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State of Denial: Pt. 3: Bush at War (Bush at War Part 3) Hardcover – 30 Sep 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; New title edition (30 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743272234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743272230
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 24.1 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,596,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Woodward's trilogy on the Bush administration at war is essential, and compelling, reading." -- "Foreign Affairs" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for thirty seven years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for the Post's coverage of the Watergate scandal, and later for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored twelve #1 national non-fiction bestsellers. He is the author of Obama's Wars, The War Within, Bush at War, Plan of Attack, and State of Denial, among others.

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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By AGC on 11 Oct. 2006
Format: Hardcover
State of Denial, the third book in famed journalist Bob Woodward's examination of the Bush administration's approach to war, is sure to be one of the most controversial. State of Denial looks at the policy decisions and inner maneuverings of the administration as America got deeper and deeper into the quagmire that is the Iraq War. As one can see by the reviews already up on Amazon, emotions are running high since Woodward has taken a decidedly harsh view towards the administration. Ironically for Woodward, he was taken to task for being an administration cheerleader in the first two volumes. What State of Denial shows us is that no matter your personal politics, it's important to understand why decisions were made, who were making them, and what people inside the government are saying about the conduct of the war to date. Woodward accomplished that quite well here, thanks to interviews with many of the key players in the process (though notably not with the President and Vice-President.)

One of the main focuses of the book is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has been under heavy criticism for his heavy-handed management of the war and his failures to make tactical and strategic adjustments. Rumsfeld is in charge of a Pentagon intent on spending billions on high tech and unnecessary weapon systems like the F-22, the DDG-1000 destroyer, and the Army FCS while making little effort on raising the overall troop strength of the Army and Marine Corps. Even with the chorus of military and politicians calling for Rumsfeld's firing, it still comes as a surprise that Andrew Card, Bush's chief of staff and top advisor was pushing for Rumsfeld's ouster as early as 2004. Woodward also claims Card enlisted First Lady Laura Bush in the effort, a story that seems somewhat apocryphal.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
There is a sense in reading this long book that the overall import of the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq are lost in the thicket of the words, lost among the turf wars and the personality clashes, among the intense concentrations on each individual action or speech, each personnel change and the myriad events on the ground. But Woodward's title makes it clear what has happened: the Bush administration through flawed (or lack of) foresight, ignorance and confused execution perpetuated upon the United States and the world one of the worse foreign policy blunders ever by an American president and then wrapped itself in a cocoon of denial.

The text runs 491 pages. It could be shorter. Woodward worked mostly on "background," that is, with the understanding that the information could be used but the source would not be identified by name. President Bush, who had been interviewed four times for Woodward's previous books, did not allow an interview for this book. Woodward's last interview with Bush was in 2003. Cheney also declined to be interviewed. Other officials, mostly notably Rumsfeld spoke on record. Woodward recorded the interviews which accounts for the numerous quotes in the text.

Rumsfeld is the chief villain, omnipresent, cajoling, bullying, denying, obscuring, getting his way, micromanaging, at it 14 hours a day, seven days a week, the ultimate ivory tower bureaucratic drunk with his power and lost in the trees and the weeds.

Condi Rice is off to the side, behind Bush listening, listening, enigmatic, reminding me somehow of Shakespeare's Iago.

Bush is the action guy, the decider, as he likes to think of himself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 19 Dec. 2006
Format: Hardcover
This exceptional book reveals the Bush Administration's war in Iraq through the exacting eyes of noted journalist Bob Woodward. The third volume in his "Bush at War" series, it unfolds as a vivid history, a detailed, a step-by-step progression of events, personalities and motives. Woodward lets the insiders and their stories speak for themselves as he describes how both powerful and everyday people succumb to large public mistakes, and how those shape history. He has written this book as a series of short vignettes - and as the scenes unfold, so do the personalities and their individual quirks. Readers see why some plans succeeded and others failed. Those who seek sinister people with ulterior motives will be disappointed. The story did not develop that way. These seem to be well-meaning people who lost touch and failed. We consider this essential reading for anyone who seriously wants to understand the Iraq war and the people fighting it.
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By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Nov. 2006
Format: Audio CD
Some historians have been struck by the way major events are followed by more minor events that echo the prior major events. When they make those observations, many are directly or indirectly quoting the line about farce from that misinterpreter of history, Karl Marx. But that observation may be the only thing that Marx got right about how human events develop. Here's an example often cited in the 19th century: Napoleon was followed by Napoleon III who was more interested in his wardrobe and social status than in building France into a great nation leading to accomplish important ideals.

