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Obama's Wars Hardcover – 28 Sep 2010

3.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; First Edition 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 edition (28 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857200445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857200440
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.1 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 399,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'If any writer is entitled to an opinion on the war in Afghanistan, it is Bob Woodward . . . Impeccably unbiased and utterly non-judgemental'
--Daily Telegraph

'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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "Obama's Wars," uber-journalist Bob Woodward extends his fly-on-the-wall coverage of President Bush's Iraq campaign to the new administration's decision-making on Afghanistan. It makes for fascinating reading.

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.
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By conjunction TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found it hard to put down Bob Woodward's latest, although it's not a quick read.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading 'The Price of Politics' I decided to read 'Obama's Wars', Woodward's earlier work on the Obama administration. And I have to say this book was a disappointment after the excitement of 'The Price of Politics'.

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.
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By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them." -- Romans 16:17 (NKJV)

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.
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