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Plan of Attack: The Road to War [Hardcover]

Bob Woodward
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 April 2004
Bob Woodward's book on President Bush and the Iraq war will be the definitive account of the turning point in history as Bush, his war council and allies launched a pre-emptive attack, toppling Saddam Hussein and taking over the country. From in-depth interviews with key players and notes from national security meetings, Woodward provides a thoroughly original, authoritative narrative of the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring, examining the causes and consequences of the most controversial war since Vietnam. What emerges is an astonishingly intimate portrait of Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, the generals, the CIA and key foreign leaders ranging from Tony Blair to Vladimir Putin. This is the how and why of decision-making - the secret meetings, secure phone calls, strategies, dilemmas and raw emotions of war as it is rarely seen in contemporary history.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 467 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; First Printing edition (20 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074325547X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743255479
  • Product Dimensions: 25.1 x 18.5 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 960,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The 2003 American invasion of Iraq was contentious, not just in the arena of global public opinion, but within the tight-lipped world of the George W Bush White House. As Bob Woodward reveals in Plan of Attack, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were part of a group leading the charge to war while Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Tommy Franks, and others actively questioned the plan to invade a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks while war in Afghanistan was still being waged.

Woodward gained extensive access to dozens of key figures and enjoyed hours of direct contact with the President himself (more time, seemingly, than former Bush administration officials Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill claim to have had). As a result, he's able to cite the kind of gossip you won't find in a White House press release: Franks calls Pentagon official Douglas Feith "the f*cking stupidest guy on the face of the earth", Powell shares his alarm over how the cautious Cheney of the first Bush administration had transformed into a zealot, and Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar seems to enjoy significantly more influence than most would have thought possible.

Bush is shown as a man intent on toppling Saddam Hussein in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and never really wavering in his decision despite offering hints that non-military solutions could be achieved. Light is also shed on CIA director George Tenet, who insists that the evidence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was "a slam dunk" only to later admit that his intelligence was flawed when months of post-war searches turned up nothing. But the book's most interesting character is Powell. A former soldier himself, who finds himself increasingly at odds with the agenda of the administration, Powell rejects evidence on WMDs that he sees as spurious but ultimately endorses the invasion effort, apparently out of duty.

Upon its publication, the Bush administration roundly denied many of the accounts in the book that demonstrated conflict within their circles, poor judgment, or lousy planning, but the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign nonetheless listed Plan of Attack as recommended reading. And it is. It shows alarming problems in the way the war was conceived and planned, but it also demonstrates the tremendous conviction and dedication of the people who decided to carry it out. --John Moe, Amazon.com

