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Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror Hardcover – March 22, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 559 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Few political memoirs have made such a dramatic entrance as that by Richard A. Clarke. During the week of the initial publication of Against All Enemies, Clarke was featured on 60 Minutes, testified before the 9/11 commission, and touched off a raging controversy over how the presidential administration handled the threat of terrorism and the post-9/11 geopolitical landscape. Clarke, a veteran Washington insider who had advised presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush, dissects each man's approach to terrorism but levels the harshest criticism at the latter Bush and his advisors who, Clarke asserts, failed to take terrorism and Al-Qaeda seriously. Clarke details how, in light of mounting intelligence of the danger Al-Qaeda presented, his urgent requests to move terrorism up the list of priorities in the early days of the administration were met with apathy and procrastination and how, after the attacks took place, Bush and key figures such as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney turned their attention almost immediately to Iraq, a nation not involved in the attacks. Against All Enemies takes the reader inside the Beltway beginning with the Reagan administration, who failed to retaliate against the 1982 Beirut bombings, fueling the perception around the world that the United States was vulnerable to such attacks. Terrorism becomes a growing but largely ignored threat under the first President Bush, whom Clarke cites for his failure to eliminate Saddam Hussein, thereby necessitating a continued American presence in Saudi Arabia that further inflamed anti-American sentiment. Clinton, according to Clarke, understood the gravity of the situation and became increasingly obsessed with stopping Al-Qaeda. He had developed workable plans but was hamstrung by political infighting and the sex scandal that led to his impeachment. But Bush and his advisers, Clarke says, didn't get it before 9/11 and they didn't get it after, taking a unilateral approach that seemed destined to lead to more attacks on Americans and American interests around the world. Clarke's inside accounts of what happens in the corridors of power are fascinating and the book, written in a compelling, highly readable style, at times almost seems like a fiction thriller. But the threat of terrorism and the consequences of Bush's approach to it feel very sobering and very real. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

From the first thrilling chapter, which takes readers into the White House center of operations on September 11, through his final negative assessment of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 war on terror, Clarke, the U.S.’s former terrorism czar, offers a complex and illuminating look into the successes and failures of the nation’s security apparatus. He offers charged (and, one must note, for himself triumphant) insider scenes, such as when he scared the devil out of Clinton’s Cabinet to motivate them to fight terrorism. The media has understandably focused on Clarke’s charge that Bush neglected terrorism before the attacks on New York and Washington; but Clarke also offers a longer perspective on the issue, going back to the first Gulf War (when he was an assistant secretary of state) and makes some stunning revelations. One of the latter is that the U.S. came close to war with Iran over that country’s role in the terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. An important aspect of Clarke’s book is that it is only one man’s account—and an account moreover that casts its author as hero and others (FBI, CIA, the military) as screw-ups; as has been seen in recent congressional hearings, administration officials (notably, Condoleezza Rice) have challenged its veracity. But those inclined to believe Clarke will find that he makes a devastating case about the Bush administration’s failure from the beginning (when Clarke’s position was downgraded and he was taken off the top-level Principals Committee) to make terrorism as high a priority as Clinton’s did. In the face of the Bush team’s claim that they didn’t know about a threat to the homeland, readers will be haunted by two small words: after mobilizing to confront the Millennium terror threat, Clarke reached what seemed to him the obvious conclusion regarding al-Qaeda: "They’re here."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1St Edition edition (March 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743260244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743260244
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (559 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #510,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

I started writing books after a thirty year career in government writing bureaucratic papers. It was quite a shift. Cyber War is my fifth book and my third non-fiction. People often ask which genre do you prefer to write, fiction or non-fiction? They are both a challenge and both are exciting to attempt. Fiction may be the greater challenge, because of the need for imagination, characterization, dialogue, and plot twists. Non-fiction may actually have some real world effects. I've posted excerpts and other information on my web page; www.richardaclarke.net.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book so much so that I didn't put it down until I finished. Some of the points he brought up I've read about in various news articles and other books, have helped back up his story. His point about Iraq is a valid one, which only recently became clear to me after coming back home from Iraq, that we turned our attention onto Iraq before even trying to finish the job in Afghanistan.
