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Bush at War (Bush at War Part 1) [Paperback]

Bob Woodward
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 July 2003 Bush at War Part 1
With his unmatched investigative skill, Bob Woodward tells the behind-the-scenes story of how President George W. Bush and his top national security advisers led the nation to war. Extensive quotations from the secret deliberations of the National Security Council and firsthand revelations of the private thoughts, concerns and fears of the president and his war cabinet, make BUSH AT WAR an unprecedented chronicle of a modern presidency in a time of grave crisis. Based on interviews with more than a hundred sources and four hours of exclusive interviews with the president, BUSH AT WAR reveals Bush's sweeping, almost grandiose vision for remaking the world. Woodward's virtual wiretap into the White House Situation Room reveals a stunning group portrait of an untested president and his advisers, three of whom might themselves have made it to the presidency. In BUSH AT WAR, Bob Woodward once again delivers a reporting tour de force.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; 2nd Revised edition edition (7 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074346107X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743461078
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 427,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Bush at War focuses on the three months following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, during which the US prepared for war in Afghanistan, took steps toward a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, intensified homeland defence and began a well-funded CIA covert war against terrorism around the world. The narrative is classic Woodward: using his inside access to the major players, he offers an almost day-by-day account of the decision-making processes and power battles behind the headlines. Woodward's information is based on tape-recorded interviews of over a hundred sources (some unnamed), including four hours of exclusive interviews with the president, along with notes from cabinet meetings and access to some classified reports.

Woodward's analysis of President Bush's leadership style is especially fascinating. A self-described "gut player" who relies heavily on instinct, Bush comes across as a man of action continually pressing his cabinet for concrete results. The revelation that the president developed and publicly stated the so-called Bush Doctrine--the policy that the US would not only go after terrorists everywhere but also those governments or groups that harbour them--without first consulting Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell or Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is particularly telling. Other principals are examined with equal scrutiny. Though National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice emerges as soft-spoken and even tentative during group meetings, it becomes clear that Bush is dependent on her for candid advice as well as for conveying his thoughts to his cabinet. The relationship between Powell and Rumsfeld (and to a lesser degree Powell and Cheney) is often strained, exposing their differences regarding how to deal with Iraq and whether coalition building or unilateralism is most appropriate. Woodward also describes how CIA director George Tenet prepared a paramilitary team to infiltrate Afghanistan to set the groundwork for invasion, and how this ushered in a new era of cooperation between the defence department and the CIA. A worthwhile and often enlightening read, this is a revealing and informative first draft of the Bush legacy. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


'A gripping read' -- Robert, McCrum, Observer

'An exceptional account of an exceptional period...the most important book that Woodward has written.' -- The Times

'[Bush at War] is to prose what film noir is to cinema: a work of spareness and authority' -- The Washington Post