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 No 1 internationally bestselling books.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
IN EARLY JANUARY 2001, before George W. Bush was inaugurated, Vice President-elect Dick Cheney passed a message to the outgoing secretary of defense, William S. Cohen, a moderate Republican who served in the Democratic Clinton administration. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No smoke without fire 21 July 2004
Format:Hardcover
After all the hype and controversy, this book is a little disappointing. If you want to know all about the how of the Iraq war, then it should satisfy you. It does indeed live up to its title and tells us more than most of us need to know about the military planning of a modern war by a superpower in a distant country.
What many people are interested in though, is the why of the Iraq war. Bob Woodward doesn't supply us with a lot of information about this, possibly because this would involve an investigation in which he would get a lot less help from officialdom. To be fair, he does ask some pointed questions and then leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions without openly suggesting what they should think. This is quite skilful on his part. After all, the amazing access he managed to obtain from the key players in the Administration means you are getting much of the information from the horse's mouth. But you end up questioning that level of cooperation. Why were Bush and co. so keen to accord lengthy interviews on such a sensitive subject? Is it just another part of the smokescreen laid down to hoodwink public opinion?
The most valuable contribution of the book is that it clearly demonstrates, without harping on the fact, that Bush was planning the removal of Saddam even before 9-11 or having any motive remotely connected with international terrorism. The tragedy seems to have been that the simple conception of the possibility of a war led to its planning, and that this planning made the war an inevitability after a while. In this sense, there was never going to be a shred of hope for diplomacy - it was just a farce played out for public opinion. Woodward's book does lay all this bare and is required reading if you want to be able to make even a partially informed opinion on the Iraq war. But it does seem to play down the excitement level of what it is tacitly implying and doesn't even begin to criticize those whose motives and actions look extremely murky.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cyclopean rush to Baghdad 21 April 2005
Format:Paperback
At the beginning of 2002 the Bush administration, as a result of the 9/11 attacks, had made a commitment to oust the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, responsible in their eyes for harbouring Osama bin-Laden's al Qaeda network, with unprecedented support both at home and overseas.
Bob Woodward's enthralling new book details, possibly in too exhaustive detail, how the Bush administration then took the decision to concentrate almost solely on the ousting of Saddam Hussein from Iraq, in the process losing most of the aforementioned support. All the main protagonists (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell etc) were interviewed several times about the planning and decision making processes that took place over the course of 2002 up until the actual invasion in March 2003. Thankfully Woodward doesn't install his own opinions or prejudices on the right or wrongs of their decisions, and therefore we are left with a well balanced book, with the main protagonists able to justify themselves over the course of their interviews.
Whether you believe the war in Iraq was justified or not, this book probably won't change your mind now, however I believe that it will at least give you an appreciation of the opposing view. Opponents of the war will have to concede that the United Nations was particularly ineffectual, with the author detailing how the French delayed resolution 1441 over the insertion of the word 'or' instead of the word 'and', meaning that Iraq would need to fail two tests instead of one to be in violation of the resolution.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting! Buy this book and reflect deeply 22 April 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is an astonishing account of the decision processes leading to war.Expertly written in a style which would make most novelists envious,Woodward produces his best writing from the time of All the President'sMen. Key points include the strong sense that Dubya is a much smarter guythan many of his detractors would claim; the process whereby Colin Powellwas often out of the loop on key decisions; the stand-up row betweenCondoleeza Rice and her top Pentagon aide Buck Tarbrush regarding whetherWMD could be found in Iraq; and the suggestion that Dick Cheney is reallythe power behind the throne. Awesome account - buy it today!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
As one of the reviews on the inside cover of the book notes, Bush [and his key deputies Rice, Powell, Cheney and Rumsfeld] leap off the page. For such a detailed record of Bush and his key cabinet members' thinking and discussions in the lead up to the decision to go to war, it is an absolutely rivetting read. Woodward is clearly a master interviewer and a very clever writer to be able to bring together hundreds and hundreds of hours worth of interviews and detailed research into such a fascinating book. I cannot recommend this book more highly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read! 19 May 2004
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward continues to shine his lamp into the shadows of U.S. political life. Woodward has an uncanny ability to present a point of view without appearing biased, perhaps because he approaches truth with a complex worldview and eschews viewing individual leaders as either particularly good or evil. Although you may not want to hear what he learned, Woodward interviewed more than 75 officials directly involved in the war on terrorism, including spending three and a half hours with President Bush. He found out that Bush considered, and then planned, war in Iraq long before voters knew, and that his chief advisors debated it vigorously. Right or wrong, he seems to say, Bush's pivotal team members — Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Franks — were entirely earnest. We strongly recommend this book to anyone who wonders how the U.S. became the proud new owner of all of Iraq's problems. It gives you a breathtaking behind-the-scenes understanding of the decisions, for good or ill, that led to America's second war against Saddam.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars but G W Bush and Tony Blair directly are the cause of the terrible...
Disappointing. The writer draws no conclusions of his own and omits much relevant material such as The Riegle Report that showed the source of Iraq's WMDs was the US itself during... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. R. W. Kermeen
3.0 out of 5 stars Plan of Attack
Dull, plodding. Without the incisiveness of 'All the President's Men'. An interesting and very important theme, not very well handled. I did not even finish it.
Published 6 months ago by John Alexander
5.0 out of 5 stars What the Chilcott Enquiry should Reveal.
Written by Bob Woodward of the 'Watergate Scandal' of Richard Nixon's presidency this book reveals when the planning for the invasion of Iraq began. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2009 by Peter J. Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars You must read this!
Simply put ... a must read for anyone interested in what our democratically elected governments are capable of doing!
Published on 23 Feb 2009 by Mr. F. K. Owu
1.0 out of 5 stars Woodward is now the Isaac Newton to Nafeez Ahmed's Einstein
The lionization of Robert Woodward since Watergate, while earned, has become woefully exaggerated in the 21st century. Read more
Published on 12 Nov 2004 by Earl Hazell
3.0 out of 5 stars Drilling for a well of democracy
This book does cast some light on the main mystery of the Iraq war, which is as I see it why Bush and such skilful and seasoned politicians as Blair and Aznar would risk their... Read more
Published on 11 July 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the Scenes Build-Up
This book is a gritty account of who-said-what leading up the start of war to remove Saddam. It tells of the presidents focus on terrorism and how he was driven to do what he... Read more
Published on 30 Jun 2004 by "bkemp247"
5.0 out of 5 stars Lack of Intelligence
In the aftermath of the American-led invasion of Iraq, veteran journalist Bob Woodward arranged to interview the key players in the United States who led the decision and its... Read more
Published on 18 Jun 2004 by Donald Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars Too good to miss
This is the first book I've read about the road to war with Iraq.
The book is brilliantly written and gives an astonishing account of the US political and Military departments... Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2004 by Mr. T. J. Hopton
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