraq War that is not prone to caricature State of Denial by Bob Woodward is when the disaster that was the Iraq War becomes apparent. Bush at War was vital for understanding the initial war on terror, and Plan of Attack was like watching a slow-moving train-wreck (or maybe watching the Titanic heading out of port and into the North Atlantic). State of Denial is the payoff, and a terrible one at that. It is less instrumental than the prior two, but it remains important to possessing a view of the Iraq War that is not prone to caricature. I highly recommend it, even if the narrative falls into backbiting and recrimination as the players who would have been eager to father success, now fight to ensure that defeat is an orphan. 89/100

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mandi Scott

    White House or Animal House? Written by Mandi Chestler on September 18th, 2007 Book Rating: 4/5 Bob Woodward's 3rd installment in the Bush at War series provides a deeply disturbing picture of George the Second's disfunctional administration. These guys should be leading toga parties, not the "free world." Woodward's somewhat gossipy look at the personalities, behaviors and decisions of the worst president and White House administration in the history of the United States is entertaining, yet distr White House or Animal House? Written by Mandi Chestler on September 18th, 2007 Book Rating: 4/5 Bob Woodward's 3rd installment in the Bush at War series provides a deeply disturbing picture of George the Second's disfunctional administration. These guys should be leading toga parties, not the "free world." Woodward's somewhat gossipy look at the personalities, behaviors and decisions of the worst president and White House administration in the history of the United States is entertaining, yet distressing. After listening to this audio book, one thought came to mind: to paraphrase a famous quote from National Lampoon's Animal House, "we screwed up, we trusted these clowns!"

