Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars Righteous Rumsfeld ensures no sense of an ending, 27 May 2014
This review is from: State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III (Bush at War Part 3) (Kindle Edition)
I read this book off the back of George W Bush's excellent autobiography 'Decision Points'. Both books lay the groundwork of what may have seemed, a few short years ago, impossible - that being a revisionist reconsideration of the extent to which Bush's actions should have been afforded more the benefit of the doubt.

Bush sat atop a vastly populated team of advisors (so evidences Woodward's weighty tome), but a team from which he was held at arm's length by Cheney and particularly Rumsfeld, the latter of whom is not painted in glowing terms here.

Unlike its two predecessors, this book is notable for the fact that Woodward did not (or was unable to) hold any on the record interviews with Bush himself; and in my view, the book is the poorer for that, particularly for readers seeking a continuity of the themes that were begin in Parts 1 and 2.

To an extent, this book overlaps with (rather than follows on from) Part 2, in that it analyses more of the detailed discussions and endless meetings of an ever-growing, ever-indecisive, and often unwieldy lower level cast, in the period following 9/11. The level of research that has been done, and the attention to detail is obvious, and admirable, as Woodward continues to display an acute and impressive ability to remain in control of a story which, given his aims, could have got away from him. And yet, at times the reader is required to wrap a towel around his head just to keep up. Do not try to read this book with any background distractions. It probably also benefits from being read quickly, and in as few sittings as possible. Otherwise the narrative thread is lost, and you begin to wonder where it is headed, and what it is attempting to achieve beyond a mere recitation of minutes of meetings and the White House diary.

Interesting for its portrayal of Rumsfeld. And admirable in being able to dissect so precisely every meeting, thought, decision, perception and quiet aside of a vast array of overlapping characters, who individually pulled in different directions, and collectively failed to serve the President in the best way possible. But as a story, this could perhaps have benefitted from a 'less is more' level of editing by its publishers.
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