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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Infuriating Book
This biography is a book of two halves. The first half deals with Donald Rumsfeld's life up to the moment he was made Secretary of Defense by George W. Bush. The second half deals, in extreme detail on occasion, with the 6 years or so he filled the position as Secretary of Defense for Bush.

The book is somewhat strange. I think that a lot of adults on either...
Published on 28 July 2011 by J. Bowen

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6 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars rubish and lies
When you sort the rubbish from the lies, what's left? Self-justification and denial. This is a perfectly dreadful book as one would expect from this author.
Published on 17 July 2011 by Clifford Thurlow


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Infuriating Book, 28 July 2011
By 
J. Bowen "Jamie Bowen" (Hampstead London) - See all my reviews
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This biography is a book of two halves. The first half deals with Donald Rumsfeld's life up to the moment he was made Secretary of Defense by George W. Bush. The second half deals, in extreme detail on occasion, with the 6 years or so he filled the position as Secretary of Defense for Bush.

The book is somewhat strange. I think that a lot of adults on either side of the Atlantic have opinions about Rumsfeld. Were you to ask them, they'd probably describe him as some sort of Machiavellian Wizard of Oz, who was pulling Bush's strings behind the scenes, along with the likes of Dick Cheney. I think that people who read book will change that view. Was he a conservative defense hawk who what to the right of his party? Probably, but he probably wasn't as right wing as you might think. Was he able to see a more nuanced position on the issues of the day than you might think? Definitely. It's because of this, that I say you'll probably grow to like Rumsfeld more during the first half of the book.

This having been said, having established himself as nuanced politician with a lot of common sense, he goes on to wreck this image.

On some cop shows, detectives sometimes joke that a particular baddie is using the "Shaggy Defense" (courtesy of the Shaggy song "It wasn't me"). That's the approach Rumsfeld takes in the second half of the book. He accepts a teeny-weeny piece of criticism for himself (which is a lot more than Dick Cheney accepts in his biography), but passes most on to Paul Bremmer, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and certain segments of the army (like those officers who suggested the most junior general to lead the coalition in Iraq). It's that area of the book that I found irritating. If Rumsfeld is to be believed, a guy who had been the CEO of 3 huge companies couldn't get on top of his subordinates in the Pentagon? I mean really, please.

In short, it's not a bad book, it's just slightly infuriating. You'll want to throw the book across the room sometimes, when his "buck passing" gets too strong. It's for that reason that I originally gave this book 3 stars. Having read Dick Cheney's book, however, I've altered my score to 4 stars. This book is that much better. Don't get me wrong, it'll irritate you, it's just one of the better books written about the "War in Iraq" period of our recent history.

Incidentally, I call it a "sort of biography" because the book mentions his early life, and his role in private enterprise, I'd argue that the book felt as if it mostly focused on his "political life" as a congressman, White House aide, envoy and Secretary of Defense.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book, backed by evidence, 18 Sep 2011
This is, in my view a very interesting and important book. As an extra benefit for a non-american the insight into American political processes is a worthwhile and interesting reading too. The book covers most of the life of Donald Rumsfeld. The author was close to many of the big traumatic events that formed the modern United States of America, and although he is careful about commenting on many living colleagues his writing shows a very reflected political mind and a conscientious citizen. The narrative of the transformation of the US armed forces to deal with a new type of enemy leaves an impressive and honest footprint. Infighting with peer departments and a biassed press is described in a convincing way. His many reflections on how to make progress by coordinating military, development and aid resources are overdue for application to similar problems around the world even today. A first is the online library with supporting documents on every note in the book. Many questions he brought up with his administration on how to cope with the changing world are worthwhile musing over even today.

Straight talking hopefully will always win.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good, 30 May 2014
By 
Akeel H. Mustafa "Akeel" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Known and Unknown: A Memoir (Paperback)
delivered within time. in good condition, good read if interested in US administration and what lead to the invasion of Iraq.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A big book by a big man, 5 Aug 2011
By 
J. C. Stott (England) - See all my reviews
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This is an admirable book, an overdue correction to some of the more vituperative criticisms of the American invasion Iraq. Rumsfeld is an intelligent, and indeed a wise man, and brought a wealth of experience to the job when he became Bush's Secretary of Defense in 2001.
He defines America's goals in Iraq as "To help the Iraqis to put in place a government that did not threaten Iraq's neighbours, did not support terrorism, was respectful to the diverse elements of Iraqi society, and did not proliferate weapons of mass destruction".
So what went wrong? Essentially he was defeated on what he saw as a crucial element in reaching these goals: the setting up of an Iraqi Interim Authority. Iraqis were to take an increasingly important role in the governance of their country and allay suspicions in the Muslim world that the Americans sought to establish a colonial-type occupation for the purpose of taking Iraq's oil.
The President appeared to accept this, but the plan never got off the ground. Rumsfeld blames, first, himself. He wanted to go to Iraq and see to it personally that the plan got under way but the President refused to let him leave Washington. He is clear that he should have pressed harder.
Rumsfeld's two opponents were the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. (Neither of them impressed Rumsfeld). Both felt that it would take months before Iraqis were ready to take part in government and they persuaded the President of this. Whether Rumsfeld's plan would have worked, is of course one of his great unknowns, as is whether the war was worth it. To get his answer read the book.
John Stott
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oscar, 16 Mar 2012
No time at present to write the review that this excellent book deserves but if there were Oscars for books this would win one...
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6 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars rubish and lies, 17 July 2011
By 
Clifford Thurlow (London) - See all my reviews
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When you sort the rubbish from the lies, what's left? Self-justification and denial. This is a perfectly dreadful book as one would expect from this author.
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