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike Medeiros

    Woodward gets inside access but like mist of what I have read by him it reads like a book by committee or dictation since so much wirk is usually done by assistants and researchers. And also because so much of his work (including this one) is written about very current events, many still on going, there isn't a finality to the ending. But if you know that going in and keep it in mind there's usually plenty to hold your interest. Woodward gets inside access but like mist of what I have read by him it reads like a book by committee or dictation since so much wirk is usually done by assistants and researchers. And also because so much of his work (including this one) is written about very current events, many still on going, there isn't a finality to the ending. But if you know that going in and keep it in mind there's usually plenty to hold your interest.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    In terms of the groundwork that went into this book it was excellent. Woodward did some serious research and talked to officials from every level it seems. As always he is an excellent reporter. But, he is a very poor analyst. As a reporter he has the luxury of not needing to offer an alternative. This book is filled with side critiques and digs but the combination of them is a little mystifying. For example, he spends much of the book making oblique criticisms of Bush for not being involved eno In terms of the groundwork that went into this book it was excellent. Woodward did some serious research and talked to officials from every level it seems. As always he is an excellent reporter. But, he is a very poor analyst. As a reporter he has the luxury of not needing to offer an alternative. This book is filled with side critiques and digs but the combination of them is a little mystifying. For example, he spends much of the book making oblique criticisms of Bush for not being involved enough and not changing things in the bureaucracy. Then when Bush is involved, Woodward is quick to criticize him for being involved, saying disparagingly that Bush was playing General or playing case officer. Woodward's treatment of Rumsfeld is similarly puzzling. We hear that such and such General didn't like Rumsfeld, or Rumsfeld shot down this good idea that would have helped. But, Woodward never talks about what Rumsfeld was actually doing or fighting for in the bureaucracy, just that a lot of people disagreed with him. Woodward badly made me want to read Rumsfeld's book just so I have an alternative account. I don't think that Woodward understands Rumsfeld either really. I think he dislikes him and is suspicious of him but he never shows even a glimmer of what Rumsfeld's real motivations are. If I were to go purely by this book, piecing together Woodward's criticisms than Rumsfeld was deliberately sabotaging the Iraq war effort. I think even Rumsfeld's most virulent critics wouldn't say that. That's the thing though with Woodward's books (and most reporting for that matter), he doesn't NEED to have a cohesive alternative to anything. He just makes disconnected jabs and criticisms that when taken together amount to a confusing mess theoretically. Another glaring example is his account of the disagreements about withdrawing troops. Woodward tells us about the courageous Congressman from Pennsylvania (Murtha I think) who proposes a bill to withdraw troops. When the bill is defeated Woodward praises Murtha effusively for being so connected and knowing what's right. In fact anytime any of the central players proposes withdrawing in any form, they are seen as a ray of hope. So, is Woodward saying we should just withdraw immediately? A little at a time? Train and then leave? Its not very clear. Just that Bush inc. are wrong. For Woodward it comes down to the following assumptions, and he is emblematic of how most people in the press handled the Iraq war: -The Iraq war was a mistake and should not have happened because no weapons of mass destruction were found after the invasion. -The Bush administration should not hope for success or be publicly optimistic I know many had these views and for understandable reasons but its frustrating to me to not hear the other side. Having read Pres. Bush's and Vice Pres. Cheney's books I do have some idea about how they would respond. I think their explanations have merit but Woodward gives them little credence. Bush would say that the Commander in Chief had to show resolve for the sake of the troops and for the allies. Vice Pres. Cheney would say that 9/11 was a call for a war broader than Afghanistan. A war against networks of terror. Controversial, yes but worth discussion other than just a derisive acknowledgment. You know reflecting on it, in some ways Iraq draws those same Vietnam lines that are familiar even to those of us who didn't live through it. Some Americans see the horrendous cost of war and just despair. Woodward is one of those. His despair and his frustration are inarticulate though. Others think we can succeed and offer various alternatives--All while heroic people are dying. I lean more towards the "various alternatives" side but I relate a lot to the despair. War is terrible, even just to those on the sidelines not to mention those brave and good souls who put themselves in harm's way for a higher cause. Woodward's books demonstrate to me how complex the Iraq war was-- How many levels of coordination, policy and assumptions there were at work. He also makes me pretty pessimistic about the vast bureaucracies that make up the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. The coordination between the State Dept. and the Defense Department seems an eternal problem regardless of who is running the show. The turf wars, complex chains of command, and risk averse nature of bureaucracies are extremely difficult to navigate. The processes of creating and implementing policy are both cumbersome and disconnected from one another. The Joint Chiefs relationship with the Secretary of State is poorly defined and seems almost programmed to cause tension. This was very interesting to read about. Overall well worth a read for someone ignorant of the Iraq war (as I am). A great general guide to what happens. Definitely more to read and lots of perspectives to consider. For example just after this book I would like to read more about Jay Garner's and Jerry Bremer's time as heads of state in Iraq, General Franks' time as CENTCOM commander and definitely Rumsfeld who seems to be a major center of gravity in the whole thing but who Woodward doesn't seem to understand. I think we'll be puzzling over the Iraq war for decades to come. This has been a helpful and informative account.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Daryll

    The final chapter in the Bush at War series for Woodward. It ends the way it began, showing how the few who were in charge had no idea what they were doing, and refusing to accept it as fact. If only egos could be tamed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Seth J. Vogelman

    If true, it is a confirmation of the evilness of Rumsfeld, the criminal naivety of Bremer and the lack of leadership on Bush's part, turning Iraq into the debacle it became. Having watched it unfold while it happened, reading the gritty details is especially painful. If true, it is a confirmation of the evilness of Rumsfeld, the criminal naivety of Bremer and the lack of leadership on Bush's part, turning Iraq into the debacle it became. Having watched it unfold while it happened, reading the gritty details is especially painful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Very good. Very detailed. Learned why I never liked Donald Rumsfeld!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Doug Mitchell

