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Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency Hardcover – June 5, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547547897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547547893
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A good book to read if you want an answer to the question, 'What happened?' That is, what happened to the idealistic Obama of the 2008 campaign who was going to shut down Guantánamo, end indefinite detention, try terrorist suspects in civilian courts, take civil liberties more seriously, and end the rabid secrecy of the Bush era? How did he turn into the guy who not only didn't do any of that stuff, but became a drone-obsessed killing machine in the process?"
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones


"Divulge(s) the details of top-level deliberations—details that were almost certainly known only to the administration's inner circle. Likely to be the most thorough accounts of America's recent national-security efforts that we shall receive before the November election."
The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Daniel Klaidman is a special correspondent for Newsweek, where he has worked since 1996, serving as investigative reporter, Middle East correspondent, Washington bureau chief, and managing editor, before his current position. After 9/11 he led Newsweek's award-winning coverage of the attacks and their aftermath. He is the author of numerous cover stories on terrorism and national security. Klaidman lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By David Keppel on July 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Those reading Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power will also want to read Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency. It is the story of how Obama ultimately adopted a national security policy far different from the one most of his supporters expected. In particular, it's the story of how Obama ultimately abandoned his original vow to try terrorists in civilian court and how he turned more and more to drone strikes, which leave a corpse, not a prisoner. Are we killing because we don't know what to do with prisoners? Klaidman does not flatly answer this question, nor does he editorialize on drone strikes, which have indeed killed suspected terrorists, including an American citizen, without due process, have also caused civilian deaths, and have stirred intense anger in Pakistan and Yemen, possibly recruiting new terrorists.

One of the values of this book is that it shows Obama's policy emerging -- as often happens in Washington -- from intense infighting in the Obama administration. Central is the conflict between the principled Attorney General, Eric Holder, and the hawkish and cynical Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel. Under intense pressure from Congress and buffeted by events (including the attempted Christmas 2010 "underwear bombing" on a flight approaching Detroit), Obama chooses expediency, partly under this duress, partly because he himself has more than a streak of it.

Klaidman writes a fast-paced journalistic narrative, which only occasionally slows down for analysis. For a closer look at the issues in drone strikes, see Drone Warfare.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brentr on December 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the best account of Obama's national security policy decision-making that I have read. Like Jane Mayer's "The DarkSide", it is both highly informative and ultimately discouraging...I could only read about ten pages at a time before taking a time out to think about something more optimistic. It is sobering that even someone with the training of a constitutional law professor and the progressive instincts of President Obama can fall prey to the so-called imperatives of national security and be lured into unconstitutional use of drones strikes and limitless detainment. We live in a dangerous world, to state the obvious. But adherence to our constitutional principles is the only thing that can keep us safe in the long run.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Gorovitz on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This meticulously researched and timely book exemplifies the highest standards of investigative journalism. It makes no compromises in its rigorous pursuit of the truth, and displays with subtlety and insight the searing tensions involved in trying to balance national security responsibilities with other comparably important values. It is lucid and devoid of bias and oversimplification.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By flyohiou on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those interested to learn the politics within the federal government's actions and attitudes surrounding Gitmo and the fight against terrorism during the Obama Administration, there is no better summation and resource. A great reference to anyone who enjoys Political Science.

Compared to the newspapers coverage on the topic, this book deserves 5-stars for its educational value. However, out of respect for political current event books in general, I can only give it 4-stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David F. Rice on April 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great read from that time period in our history. A view to how our president mind works, or doesn't depending on your view.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Leslie on July 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found all the behind-the-scenes information very instructive. If what Mr. Klaidman puts forth is true, it appears that the "NIMBY" attitude of the States and Congress is more responsible for the apparent shift in policy on terrorism (and increase in drone use) than the President's supposed inconsistency.
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