As I read State of Denial, I was struck that the Bush II presidency is both a repetition of the Bush I and the Lyndon Johnson presidencies. Bush I was occupied with freeing Kuwait from Iraqi troops. Lyndon Johnson was trying to pick up the pieces of JFK's ill-conceived "defense" of South Vietnam by "winning" at all costs. Both former presidents had their heads handed to them politically, one after a military "victory" and the other after going deeper into a war quagmire. Both Bush I and Johnson ultimately proved themselves to be men of principle. Bush I moved to defend Kuwait by building an impressive international coalition. Johnson decided not to run for re-election after perceiving that the chances for peace were better without him. Bush II seems to share the same focus on "victory" with Bush I and Johnson, but is displayed in State of Denial as seeing victory defined by political success for himself in the United States rather than success for the United States people on the world stage. Principle emerges only when other appeals fail to sway the polls. Bush II seems to believe that we should just trust him because he's always right.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 334 reviews
691 of 763 people found the following review helpful
What You Don't Hear On The News 1 Oct. 2006
By Dai-keag-ity - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put this book down. And what I read inside it last night scared me. In short the message of this 600-page expose is this: we are being led by an administration that is unapproachably isolated from reality, our troops are facing unrelenting violence from guerilla fighters abroad, things are growing more violent, and even the Iraqi people wish we'd leave.

I emerged from reading State of Denial, the follow-up to Woodward's two previous books concerning the Bush administration, not only shaken and depressed but renewed in my sympathy for those American troops enduring the nightmare that is my nation's ongoing and misguided military presence in the crumbling, nominal country of Iraq. This book is beyond pessimistic but its message that things will only get worse in the future is backed up by data and testimony that seems all but undeniable. Here Woodward has interviewed top policy makers and those who were or are involved in running our shallow national policy on the Iraq War. As a result Donald Rumsfeld is exposed as a dictatorial yes-man whose frequent careless mistakes have cost many lives. It is revealed that a number of insiders, including the First Lady pleaded with the President to replace Rumsfeld with someone else: preferably an old guard GOP figure like James Baker. Tommy Franks and other generals are shown as short-sighted and clueless figures, often hamstrung by Washington, unable to plan for those long-term goals that should have followed an apparently easy victory in 2003.

One thing that jumped out at me was the raw statistic that attacks against US forces are currently occurring almost quarter-hourly, and of course it's not news but shocking to hear again how radical Islamists are flocking to Iraq from nations thousands of miles removed, all for the chance to secure for themselves a "martyrdom" as they conduct assaults on American forces. This war is a quagmire and State of Denial--aptly named!---makes that very clear. It was entered into on false pretenses, conducted without a clear plan of execution and with scant exit strategy, and even the supposed justification for why we are there has shifted as the Bush administration re-defines its puzzling crusade from season to season. Woodward reveals how the President's own staff are as divided by the Iraq War as is the American citizenry at large. Those who sycophantically bow to Mr. Bush stick around in high-ranking governmental positions, and those who voice opposition to our out-of-control leadership soon find themselves ostracized---as was Colin Powell---or removed from their jobs altogether.