    Watergate Never Looked So Good “State of Denial” Bob Woodward Simon & Schuster If you have had the misfortune of reading a few of my book reviews, you will know that I am very fond of fiction. How I wish “State of Denial” was fiction. Unfortunately, the story is not fiction. It’s all too real. The front page headline that greeted readers of the Independent Record under the banner of “Happy New Year,” read “U.S. death toll in Iraq breaks 3,000.” It doesn’t get any more real than that. With the publicat Watergate Never Looked So Good “State of Denial” Bob Woodward Simon & Schuster If you have had the misfortune of reading a few of my book reviews, you will know that I am very fond of fiction. How I wish “State of Denial” was fiction. Unfortunately, the story is not fiction. It’s all too real. The front page headline that greeted readers of the Independent Record under the banner of “Happy New Year,” read “U.S. death toll in Iraq breaks 3,000.” It doesn’t get any more real than that. With the publication this year of “State of Denial,” Bob Woodward is back. Kind of. Woodward is, of course, the Washington Post reporter who, with his then partner Carl Bernstien, broke the Watergate story and wrote the seminal book on the subject in “All the President’s Men.” Since then, Woodward has been busy writing books – some great (“The Brethren”) and some that seem more intended to rais e his profile than actually imparting useful insight (“The Choice”). “State of Denial” is Woodward’s third book about the war in Iraq and certainly the best written and most powerful of the three. Woodward provides a front-row seat from which the reader gets to watch the decision-making process, or lack thereof, of the Bush administration on Iraq policy. Suffice it to say it is not a flattering view. The story is important and gripping and, at times, somewhat slow. At nearly 500 pages, “State of Denial” takes some discipline, especially because the story is so grim. Woodward frequently injects himself in the book, speaking in the first person about his incredulity over the content of certain of his interviews. In one telling exchange with then Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, Woodward asks if Secretary Rumsfeld, as a military commander, felt that his mistakes cost lives. Shockingly, Rumsfled attempted to convince Woodward that he was not a military commander. Woodward writes, “It was inexplicable, Rumsfeld had spent so much time insisting on the chain of command. He was in control – not the Joint Chiefs, not the uniformed military, not the NSC staff, not the critics or opiners. How could he not see his role and responsibility? I could think of nothing more to say.” This from the reporter who uncovered Watergate; a scandal that led to the resignation of the President of the United States and the imprisonment of numerous high government officials. So appalled was he that he “could think of nothing more to say.” It is a stinging, and if the rest of the book is fair, accurate indictment of the proclivity of Secretary Rumsfeld and others at the highest level of our government to avoid taking responsibility for the consequences of their decision to go to war. It is from numerous interactions like his conversation with Secretary Rumsfeld that Woodward no doubt came to decide the ti tle of this book, “State of Denial.” And, as he and Bernstien did in their Watergate reporting, Woodward may have with “State of Denial” changed the course of history. Only months after the release of the book, Secretary Rumsfeld suddenly retired; an outcome the publication of “State of Denial” likely expedited or may have even caused. While I find that strong praise for the book on the one hand, I am a bit troubled by it on the other. Woodward saved much of the “news” he learned in his interviews for publication in this book – rather than share it with the public when the “news” was made. Keeping information from the public is a main accusation of the book and yet, in some ways, the author himself is complicit in the same error by holding key information until he was ready to publish his book. In the acknowledgments section Woodward refers to himself as a “lone ranger” among Washington Post reporters. In the Watergate days, that lone ranger was a ‘no capital letters’ lone ranger, a hard working reporter who simply worked harder, longer and smarter than most others. Recently, and in parts of this book, that Lone Ranger has capital letters and Woodward clearly sees his role as riding in on a white horse to save the day. I’ll excuse him for that. He’s an astonishingly smart, well connected reporter who has contributed greatly to the body of written work on public policy in America for the past 35 years. “State of Denial” will be an important book for years to come, and while one might be ambivalent about the messenger, the message is significant and historic. I grew-up in the Watergate era and read virtually every word written about it. For a teenager in America, the scandal of Watergate and the courageous reporting of Woodward and Bernstein was shocking, and “All the President’s Men” was a book about Presidential misconduct that could never be topped . I fear though that the political science students in 2050 who compare “All the President’s Men” and “State of Denial” will find the latter far more disturbing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    M. J.

