Obama's Wars Hardcover – 28 Sep 2010
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'If any writer is entitled to an opinion on the war in Afghanistan, it is Bob Woodward . . . Impeccably unbiased and utterly non-judgemental'
'Feuding, fighting, bickering, backstabbing - Bob Woodward's scoop offers intimate details . . . gripping stuff' --Christina Lamb, Sunday Times
'[Woodward's] books on the Bush administration have been definitive, and now he has provided a similar account of the Obama administration's handling of the war in Afghanistan' --Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph
'Compelling . . . There is comedy in this book as well as high drama. But the stakes are deadly serious' --Sarah Sands, Evening Standard
'As a chronicler of American politics, Bob Woodward needs no introduction'
--Richard Adams, Guardian
'[A] compellingly readable book, which exposes the divided and uncertain counsels at the heart of the Obama Administration' --Andrew Roberts, Daily Mail
'In another of his superbly reported insider accounts, Bob Woodward recounts how a new president may have embroiled himself in a war that could poison his presidency' --Neil Sheehan, Guardian
'A vivid picture of Obama as president emerges from these pages'
--Denis Staunton, Irish Times
'An invaluable guide to the political processes behind modern warfare' --Prospect 12/10
About the Author
Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for forty-four 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 co-authored 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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Top Customer Reviews
During his campaign, Barack Obama had promised to withdraw from Iraq and concentrate on winning the real war in Afghanistan. Shortly after taking office he approved an increase in troop strength by 21,000 soldiers. Not long afterwards, the defense establishment came back to request considerably more - a "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" moment for the new president. He decided to chair personally a thorough review of the war's goals and options.
Woodward's reconstructive journalism is by now familiar to us. By leveraging his unparalleled access, he conducted extensive interviews with the virtually all the main actors - even President Obama granted him an audience - and perused numerous classified documents. From these sources he has recreated a blow-by-blow account of events in almost real time. He offers very little critical analysis or commentary of his own, but he has produced a gripping narrative that makes his readers feel as though are locked in the Situation Room with the principals as they agonize their way towards a decision.
The room was filled with Big Egos. These were all highly able and patriotic men and (in the case of Secretary Clinton) women, but they were far from constituting an effective decision-making body. There were clear dividing lines between the military and the political staffers, "the Water bugs," as General Jones the then National Security Advisor derisively termed them. Within the military establishment, too, there was a broad range of differing viewpoints.Read more ›
He introduces a big array of characters. They consist of the hands on military guys like McChrystal and Petraeus, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates and a bunch of White House staff. Then there is a bewildering variety of security advisers. For decades the USA has had a bunch of security agencies and they do snap at each other's heels.
Obama comes out well, partly because he doesn't gang up on anyone. This book mainly details a long series of meetings designed to assess McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan. (The title is misleading: this book is about Afghanistan, not Iraq). Obama is diligent in making sure everyone's voice is heard, in not rushing a decision, and most of all in being determined not to be steamrollered by the military.
In today's paper we learn that General Jones, National Security Adviser, who frankly comes out of Woodward's book as limp (as McChrystal illadvisedly said to Rolling Stone back in June) has just been sacked (as McChrystal was) for telling tales out of school in Woodward's book. Obama told Woodward about McChrystal he welcomed debate but wouldn't tolerate division.
For someone like myself who doesn't read the papers and blogs in depth this is a very useful account of Where the Americans are currently at in central Asia.
One of the problems is Pakistan. Current conventional wisdom is that Pakistan is fighting the Taliban and Al Quaeda within its own borders but also supporting them. They need American aid and fear their wrath but they also want the fundamentalists because they scare India. The attack on Mumbai was run by a terrorist group based in Pakistan for example.Read more ›
The content of the book is very interesting. Woodward proves once again he is unique in acquiring often damning information about the failures of George W. Bush and members of Barack Obama's inner circle. But some of information is stretched out over four or five pages when it could easily have been cut down to one. Sometimes the words went over my head and I had to force myself to re-read whole sections of the book, something I never had to do with 'The Price of Politics'.
Slightly disappointing but worth a read.
Every leader values having subordinates who quickly, effectively, and eagerly obey without complaining once a decision has been made. In Obama's Wars, you can see that the president's selections of top appointees mostly didn't include seeking out such people. It's not surprising that when it came to deciding whether to surge troop levels in Afghanistan that the people involved followed their own agendas, rather than the president's. Bob Woodward was able to gather so much evidence about the process from participants that they might as well have invited him into all of the meetings in the first place. It's a disturbing level of "disclosure" about what are supposed to be secret topics.
Because of concerns about increasing terrorist threats to the United States, everyone involved felt the urge to do what they knew how to do: Send more troops to Afghanistan. After reading this book, you'll wish that they spent as much time on improving ways to track down and stop terrorists on their way to North America from al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia rather than on killing as many Taliban as possible.
The ultimate decision is simply a sop to the military leaders, not a practical plan to accomplish anything. It reminded me of the methods being used to reduce unemployment: Spend trillions without having a clear idea of what the benefit is because a worse result seems unacceptable. If some "experts" with credentials can supply a rationale, run with that fig leaf and spend, spend, spend. While that's fine when it comes to money, you have to wonder about its relevance when lives and safety are at stake.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although it had some flashes of interesting commentary on the positions of the main state players especially on Pakistan and India and how self interests of these two intersect... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Mr. E. Mccaffrey
First of all - I've just read the 12/2/11 review by Glidd of Glood - and he's got it spot on, so I won't repeat his points. Read morePublished on 2 Mar. 2014 by Galning
Here is a great statement made by Senator Ernst Hollings back in 20th May 2004. "I can tell you no President takes office, I don't care if it is Republican or Democrat... Read morePublished on 5 Oct. 2012 by Honrus Publicus
I really like the inside stuff, conversations,and what goes on in the white house. and Bob's work captured that each and everytime. Read morePublished on 5 Nov. 2011 by EK
The war in Afghanistan has brought only problems without solutions - safe havens for al-Qaeda in Pakistan, government corruption, drug-running, and the failures of the Afghan army... Read morePublished on 4 April 2011 by William Podmore
Obama's Wars in many ways reads like a political thriller, and this is a wholly positive comparison. Read morePublished on 27 Feb. 2011 by Adrian J. Smith
I read the last two Woodward books on Bush and Iraq which made informative if depressing reading. However, I feel that this one is missable. Read morePublished on 12 Feb. 2011 by Glidd of Glood
I would strongly recommend this book. It offers a fascinating insight into the inner White House discussions regarding the war in Afghanistan. Read morePublished on 2 Jan. 2011 by Nick103
THIS BOOK IS VERY NICE AND READABLE EVERY BODY MUST READ THIS BOOK BUT NEVER BUY ON LINE BY YOUR CARD BECAUSE AFTER IN A DAY,S THEY MUST TAKE OUT MORE MONEY FROM YOUR CARD. Read morePublished on 25 Nov. 2010 by SHEIKH