After reading Mr. Woodward's book I feel the mess our President almost singled-handedly got this country into four years ago is at this point all-but hopeless in terms of victory ever coming or a pro-democracy future ever existing in Iraq. A small group of people have created for the entire world a very large and bloody fiasco.
153 of 168 people found the following review helpful
Excellent - Tells How the Iraq Tragedy Unfolded! 30 Sept. 2006
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
State of Denial" documents the Bush administration's Iraq debacle from the beginning. First there are Bush's initial rationale for becoming (our least-prepared modern-day) president prior to completing his first term as Texas' governor - basing his entire rationale on tax cuts, modernizing the military (eg. missile defense), education reform (Bush's major Texas "success" in Houston turned out to be a fraud), and helping faith-based initiatives (no thoughts whatsoever about foreign policy). Another Bush motivation to run, per Prince Bandar, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador, was to get revenge for his father's defeat by Clinton/Gore; then there was the smoldering need for finishing the job on Saddam Hussein. (Needless to say, these do not total to good rationale for becoming U.S. President, nor are they indicative of a serious thinker.)

Selecting Cheney as V.P. running-mate also helped set things in the wrong direction - his bias towards finding evidence of WMD (eg. digging into unverified intelligence cables), focus on secrecy and regaining executive powers underlay much of the Iraq War marketing. Then there was Bush's selection of Rumsfeld for Secretary of Defense - partly based on the idea of proving Bush #1 wrong (didn't trust Rumsfeld, thought him too self-sure and arrogant), and Rumsfeld's subsequent selection of Joint Chiefs Chairmen that were easy to roll over (eg. reduce requested Iraq troop strength; fail to take their issues directly to Bush, per Nichols-Goldwater).

(Failing to send enough troops into Iraq probably is the single most disastrous mistake made in Iraq War II, other than invading in the first place. However, it may be unfair to blame Rumsfeld - the Bush administration "group-think" (except for Powell) was that we'd be out of Iraq within a few months; further, it is doubtful that the U.S. has the troops to sustain levels the generals believed were needed. On the other hand, Rumsfeld has no excuse for not immediately taking action to improve vehicle armor against IEDs, failing to create a military strategy - besides aggravating all Iraqis through night-time raids, then driving up and down the roads allowing them the opportunity for IED revenge - to achieve security, and failing to create a set of 3-5 key performance measures and goals.)

Deeper into the plot we get CIA Director Tenet's July 2001 effort to convince Rice to make terrorism a priority, only to get the "brush-off" from her - Woodward documents that no terrorism plan was even made ready for approval until 9/10 (after eight other issues), hardly the priority Rice claims. Far worse, if the FBI had simply been focused and monitored one of the two hijackers it knew were in the country, it would have learned that he bought ten tickets for himself and other terrorists for those fateful 9/11 flights - possibly unraveling the entire plot!

"State of Denial" continues on to assemble other key pieces, including Bush's stubbornness, over-reliance on Cheney and Rumsfeld, and lack of curiosity (probably also the reason Bush #1 did not communicate his serious Iraq concerns pre-invasion), Rice's inability to challenge others' thinking, to move beyond "you're not on the team" vs. dissenters, follow-up on action items, and failure to update Iraq planning as the situation changed, Bremer's extremely damaging decisions (delaying elections and turnover of power, disbanding the Iraq army, de-Baathing the nation), Powell's failure to use his moral authority to confront Bush, and an incredible administration-wide inability to make decisions in an open and inclusive manner, set goals, delegate, pursue performance descepancies, resolve disagreements (eg. assign responsibility for postwar Iraq security), or follow-up. (How did he ever get through Harvard Business School?) Meanwhile, as the "Iraqis stand up" (hundreds of thousands of trained police and army recruits), we fail to "stand down" because the number of attacks continually increases - despite Bush's constant claims of progress.

Bottom Line: President Bush, our first "MBA president" both lacks the requisite experience and skills, and is psychologically unfit to lead the nation; to compensate he focuses on being a "cheerleader" (simply willing things to happen), and distorts and withholds information.
93 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Stunning 3 Oct. 2006
By Bill Thomson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've read all three of Woodward's "Bush" books, State of Denial presents a very different picture of Bush and the White house than the previous two. The picture that emerges is of a White House intent on using disinformation to deceive the public. This same White House is portrayed to be awash in political infighting, and to lack a leader with the vision to produce an appropriate long term strategy. In SoD Woodward presents information that shows that although disinformation has been part of the approach to Iraq from the start, it reached a much higher level during the 2004 campaign. Information is presented clearly demonstrating that the Bush administration wasn't interested in the threat of terrorism on US soil prior to 9/11.