    This again was a book being discarded by the library. I probably would have picked it up as interesting anyway, but the author is of course famous for his investigative reporting which uncovered Watergate, when I was in high school. Reading something by him was worth the effort even though there was a suggestion that this was the third book in a series. To that, it isn't really. Woodward has written two other books addressing something of the same period, what we might call the second Iraq war un This again was a book being discarded by the library. I probably would have picked it up as interesting anyway, but the author is of course famous for his investigative reporting which uncovered Watergate, when I was in high school. Reading something by him was worth the effort even though there was a suggestion that this was the third book in a series. To that, it isn't really. Woodward has written two other books addressing something of the same period, what we might call the second Iraq war under George W. Bush, but although he cites each of the other two once each in the text they seem to be addressing very different issues (and I'm not entirely certain what). This book is very much focused on the war--how we got into it, how we conducted it both politically and militarily, what were the short-term consequences, and why. It covers the people in great detail, from the President to his official and unofficial advisers to the key military personnel to the Iraqi leadership. It also addresses the problems they faced, and led to some very interesting conclusions. One key issue throughout was the problem of Weapons of Mass Destruction--WMDs. Going into the war, the administration and the military were certain that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling biological, chemical, and possibly nuclear weaponry, and would use it. There were hundreds of locations they had charted where production and storage of such materials were considered likely. Ultimately the administration came under harsh criticism because it never found any such weapons--but the criticism may have been unfair. What they found in many locations was the facilities to create such weapons ready for production that never occurred, and they were stymied on the one hand by the fact that they had no intelligence sources in the country prior to the attack and on the other hand by the fact that Saddam wanted people--and particularly his own subjects--to believe he had such weapons but was denying it publicly. We thus had the problem that we had a list of nine hundred forty-six locations likely to be producing such weapons, and the belief that at least a few of them actually were, but ultimately no proof that they ever did. In essence, the war was fought because of a mistake, but a mistake that the enemy strongly encouraged us to make. The greater problem, though, proved to be "winning the peace". In this, although he never directly says so, Woodward repeatedly seems to bring the problem back to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the President's refusal to remove him from the position. Rumsfeld not only did not listen to the advice of his own military people, he prevented them from delivering their opinions to the President. He fought with the State Department over who had control of situations in Iraq, taking control when he wanted it and denying responsibility when things weren't working well. Early in the peace three critical mistakes were made in going forward, all of them against recommendations of military and civilian advisors, and these led to growing problems thereafter. The biggest were probably the decisions to disband the military and fire everyone working for the government, including teachers, who were part of the previously ruling minority Sunni group--which mean all the teachers, as it was a requirement that you join the Sunni group to become a teacher. This led to large numbers of disenfranchised formerly empowered people in a country with a lot of problems who began to aggregate into insurgent militia groups, with support from neighboring Iran. They worked hard to impede any efforts to stabilize the country, including attacking petroleum production and pipelines, electricity delivery, police stations, and highways. It is at least arguable that this insurgency would have been greatly reduced had Rumsfeld not decided to disenfranchise so many people who could have been enlisted in making the new country work. I fear I do not know the outcome of the story, and the book does not tell me; it is a ten year old book, and the story had not ended when it went to print. However, there are a number of lessons in how to fail that are worth reading.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Reader Variety