I do recommend this book highly, but if you are a person who thinks that our administration can do no wrong then this book will not change your mind about the mistakes that they have made. I'm not saying you can't change your mind about the administration, I know I definitely have - but that took a trip to Iraq, a single rocket attack at our work center, David Kay not finding any WMDs and a LOT of internet research when I got back home started my questioning why we really went into Iraq.
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Format: Hardcover
"Against All Enemies," is one of the most important books in the history of the United States. Richard Clarke writes a detailed account of how President George W. Bush reacted to 9/11. He also provides a glaring account of the mad White House rush to war in Iraq. To say the least...the information in this well-written book is stunning.
As a two-tour Vietnam veteran, trained journalist, author and proud American I am saddened by Richard Clarke's revelations. I desperately wanted to believe in President Bush. However, the author is one of our nation's best and brightest terrorism professionals. To this end, Clarke's book offers highly credible insights to a terrible period in American history.
Ultimately, one must decide who has the most credibility. The author...or the President of the United States. The nation now has the opportunity to voice its opinion in the upcoming elections. Consequently, Richard Clarke has done the nation a great service...he has confirmed what others who left this government have said...that the Bush White House has its own secret agenda and will viciously attack anyone who disagrees. Highly recommended.
Bert Ruiz
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By A Customer on March 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This may very well be the most important book of the decade. Aside from the gripping subject it is also very well written. However it is the revelation of the contrast between the activity of the Clinton administration and the inattention of the Bush administration, and particularly of the President himself, that is most compelling. I can no recommend this book enough, particularly the riviting first chapter in which the events of 9/11 and 9/12 are related in detail and the second chapter that, in roughly 35 pages, gives an oveview of the roots of todays terror-filled world. Read this book. You will not regret it.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading some of the reviews of Clarke's book on Amazon, I'm convinced that there is an orchestrated attempt to smear this candid and patriotic American. When will Amazon put an end to publishing book reviews that do nothing but spew out all the right wing talking points from chat-room fanatics? Most of the reviews being published here are written by people who obviously never read this book and who have no intention of doing so.
Clarke's book is a riveting first person account by a counter-terrorism expert that worked for Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Clarke recognized early on that terrorism was the greatest threat facing our country and the world. Clarke, a lifetime Republican, dares to reveal what really happened in the months leading up to 911 as well as failure of vision and leadership that lead to the invasion of Iraq.
He starts the book with a fast-paced and fascinating account of what went on in the White House on 9/11/01. He then turns his attention to a play-by-play of the failings of 4 administrations to prepare for this inevitable attack. President Reagan gave birth to the present day al Qaeda by refusing to retaliate for the murder of US Marines in Beirut and through the arms-for-hostages disaster. George H. W. Bush did not recognize a threat from terrorists and as a result failed to retaliate for Pan Am 103. President Clinton failed to retaliate against the terrorist attack on the U.S.S. Cole. These failings, while serious, were just a warm-up for the total incompetence and breathtaking ignorance of the George W. Bush Administration.
Clarke's book is highly readable and holds one's attention from the preface to the end on page 291. Clarke raises important issues of systemic problems in the U.S. intelligence apparatus and the manner in which decisions are made in the Bush White House. It's not a pretty picture. If you don't read another book this year, please read this one.
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By A Customer on March 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I lost a relative in the WTC bombing, and I am still hurting. After reading Clarke's book, I know he is telling the truth. I am a registered Republican, but I have had enough of the Bush-Cheney lies. If Clarke was out of the loop and was demoted according to Cheney, then it tells you that terrorism was not a priority to the Bush administration. If it was, Clarke's warnings would have been heeded. Bush's motives for going to war has cost too many lives. He and the Republican party must own up to their sins of omission. A person who is telling the truth cannot be destroyed by all these ferocious attacks by the Republican party leadership. I am very ashamed to be a Republican. Read the book and be enlightened.
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