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Obama's Wars Woodward, Bob ( Author ) May-03-2011 Paperback [Paperback]

Bob Woodward
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (3 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184983220X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849832205
  • ASIN: B005Q5QXZU
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Hours after his election as the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama learned details of the top-secret circumstances that defined the Afghanistan conflict, a war characterized by inadequate resources, incomplete planning, inchoate strategy and ongoing bloodshed. Bob Woodward of The Washington Post applied his legendary reporting skills to reams of meeting notes, classified reports and interviews to recreate the often tempestuous policy making on Afghanistan that marked Obama's first 18 months in office. Woodward's trip to Afghanistan and his unfettered access to top officials in more than 100 interviews, including more than an hour with the president, put you at the center of marathon meetings, disputes and discussions peopled by contrasting personalities and their shifting allegiances. getAbstract recommends this masterful work of reporting, an engrossing book on how the US is managing a war "with no good options."
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  206 reviews
252 of 284 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Run, Don't Walk to get this Book - Woodward pens another Important Best Seller!!! 30 Sep 2010
By Richad of Connecticut - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In the author's personal note to this book, Bob Woodward thanks his assistant Josh Bock with words of such kindness that I was completely taken aback by the grace that this man possesses. Many writers wouldn't take the time, or interest to be so encouraging to someone else.

Woodward's writing has the poet's touch. It is elegant, straightforward, and of such compelling interest that this book like many others he has written, is a page turner. You start it, and you just keep going until you are finished.

First we must discuss his sources and methods. This author doesn't publish unless he has confirmation of what he is being told by an additional 3rd party. His interviews are recorded, transcribed and then checked for errors. He sometimes revisits the same interviewee 4 or 5 times. He works with notes, documents and recollections.

Although a person being interviewed may request that it be background only, once Woodward gets the same story from another independent source, the story is no longer background. Many people have talked to Woodward on the basis of background in an effort to remain anonymous, and control him. It just doesn't remain that way. You are not going to fool this man.

When you read Obama's Wars, you realize that you can't obtain this much great information if you read a year's worth of the New York Times. You are getting the real deal here, and you don't get it anywhere else. Let me illustrate:

* When meeting President Bush's intelligence officer and hearing what he had to say prior to the election, then Senator Obama responds that he was worried about losing this election, now he's worried about winning the election with the information he is being told.

* Woodward confirms for us that Pakistani intelligence, the so called ISI has been giving aide to the Taliban, while taking $2 billion a year in cash from us.

* During the first half of 2008, the US made only 4 Predator strikes in Pakistan. Pakistan made the US warn the ISI ahead of time before a strike could be made. The ISI in turn would warn the Taliban and the bad guys would head for the hills prior to the strike. Once American got wise to the setup, we only gave the ISI simultaneous warning, and frankly we waited until the Predator was ready to fire its missiles before giving that warning. Where are you going to get information like this? I don't see it in the Washington Post, and certainly not the NY Times.

* President Obama was informed that 35 countries do not require Visas prior to coming to the United States. Terrorists are now coming to the US through those countries and forming cells. Our worst nightmare may be yet to come.

* Iran will have a gun-type nuclear weapon between 2013 and 2015 which will be demonstrated in the desert. Saudi Arabia will immediately notify Pakistan that you help us develop a nuclear weapon, or we cut off oil supplies to your country.

* Then Senator Obama was the victim of a cyber attack on his campaign by the Chinese government that copied his documents and files. The greater danger was what would happen if they destroyed the files as opposed to just copying them. The same thing happened to Senator McCain and his campaign.

* But Wait - there's more. Senator Obama was then told that every day both the Bank of NY and Citibank handle $3 trillion a day in funds transfers, whereas the entire economy is equal to $14 trillion in gross domestic product. Other countries now have the capability to interfere with those transactions through cyber war. The resulting financial chaos would be exponentially worse than the World Trade Center destruction. We do not have a cyber defense yet.

Woodward is at his best when discussing personalities. His discussion of Hillary Clinton's reluctance, then refusal and finally acceptance of the Cabinet position of Secretary of State is absolutely fascinating. Senator Clinton did not want the position, but Senator Obama's people sensed the door was still opened, so they told her to sleep on it over night. During the night Senator Clinton consulted Mark Penn, the Clinton pollster who basically asked her if she was crazy. Take it, "you will have an unmatched record of public service." He also reminded her that you are weak on foreign policy and national security, and now you will have absolute bonafides in both, and it didn't hurt that you she will finally show independence from her husband.