    Another in a big grouping of analyses of Iraq. Woodward either had, or implies that he had, great access to the inner workings of the Bush administration. Most interesting point is that Woodward claims that after Sept. 11th Wolfowitz put together a "Bletchley Park" group of the best minds on Islam and the Middle East - Bernard Lewis, Fareed Zakaria, James Q. Wilson etc. Their conclusion was that the U.S. was in for a 2 generation battle with radical Islam, and the start was with Iraq as it was do Another in a big grouping of analyses of Iraq. Woodward either had, or implies that he had, great access to the inner workings of the Bush administration. Most interesting point is that Woodward claims that after Sept. 11th Wolfowitz put together a "Bletchley Park" group of the best minds on Islam and the Middle East - Bernard Lewis, Fareed Zakaria, James Q. Wilson etc. Their conclusion was that the U.S. was in for a 2 generation battle with radical Islam, and the start was with Iraq as it was doable and important. Armitage on leaving the government - your IQ goes up 30 points - "when you remove your fist from a pail of water there's no hole."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    In some senses, this book by Bob Woodward was somewhat behind the curve and something of a "Johnny Come Lately." We saw a number of journalists raise questions about America's invasion of Iraq before his book came out, including works such as Fallows' Blind into Baghdad, Diamond's Squandered Victory, Packer's The Assassin's Gate, Ricks' Fiasco, Galbraith's The End of Iraq, Suskind's The One Percent Solution, Risen's State of War, Rich's The Greatest Story Ever Sold, and Shadid's Night Draws Near In some senses, this book by Bob Woodward was somewhat behind the curve and something of a "Johnny Come Lately." We saw a number of journalists raise questions about America's invasion of Iraq before his book came out, including works such as Fallows' Blind into Baghdad, Diamond's Squandered Victory, Packer's The Assassin's Gate, Ricks' Fiasco, Galbraith's The End of Iraq, Suskind's The One Percent Solution, Risen's State of War, Rich's The Greatest Story Ever Sold, and Shadid's Night Draws Near. Thus, as one reads Woodward's book, much of the material was already familiar. We know that things had not gone well, that the Administration failed in considering post-war action, that there were not enough boots on the ground to assure security after the official war ended, that there was a rush to war. Furthermore, Woodward's earlier works depicting President George W. Bush as a firm leader made him appear, in the eyes of some critics, as something of an Administration supporter. Frank Rich, for instance, has so skewered Woodward in his book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold. Nonetheless, Woodward's book is a valuable addition to the literature. For one thing, as more information became available, his narrative drew on the increasingly richly textured data. For another, his unusual access to key figures allowed us to hear from major players in their own words (if he has captured their comments accurately). While, it is true, some of these people have axes to grind and whose words must be examined with that in mind, it is always valuable to hear from "insiders" regarding their perspectives on contemporary situations. I have often wondered why so many people are willing to speak so freely with Woodward, knowing that a book will be coming out at some point, and not knowing how their words will fit into his narrative. Nonetheless, this book does add to the increasing story of a mistaken venture that will be fodder for the works of future historians, as time allows for a more dispassionate analysis of the Iraqi incursion by the United States. The set of books mentioned above, as well as Woodward's book, suggests that history's judgment of the invasion of Iraq may well be negative, although that statement must await the test of time and history's ultimate assessment of the venture. Woodward's book does add to the literature with a series of vignettes that are fresh: Andrew Card's effort to get Donald Rumsfeld fired as Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld's refusal to return Condoleezza Rice's phone calls, the sad demise of Colin Powell as Secretary of State, David Boren's lament to Barbara Bush about his fears about a war with Iraq, Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar's role in the developing drama, the amateurish nature of Bremer's Iraq directorate, Henry Kissinger's role, and so on. There is enough new in this volume to justify the book's purchase by those interested in the American involvement in Iraq.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Richard Harden

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I find this book somewhat difficult to evaluate. The only other book of Woodward's I had previously read was All the President's Men. Based on that, I expected this to be an exposé on the hidden reasons behind Bush's decision to invade Iraq, as well as a catalogue of all the things that he did wrong. What I found instead, was a narrative that at times was difficult to follow. Although the title and the penultimate sentence of the book refer to a denial of the truth about the Iraq War, I found it I find this book somewhat difficult to evaluate. The only other book of Woodward's I had previously read was All the President's Men. Based on that, I expected this to be an exposé on the hidden reasons behind Bush's decision to invade Iraq, as well as a catalogue of all the things that he did wrong. What I found instead, was a narrative that at times was difficult to follow. Although the title and the penultimate sentence of the book refer to a denial of the truth about the Iraq War, I found it somewhat difficult to substantiate that assessment given the evidence presented. Nor was there a great deal of evidence that Dick Cheney was the emperor behind the puppet, so to speak. In fact, the true antagonist of the book appears to be Don Rumsfeld, presented here as being an egotistical, micromanaging tyrant whose personal neuroses single-handedly overturned the entire post-war period from what might have been a successful endeavor to a morass of entanglement with no end in sight. Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell appear to be the two senior members of the administration who have a sense of what needs to be done, although the latter is portrayed as having been unfairly pushed out of power by an increasingly incompetent cadre of other senior leaders. Throughout the book, George Bush seems to have two major influences on the war. The first being his embarrassment that his father had not finished the job by marching to Baghdad when he had the chance. This embarrassment seems to be one of the driving reasons for the invasion, according to this portrayal. The second of Bush's roles in the war seems, here, to have been his complete lack of interest in the conduct of the war once he declared victory. This lack of interest is, in turn, what led Rumsfeld to have so much power. While I am not a fan of George W. Bush, or Dick Cheney, or Don Rumsfeld, and while I do believe they led us unjustly and unrightly into a war we had no business fighting, I do not find the evidence presented in this book to be convincing that the major players were as one-sided and shallow as they seem to be. And while I do find Woodward's final assessment that "With all Bush's upbeat talk and optimism, he had not told the American public the truth about what Iraq had become." to be believable, I do not feel he did a good enough job at tying all the threads together in this book. Overall, this book is informative, but not one that appears to hold up to scrutiny of the logical deductions made in it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bill Manzi

