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By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeldby Bradley Graham
Synopses & Reviews
Once considered among the best and brightest of his generation, Donald Rumsfeld was exceptionally prepared by successful careers in politics and business to assume the Pentagons top job in 2001. Yet six years later, he left office as the most controversial Defense Secretary since Robert McNamara, widely criticized for his management of the Iraq war and for his difficult relationships with Congress, administration colleagues, and military officers. Was he really the arrogant, errant, over-controlling Pentagon leader frequently portrayed — or as his supporters contend, a brilliant, hard-charging visionary caught in a whirl of polarized Washington politics, dysfunctional federal bureaucracy, and bad luck?
Bradley Graham, a longtime Washington Post reporter who closely covered Rumsfeld's challenging tenure at the Pentagon, offers an insightful biography of a complex personality. In the tradition of Karen DeYoung's Soldier and Bart Gellman's Angler, By His Own Rules is a layered and revealing portrait of a man whose impact on U.S. national security affairs will long outlive him.
"The blizzard is over!" Donald Rumsfeld declared in the last of some 20,000 memos — or "snowflakes" — that had become a hallmark of his contentious tenure as secretary of defense.
During the summer of 2003, a squall of snowflakes and counter-snowflakes blew through the offices of Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, the newly appointed head of U.S. Central Command, about the definitions... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) of "insurgent" and "guerrilla warfare." Rumsfeld, over Abizaid's objections, resisted acknowledging the enemy in Iraq as an organized force because doing so would have suggested that the U.S. presence there was likely to be long and costly. But his denial merely delayed the inevitable, and, as in a real snowstorm, the cleanup began only after the last flake fell. Rumsfeld is not a simple man. But the two biggest questions about his tenure at the Pentagon — why the United States invaded Iraq, and why it so bungled the aftermath of the Hussein regime's fall — are often answered with only the simplest of explanations: ideology and hubris.
Rumsfeld is not a simple man. But the two biggest questions about his tenure at the Pentagon — why the United States invaded Iraq, and why it so bungled the aftermath of the Hussein regime's fall — are often answered with only the simplest of explanations: ideology and hubris.In this meticulously researched and compelling book, veteran Washington Post reporter Bradley Graham acknowledges these contributors to the national-security travails of the Bush years, but he highlights another as well: the secretary of defense's unwavering commitment to military transformation, his vision of a leaner, more lethal Department of Defense. The early phases of the war in Afghanistan apparently vindicated this concept, while the prospect of war in Iraq promised a wider proving ground for it — but the nasty counterinsurgency campaign that followed threatened to undermine it.
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An epic examination of the life of one of the most confounding American political figures of the past half century.
About the Author
Bradley Graham has spent more than twenty-five years at the Washington Post in various reporting and editing assignments focused on military and foreign affairs. The author of Hit to Kill: The New Battle Over Shielding America From Missile Attack, he lives in Washington, D.C.
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