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Obama's Wars Hardcover – 28 Sep 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (28 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857200445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857200440
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.1 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 333,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'If any writer is entitled to an opinion on the war in Afghanistan, it is Bob Woodward . . . Impeccably unbiased and utterly non-judgemental'
--Daily Telegraph

'Feuding, fighting, bickering, backstabbing - Bob Woodward's scoop offers intimate details . . . gripping stuff' --Christina Lamb, Sunday Times

'[Woodward's] books on the Bush administration have been definitive, and now he has provided a similar account of the Obama administration's handling of the war in Afghanistan' --Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

'Compelling . . . There is comedy in this book as well as high drama. But the stakes are deadly serious' --Sarah Sands, Evening Standard

'As a chronicler of American politics, Bob Woodward needs no introduction'
--Richard Adams, Guardian

'[A] compellingly readable book, which exposes the divided and uncertain counsels at the heart of the Obama Administration' --Andrew Roberts, Daily Mail

'In another of his superbly reported insider accounts, Bob Woodward recounts how a new president may have embroiled himself in a war that could poison his presidency' --Neil Sheehan, Guardian

'A vivid picture of Obama as president emerges from these pages'
--Denis Staunton, Irish Times

'An invaluable guide to the political processes behind modern warfare' --Prospect 12/10

About the Author

Bob Woodward is Assistant Managing Editor at THE WASHINGTON POST. His Pulitzer Prize-winning Watergate reporting is said to have set the standard for modern investigative reporting. Over the last 22 years he has authored or co-authored seven #1 internationally bestselling books.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Diacha on 10 Oct 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "Obama's Wars," uber-journalist Bob Woodward extends his fly-on-the-wall coverage of President Bush's Iraq campaign to the new administration's decision-making on Afghanistan. It makes for fascinating reading.

During his campaign, Barack Obama had promised to withdraw from Iraq and concentrate on winning the real war in Afghanistan. Shortly after taking office he approved an increase in troop strength by 21,000 soldiers. Not long afterwards, the defense establishment came back to request considerably more - a "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" moment for the new president. He decided to chair personally a thorough review of the war's goals and options.

Woodward's reconstructive journalism is by now familiar to us. By leveraging his unparalleled access, he conducted extensive interviews with the virtually all the main actors - even President Obama granted him an audience - and perused numerous classified documents. From these sources he has recreated a blow-by-blow account of events in almost real time. He offers very little critical analysis or commentary of his own, but he has produced a gripping narrative that makes his readers feel as though are locked in the Situation Room with the principals as they agonize their way towards a decision.

The room was filled with Big Egos. These were all highly able and patriotic men and (in the case of Secretary Clinton) women, but they were far from constituting an effective decision-making body. There were clear dividing lines between the military and the political staffers, "the Water bugs," as General Jones the then National Security Advisor derisively termed them. Within the military establishment, too, there was a broad range of differing viewpoints.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on 4 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
The war in Afghanistan has brought only problems without solutions - safe havens for al-Qaeda in Pakistan, government corruption, drug-running, and the failures of the Afghan army and police.

As US General David Petraeus said, the Afghan government `is a criminal syndicate'. Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, admitted, "Our presence is the corrupting force." As long as Afghan society does not change, its corrupt institutions can't change. Whether Afghanistan achieves development and democracy is up to the Afghan people. Outsiders can never bring either.

NATO aimed to defeat the Taliban through counter-insurgency war, but this would require another 100,000 US troops. President Obama has rejected this option.

The Taliban do not advocate attacks outside Afghanistan. We should negotiate with them, to isolate and defeat al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is the real threat to Britain, not the Taliban, so we should focus on stopping al-Qaeda carrying out terrorist acts here in Britain.

NATO has had the wrong strategy, so it uses the wrong tactics. Less than one per cent of the Afghan people live in Helmand, yet 12 per cent of US troops are there. NATO forces are bombing Afghanistan every day (ignored by our media), but as Woodward points out, "The great lesson of World War II and Vietnam was that attacks from the air, even massive bombings, can't win a war." Drone attacks in Pakistan will not win the war in Afghanistan (nor will air warfare alone win in Libya).

Some US generals and politicians set conditions for withdrawal, but if withdrawal depends on achieving development and democracy there, the troops will stay forever.

Some say, if we pull out, our soldiers will have died in vain.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nick103 on 2 Jan 2011
Format: Hardcover
I would strongly recommend this book. It offers a fascinating insight into the inner White House discussions regarding the war in Afghanistan. Woodward has incredible access to high level sources; indeed Obama is only half-joking when he comments that Woodward would make an excellent "Head of DNI". What I found so interesting, but also disturbing is the sense that Obama, like few other Presidents is able to grapple with the complexities of this war and understand its ultimate futility and disturbing parallels to Vietnam, he is clearly persuaded by many of Vice President Biden's arguments against further increases in troops, and yet... despite fighting his corner, and holding innumerable roundtable discussion where the hopelessness of the Afghanistan war is exposed he ultimately agrees to 30,000 more troops being sent to Afghanistan. And what is so revealing in the book is the sense that despite being the President and Commander in Chief of the mightiest military on the planet, Obama is boxed into a policy set by the Pentagon.

Read this book to get a better idea of the Obama presidency and the man himself who I think generally comes out of it well (he does reject some of the militaries more outlandish requests), and also to understand the dreadful policy predicament that America and Nato has got itself into in Afghanistan. Forget the tittle-tattle of Wikileaks, this is the book to read....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Veera Senthil on 19 Nov 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book doesn't have any great "insight" into the decision making analysis - just list of people who make them. Almost all of this information is available in NYT and WP. The turf wars made me feel my project team is better organised - though we deal with something infinitely less important.

This book is a giant minutes of meetings - gets tedious and repetitive. The biggest surprise was that General P (the future President) believes Pakistani safe heavens are an irritant, but not the key !!!!

Otherwise book is well presented. Fast read.
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