    After having read the Isikoff book Hubris I re-read this book, which I had originally purchased when it came out many years ago. Woodward has the whole cast of characters, from Rumseld, to Cheney, to L. Paul Bremer to George W. Bush himself. The book compliments the Isikoff effort, for me, because it takes a more detailed look at the incompetence and failure of the Bush Administration effort post war in Iraq. And that incompetence is staggering, with bad decisions piled upon bad decisions, with After having read the Isikoff book Hubris I re-read this book, which I had originally purchased when it came out many years ago. Woodward has the whole cast of characters, from Rumseld, to Cheney, to L. Paul Bremer to George W. Bush himself. The book compliments the Isikoff effort, for me, because it takes a more detailed look at the incompetence and failure of the Bush Administration effort post war in Iraq. And that incompetence is staggering, with bad decisions piled upon bad decisions, with no clear managerial line of authority established. For an administration run by someone with a Harvard MBA the managerial incompetence was astounding. Woodward did not come to this book as a partisan set against the war, but as someone who been considered fair to the Administration in two prior Bush at War books. Woodward focuses in on Rumsfeld like a laser, and that focus does not put "Rummy" in a very good light. It does show Rumsfeld as a terrific bureaucratic infighter, with a penchant for removing his fingerprints from failure, and shifting blame elsewhere. Despite that skill, and a powerful, forceful personality, Rumsfeld cannot evade the harsh judgement of history. His failures of policy, his relentless bullying and cowing of the top echelon of the military, his ignorant assessment of what would be needed to stabilize post Saddam Iraq, all contributed to the disaster that unfolded after the U.S. Military ousted Hussein. Cheney, a close Rumsfeld ally, is shown to be just as wrong in key assessments made about how to proceed in post war Iraq. At the top of the pyramid was President George W. Bush. Woodward reaches the conclusion that most do on the question of George W. Bush. He was intellectually lazy, had pre-determined notions of how to proceed on Iraq that could not be changed by facts on the ground, and once the war was won simply bungled the job of winning the peace. Hubris dealt with the geopolitical ignorance that lead us into war. This book gives us the post war incompetence of the George W. Bush administration, and how that incompetence resulted in mission failure. The Iraq debacle hangs over us to this very day, with President Barack Obama calling opponents of the Iran nuclear treaty the same group that led us into war in Iraq. The neighborhood has not been the same since the war, and the changes have not served the interests of the United States very well.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Mckay