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, absorbing account 17 Oct 2004
By A Customer
Bob Woodward has made a name for himself over the years as the reporter who gets the inside track - the toppling of Nixon, in the 1990s some great insight into the Clinton White House, and now two books which give very considerable detail into the decision processes employed by George W Bush. Whilst the later book "Plan of Attack" analyses the steps leading to the 2003 Iraq war, its sister account "Bush at War" details the efforts taken after 9/11 to deal with international terror. As ever with a Woodward book, the pace of the narrative is fast, like a gripping novel in many places, and his access to detailed intelligence (including some classified material) is top-notch. I really liked this book and would heartily recommend it to anyone interested in contemporary politics/history, but I do have two fairly minor gripes (which make it a 4 star rating rather than 5). One, I dislike Woodward's occasional use of profanity in the text - and I don't mean in reported speech, where it's fine by me, but in the narrative where Woodward uses it himself, for emphasis. It's unnecessary - English is a rich enough language, and Woodward an intelligent enough man, not to require the book to be drawn down to the level of a barroom rant. Two, the description in the book of the NYPD deputy chief Charles "Chuck" Zito lacks depth and could have been drawn out a little. Zito took a leading role in the 9/11 investigation and his trip to LA to piece together information about the hijackings could have been more detailed in the book, particularly in respect of his contacts with the thinker and writer Fintan O. Kennedy, which have been excellently documented elsewhere. Those minor quibbles aside, however, this is a great book which is well worth a read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unbias insight into the Bush administration 17 Nov 2004
This book is almost like a diary of the day to day events leading upto and during the Afghanistan War (not the current Iraq war). It is very informative and the author obviously had close contact with the Bush administration. Don't expect it to be written like an expose - it is not written in a controversial manner, instead it invites the reader to draw their own conclusions. It is about as unbias as you're going to get in any review of Bush's whitehouse.
The book also discusses Bush's senior advisors, the role they played and their relationships with one another and Bush - especially interesting in light of Powell's recent resignation.
A truly informative and throughly well researched book. However, the book sometimes gets bogged down in a 'he said this and then she said that' type of narrative.
Recommended to those who want an insight into the Afghanistan conflict but not for those who want discussion on the reasons for and against the conflict.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A failure of imagination 24 July 2004
By A Customer
There are some real gems in this book such as George Tenet's comment just minutes after he heard about the attacks on the Twin Towers. "I wonder if it has anything to do with this guy taking pilot training," referring to Zacarias Moussaoui. I know hindsight can be misleading but that sounds very bad. Woodward's sources are impeccable and the narrative is engrossing.
What it does illustrates is how much both Bush and the American people were let down by the institutional incompetence of numerous agencies. Tenet's advice to Bush in the following book by Woodward, 'Plan of Attack'. simply illustrates just how useless Tenet was. After Bush questioned the CIA evidence of Saddam's WMD capabilities in terms of, "I don't imagine Joe Public being impressed by this evidence." Tenet replied, "Mr President, it's a slam dunk." OOOpps!
Bush comes out of both of these books relatively well. Some have suggested that the incredible accesss which Woodward was afforded to the President and his National Security Team may have compromised his journalistic integrity. What utter nonsense! The man who helped bring down Richard Nixon is certainly the best person possible to chronicle this extraordinary period in American history. If Woodward is a Republican then I'm a Banana.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a movie about Wyatt Earp 6 Jan 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What I enjoyed most about this book was the study of the characters of the main protagonists, especially Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice and Armitage. Cheney does not actually come into it that much - Woodward's earlier book 'The Commanders' is much more revealing on Cheney. Bush himself seems to govern by vibes - he doesn't direct his colleagues as his father and Clinton did and from time to time 'mum' Rice has to point out to him that he needs to take corrective action as the ship of state is in danger of veering off course. This is not to say however that Bush doesn't have a clear sense of direction, its just that his skills at turning that into practice are not that finely honed, perhaps partly because the sense of direction itself derives from some kind of philosophical (neocon?) vision which is a bit mystical in my opinion. Woodward doesn't get into that area however, but gives us a clear picture of how it pans out from day to day, and we get at times vivid picture of the interplay between the main characters.
Clearly it was quite a chaotic time and the difficulties of constructing a coherent plan at a time of crisis are well documented. Woodward does not try to analyse the thinking behind it all - although he does quote at length from interviews with Bush held after the events - but just tells it as it happened, basing his account on many interviews, usually with unnamed participants.
The preoccupation of Rumsfeld and others with Iraq in the days after 9/11 is interesting, but you will have to read a lot wider than this book to figure out the reasons for that. What you will get here is some great rows between Rumsfeld and Powell and a sense of the motivation of the main parties. Somehow the whole thing has the atmosphere of Wyatt Earp and the OK corral.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Reader's Digest Lite on 9/11
The obliteration of the Twin Towers was signal. The site might have been cleaned up but the dust and debris are still settling. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Bernard Michael O'Hanlon
5.0 out of 5 stars Bush At Work
I enjoyed reading 'Bush At War'. Bob Woodward had unique 'inside' access and this means that we see how the decisions were taken, and what went wrong. Read more
Published 24 months ago by T. T. Rogers
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written insight into how the US Presidency worked post-911
This book is a well written insight how things functioned immediately before, and straight after 11th September 2011 when the USA planned to retaliate against Al Qaeda and the... Read more
Published on 13 Aug 2012 by MasterOfNinja
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written story
A well written tale, by a seasoned journalist. This tells the detailed story of the major US players, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Read more
Published on 25 Jun 2012 by Mr. Roger Eden
3.0 out of 5 stars Bush at War
Must admit, i never finished this book.

It got so repetative, i eventually got bored.

A plus side is that it really gave a good insight of how things are delt... Read more
Published on 20 Jan 2010 by Matt 'the bear'
4.0 out of 5 stars A revealing insider's account drawing punches with velvet gloves
Publisher: Thorndike Press, ISBN: 0786252642

Many commentators in the US media, and not least the conservative stalwarts like the Wall Street Journal Europe, have vented... Read more
Published on 16 May 2008 by Kurt Steiner
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative
This follows what happened inside the White House and amongst the principle players in the first 100 days after 9/11 and as such offers some fascinating insights and adds credence... Read more
Published on 12 April 2008 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest American journalists and historians opens his...
This is the first of Bob Woodward's trilogy examining George W Bush and Co. at war and deals with the 100 days following 9/11. Read more
Published on 28 Feb 2008 by Philip Mayo
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Knowledge!
This detailed account sometimes reads with the inside perspective of a Tom Clancy thriller. Famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward's "fly on the wall" story relies on detailed... Read more
Published on 1 Mar 2004 by Rolf Dobelli
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