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Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency Hardcover – 5 Jun 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH); 1 edition (5 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547547897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547547893
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 923,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Geoff on 13 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent, very interesting read. It lives up to a positive review in the New York Review of Books.It explains how President Obama has been severley constrained by domestic political pressures from pursuing his stated aim of closing the Guantanomo Prison, and trying alleged terroists in civilian courts.Basically,his advisers warned him not to allow any political conflict about these issues, from the Republicans, or the relatives of 9/11 victims, to adversley affect his central policies concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and the Health Care reform. These concerns also constrained the liberal wishes of the Attorney General,Eric Holder. The book appears to be based on accurate resources and, whilst critical of Obama's indecisiveness, and detached demeanour, it explains why theory is indeed easier than practice, and that Obama has not broken his simply because he is a liar or an hypocrit. The book also has the virtue of being short,272 pages, and well written. Definitely recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
The "War on Terror" and in the White House 6 July 2012
By David Keppel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Those reading Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power will also want to read Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency. It is the story of how Obama ultimately adopted a national security policy far different from the one most of his supporters expected. In particular, it's the story of how Obama ultimately abandoned his original vow to try terrorists in civilian court and how he turned more and more to drone strikes, which leave a corpse, not a prisoner. Are we killing because we don't know what to do with prisoners? Klaidman does not flatly answer this question, nor does he editorialize on drone strikes, which have indeed killed suspected terrorists, including an American citizen, without due process, have also caused civilian deaths, and have stirred intense anger in Pakistan and Yemen, possibly recruiting new terrorists.

One of the values of this book is that it shows Obama's policy emerging -- as often happens in Washington -- from intense infighting in the Obama administration. Central is the conflict between the principled Attorney General, Eric Holder, and the hawkish and cynical Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel. Under intense pressure from Congress and buffeted by events (including the attempted Christmas 2010 "underwear bombing" on a flight approaching Detroit), Obama chooses expediency, partly under this duress, partly because he himself has more than a streak of it.

Klaidman writes a fast-paced journalistic narrative, which only occasionally slows down for analysis. For a closer look at the issues in drone strikes, see Drone Warfare.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Obama's Dark Side 19 Dec. 2012
By Brentr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the best account of Obama's national security policy decision-making that I have read. Like Jane Mayer's "The DarkSide", it is both highly informative and ultimately discouraging...I could only read about ten pages at a time before taking a time out to think about something more optimistic. It is sobering that even someone with the training of a constitutional law professor and the progressive instincts of President Obama can fall prey to the so-called imperatives of national security and be lured into unconstitutional use of drones strikes and limitless detainment. We live in a dangerous world, to state the obvious. But adherence to our constitutional principles is the only thing that can keep us safe in the long run.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Exemplary journalism 16 Oct. 2012
By Samuel Gorovitz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This meticulously researched and timely book exemplifies the highest standards of investigative journalism. It makes no compromises in its rigorous pursuit of the truth, and displays with subtlety and insight the searing tensions involved in trying to balance national security responsibilities with other comparably important values. It is lucid and devoid of bias and oversimplification.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great source of information 4 Sept. 2012
By flyohiou - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those interested to learn the politics within the federal government's actions and attitudes surrounding Gitmo and the fight against terrorism during the Obama Administration, there is no better summation and resource. A great reference to anyone who enjoys Political Science.

Compared to the newspapers coverage on the topic, this book deserves 5-stars for its educational value. However, out of respect for political current event books in general, I can only give it 4-stars.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Good Read 28 July 2012
By G. Leslie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found all the behind-the-scenes information very instructive. If what Mr. Klaidman puts forth is true, it appears that the "NIMBY" attitude of the States and Congress is more responsible for the apparent shift in policy on terrorism (and increase in drone use) than the President's supposed inconsistency.
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