    State of Denial is not a book about the Iraq war. It is a book about the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war. Woodward uses his legendary though diminished access to the presidency to paint a picture of the Whitehouse that was disorganized, divided, and ultimately dysfunctional. Rather than pursue a general thesis condemning the administration, Woodward takes a chronological narrative style focusing on characters and interactions which serves to provide an interesting angle. This focu State of Denial is not a book about the Iraq war. It is a book about the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war. Woodward uses his legendary though diminished access to the presidency to paint a picture of the Whitehouse that was disorganized, divided, and ultimately dysfunctional. Rather than pursue a general thesis condemning the administration, Woodward takes a chronological narrative style focusing on characters and interactions which serves to provide an interesting angle. This focus allows for true gems to come out, like the trepidations of W’s family or Whitehouse humor such as this example this conversation between Bush and Jay Garner: On the way out, Bush slapped Garner on the back. “Hey wanna do Iran” “Sir, the boys and I talked wand we want to hold out for Cuba. We think the rum and cigars are a little better, and the women are a little prettier” Bush laughed “You got it, you got Cuba” Pg. 224 Woodward also tries to let the story tell itself as much as possible. The few examples of author commentary usually come refuting statements made by Rumsfield, and only in the form of different interviewees that disagreed. This refrain is a refreshing step back from authors with blatant agendas. The style can be frustrating at times as this book does not attempt provide a complete picture of the Iraq war. Woodward only talks about key figures such as Nuri al Maliki only through the lenses of those like Condollezza Rice, and key events such as Abu-Gharib or Samarra receive no more than a paragraph of coverage. In the end, the quality of the work on the administration more than outweighs the books shortcomings, and should be on the must read list of anybody looking to further understand the administration or the war in Iraq.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I found this book really interesting on a couple levels. The first was just how it exposed the monumental task of preparing for a war. It was amazing to think about all these really intelligent people putting in a tremendous effort to make their little piece of something happen. It kind of reminds me of how I feel about a drag line, used for stripmining and mountaintop removal. I marvel at the machinery even while I abhor what it does. It was also interesting just to have some insight into the p I found this book really interesting on a couple levels. The first was just how it exposed the monumental task of preparing for a war. It was amazing to think about all these really intelligent people putting in a tremendous effort to make their little piece of something happen. It kind of reminds me of how I feel about a drag line, used for stripmining and mountaintop removal. I marvel at the machinery even while I abhor what it does. It was also interesting just to have some insight into the personalities involved in the US's invasion and occupation of Iraq. The book really made you feel like you knew some of the players and what they were thinking... sort of like the West Wing. I what I didn't like about the book is it is laid out like a narrative, with no analysis. What analysis there is, focuses on personalities and even then doesn't draw conclusions. When I finished the book I had no more clear understanding about why of the invasion and occupation of Iraq than before. The way the book unfolds, is actually pretty disempowering, because there is such an inevitability about it. It is like a Greek tragedy, accept there is no lesson one can glean from it. I needed Woodward to do better than laying out a narrative about a star crossed administration, whose blunders have cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Bob give me something to work with! Note: Gen Sanchez now has a book out. Here is a link to the a Fresh Air interview with him. http://thin.npr.org/p.php?pid=13&... Note: So far much of this book seems to be a criticism of Rumsfeld as Sec. of DOD. Here is a article about a Rumsfeld decision. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080510/a...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    Four stars, only for the incredible access Woodward had to key players and his examination of the internal mis-management of the war in Iraq, particularly at the Pentagon. The title of the book would more accurately be Rumsfeld at War, although Donald Rumsfeld is not the only person to be revealed by highly placed sources as an incompetent leader and manager. Overall, the book is hampered by its lack of conclusiveness. Its timeline ends before Rumsfeld was sacked after the 2006 Congressional ele Four stars, only for the incredible access Woodward had to key players and his examination of the internal mis-management of the war in Iraq, particularly at the Pentagon. The title of the book would more accurately be Rumsfeld at War, although Donald Rumsfeld is not the only person to be revealed by highly placed sources as an incompetent leader and manager. Overall, the book is hampered by its lack of conclusiveness. Its timeline ends before Rumsfeld was sacked after the 2006 Congressional elections and long before the end of the war, which is far from over. The book ends because Woodward's access to the players he profiles ends, as Woodward himself admits. Woodward's war exists as seen through the prism of high level Washington: a bureaucracy at war measuring success by the headlines in domestic newspapers. Although it is understandable why Woodward chooses this focus (it's Part III of a series on the President) the book suffers from this emphasis. It is not grounded enough on Iraq itself, on policy and results, with the exception of the hunt for WMDs. It is a book of reported conversations between major actors and their perspectives, running light on analysis or insights on motivations. The key actors in the White House are absent apart from Andy Card, and finally, the book only skims the surface when it comes to Colin Powell and Condi Rice, with his State and National Security sources deflecting most of their discussion to difficulties with Rumsfeld. Despite these flaws, the book is a valuable examination of management and military failure, of abdication of responsibility and yes, denial.