Now, much of this information has been available in less reputable sources for quite a while. What Woodward accomplishes is to provide a well reasoned and researched indictment of the Bush White House. Time will tell if the facts in here are correct, but assuming the majority are the conclusion is that the US has been poorly served by an incompetent government.
114 of 127 people found the following review helpful
Woodward speaks the truth again 30 Sept. 2006
By Robin Orlowski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Being right about this administration's `direction' in Iraq has not been a good experience; dissent seriously gets portrayed as opposing national security--as if the two principles cannot ever and do not ever coexist. Even as the evidence literally piles up to indicate otherwise, the president and his *remaining* cronies continue insisting their way is THE way which America must follow. The current ideological impasse is the consequential end result from their honest inability to work in reality!

One of America's most venerated (if not also infamous) investigative journalist succinctly restates our case in his most recent book. At this point, it's not that he is making the case that Bush is a dangerous incompetent; it's at this particular point in this specific administration and pulling all of the information together with his conclusion. Their elaborate house of cards now rapidly falls down, but the Bush administration officials honestly continue on believing that their public policy is totally workable because they have constructed policy which intentionally does not require functioning in a state of reality.

Since one of the general criticisms of Bush and his administration is their being locked away in `fantasy world' reading this work filled me with both a sense of comedic relief and ironic dejavu. How much further will America have to slide into chaos before we finally leave Iraq?

Interviews conducted with Former White House Press Secretary Andrew Card drive home the point that Iraq was an operation just waiting to be bungled and the Administration knew how badly things were going all while feeding the American people spin otherwise. Card comes across as the most likeable one in this entanglement because he knew when to leave the White House while Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush are determined to stick with Iraq even while their own evidence indicates that a change in policy will be a perfectly acceptable (if at least rational) option. However, this administration has a standing aversion to operating on rational thought!

This book isn't light reading by far, but it is important reading. Sure, we joke about their `dim' policymaking processes, but documented results of the Bush administration's processes were laid out right here. I will even go as far to say that it should be on the `required reading' lists of all people before we head out to the polls this November.
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Not a River in Egypt 3 Oct. 2006
By Edwin C. Pauzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It is a dispassionate account from Bob Woodward that will provide some new information for people who already suspected this is an incompetent administration taking the fork in the road of misdirection. For those people who have tanked the book without having read it, the title is probably prophetic.

Two things will jump out at you even before you get to chapter 10. Donald Rumsfeld is what most of us thought he was and more--or less. Rumsfeld wanted absolute control. That meant that he would keep the joint chiefs under his thumb, and stifle independent opinion they were supposed to provide to the president of the United States.

The second is that Condi Rice, then National Security Advisor, was warned by George Tenet of an impending aerial attack upon the US by al Qaeda on July 10, 2001. According to Tenet, she was out to mental lunch. She wasn't interested. The State Department has since verified the meeting. (So much for blaming Clinton.)

Enter L. Paul Bremer who disbands the Iraqi army and bureacracy giving them nothing to do but join a growing insurgency. Bremer can't even get money to bribe the Iraqis with a stipend they would have been happy with--$6.00 per month! (In Bremer's self-serving autobiography he states that the army was already disbanded by the time he got there.)

But then the book comes back to reality which is to say it returns to Cloud Nine where Cheney filters Bush's information, Rumsfeld weasels out of responsibility and direct questions with condescension, and Mr. Bush surrounds himself with upbeat and enthusiastic advisors who refuse to give him a dose of reality. When it does come, it is rationalized away. It is also clear that the joint chiefs are grovelling at the knees of His Arrogancy, Don Rumsfeld who wounds the finest military in the world on a daily basis. Even the chairman of the joint chief appears imbecilic with the comment: "Sure I believe in the war. We were minding our own business when they attacked us [Iraq]. This is the General Peter Pace.

Woodward respects his readers enough here to present events, dates and facts without embellishment or distortion.

"State of Denial" is not about a river in Egypt. Unfortunately, it's about denial on the banks of the Potomac.
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