Yes, there's Richard Holbrooke the egotist, and General Petraeus comes through looking great. No one lays a glove on the General. The Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gets very high marks in the book. Over and over again, when you read Woodward, you recognize that the story you are reading is not something that is covered anywhere else. You are a part of the decision making process. You are involved. You know who makes sense and who doesn't, who's brilliant, and who's all talk, and no show.

I have given you pieces here and pieces there, a flavoring of a giant ice cream Sundae. Every page has a great story, and there is nothing superfluous in this great read. This book gets five stars. If you love politics, a good story, history, and reading what a great author operating at the peak of his powers can do, read Obama's Wars, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard C. Stoyeck
80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review of the Book itself, not the characters it portrays 29 Sep 2010
By Writing Historian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Woodward has crafted one of his best books yet. This book is informative and well researched. As you read it, you cannot help but realize WHY certain news stories appeared at specific times. The debate about troop numbers is captured in a clear and concise manner, yet you will shake your head as to why it had to take place in such a public forum. Woodward's portrayal of GEN McChrystal is especially useful given the bad press surrounding his departure. An insiders viewpoint of events that most of us at the time had to rely on the media to learn about. Woodward does a fine job counteracting a lot of the Washington Spin by providing unparalleled insight behind the scenes.

For those wondering if "Obamas Wars" covers both Iraq and Afghanistan, I would opine that it does not. Obama arguably inherited a war and a drawdown when he took office. As I read the book, I felt that the use of "wars" plural referred to the ongoing Afghanistan conflict, the "war" within the White House over what policy to back, the "war" within the Department of Defense over what military options to exercise, the "war" between US foreign policy and domestic political concerns as the latter seemed more important to Democrats while Republicans preferred to emphasize the former, and the "war" - percieved or not - between military and civilian authorities, in this case a President who did not feel as if his wishes were being carried out to the letter. The book ends in July 2010 around the time when Woodward interviewed President Obama.
53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enquiring Minds Want To Know 2 Oct 2010
By Cory Geurts - Published on Amazon.com
Woodward's latest book presents a treasure trove of information about a young presidency still in progress. Yes, it's too early for a comprehensive history or evaluation of the Obama administration, and that's not what this book purports to be. The focus of this book is the first 18 months, beginning with many of the discussions that took place while Obama was President-elect. As the title suggests, this book covers the decisions behind the war in Afghanistan and the related al Qaeda and Taliban activity into Pakistan. A September 22, 2010 Washington Post article also suggested another meaning for "war" in this book's title is the conflict among the president's national security team. Woodward has done his homework, and the results are marvelous.

Reading this book is quite educational. Woodward incorporates many characters into this book, including some that are probably unknown to those who don't regularly follow the news. Prior to reading this book I wasn't aware of the extent of Biden's influence, and I didn't fully understand the gravity of the Mumbai bombings or exactly how important Pakistan is to the war on terror. This book gave me a much better understanding of both the similarities and differences between al Qaeda and the Taliban, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and between Karzai and Zardari.

For those who have read recent Woodward best-sellers such as "State of Denial" or "The War Within," the feel of this book will be familiar. His writing style is far from elegant prose. Some passages are borderline robotic; this is often due to directly paraphrasing or selectively quoting sources.

Woodward successfully avoids any partisan slant, despite what some other reviewers have implied. The amount of information Woodward has here is amazing. As time goes by we will have a much more complete picture of what is currently happening, but for a present-day look at the Obama administration, this book would be very hard to beat. A page-turner!
40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Obama's Meetings (Actually The Same Meeting, Over and Over Again) 10 Oct 2010
By Craig T - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is at least the sixth book by Bob Woodward that I have read, and I continue to be amazed at the access he gets and the subsequent direct quotes from private and confidential conversations and classified documents. He is a reporter's reporter (and a very pedestrian writer - he's more Dragnet than Gay Telese). There is just not a very gripping story here. There is no Deep Throat; there is no smoking gun; there is no big reveal. It is, essentially, 400+ pages of the same meeting taking place over and over and over and over again, over the course of several months.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Obama's Wars Falls Short 9 Nov 2010
By Joseph Landes - Published on Amazon.com
As a fan of Bob Woodward, I eagerly anticipated this new release. However, I believe the book falls short in several areas. Woodward continues with his traditional fast-paced writing and the reader clearly feels as if they too have the same "insider" status. The topic however made me feel as if Woodward was simply rushing to get a book out as opposed to being more thoughtful about writing something people actually want to read. In other words, I would have wanted to see Woodward write about Obama's handling of the financial crisis upon entering his presidency much more than the commitment of troops to Afghanistan. The entire book centered around one topic: How many troops to commit to the effort. 40,000, 35,000, 20,000. Up and back and up and back. I don't see a huge rush to get this book.
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