  28. 5 out of 5

    James Hatton

    Book 3 of 3 on the subject of the Bush administration's response to September 11, 2001, and the "global war on terror". September 11, 2001, actually began two days earlier when Al Qaeda operatives assassinated a key American ally, Ahmad Shah Massoud, the "Lion of Panjshir". That was in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, by then. Their allies, the Taliban, were in Afghanistan. The initial U.S. response to 9/11 was in Afghanistan, against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But then, Iraq. Why Iraq? W Book 3 of 3 on the subject of the Bush administration's response to September 11, 2001, and the "global war on terror". September 11, 2001, actually began two days earlier when Al Qaeda operatives assassinated a key American ally, Ahmad Shah Massoud, the "Lion of Panjshir". That was in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, by then. Their allies, the Taliban, were in Afghanistan. The initial U.S. response to 9/11 was in Afghanistan, against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But then, Iraq. Why Iraq? What happened that the U.S. ended up in Iraq? Bob Woodward has compiled three books that delve deeply into the U.S. government's operation between 9/11 and the time of the third book's publication, in 2006. They provide his analysis of the operations of the U.S. government during that time, as it pertains to the "global war on terror". My sense of the Woodward's approach to the people involved, and their actions, is one of fairness; forthright, but fair. Woodward is very detailed in this series of books. I recommend them. I read these three books after reading many other books on the "global war on terror", and the Bush administration. I came away from my readings with a different understanding of President Bush and his administration. Being the U.S. president, and working for the U.S. president, is like juggling, while wing-walking, in bad weather, without a safety harness. It's a tough, tricky job. President Bush did not do it that badly. I did not vote for him, nor would I if he ran today. But I disagree that President Bush was a bad president. He did pretty good at a tough job, even if he did some things wrong. Time will tell.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    A sense of foreboding sets in in the very first pages covering the beginning of the Bush administration, where the Bush and Rumsfield desire for military 'transformation' is mentioned repeatedly. Transformation for them meant a lighter-faster-cheaper military, and it's fortunate that fully implementing it would take decades rather than achieved over night. But, as this book tells, they would get to test some of their ideas during the occupation of Iraq. Early analyses showed the need for about 4 A sense of foreboding sets in in the very first pages covering the beginning of the Bush administration, where the Bush and Rumsfield desire for military 'transformation' is mentioned repeatedly. Transformation for them meant a lighter-faster-cheaper military, and it's fortunate that fully implementing it would take decades rather than achieved over night. But, as this book tells, they would get to test some of their ideas during the occupation of Iraq. Early analyses showed the need for about 400,000 troops to occupy Iraq, and that number was slashed downwards by fiat to make the war more economical. I'm sure another book I'll get to soon will go into more details on the 'lighter' aspect, which meant a shortage of body armor and relying on vulnerable Humvees for transpor. The book ends with an prophetic quote from an a presidential advisor who calls the 2006 congressional election, saying that the issue could be framed successfully in these terms: Democrats supported the cause of the war, but it was handled by incompetent Republicans who have to be thrown out of office. Without looking it up I don't know whether this book was published before Rumsfield was replaced, if it was it probably helped the case against him enormously.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hank

    State of Denial is Bob Woodward's illustration of the breakdown of the cooperation between NSC members in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. The most stark pieces of the book show how President Bush seemed to be insulated from bad news, and then when it came he would seemingly pivot back to his sense of optimism about the ultimate outcome in Iraq. As the insurgency gained steam in 2006, the White House seemed to be on a frantic search for a political solution in a country that did not have a s State of Denial is Bob Woodward's illustration of the breakdown of the cooperation between NSC members in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. The most stark pieces of the book show how President Bush seemed to be insulated from bad news, and then when it came he would seemingly pivot back to his sense of optimism about the ultimate outcome in Iraq. As the insurgency gained steam in 2006, the White House seemed to be on a frantic search for a political solution in a country that did not have a security environment capable of supporting a government. The book (as with the first two in the series) paints Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld in an unfavorable light. A skilled bureaucratic infighter, Rumsfeld proves effective at dodging responsibility for failures on the various strategy fronts and keeping a tight grip on control despite the mounting problems in CENTCOM theater. Woodward also does a good job of chronicling the exit of DCI George Tenet, the replacement of Colin Powell with Condoleezza Rice at the State Department, and the agonizing decision to replace Andy Card as Chief of Staff. As usual, Woodward's style is readily approachable, and the narrative moves quickly from one scene to another.

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