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National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear Hardcover – October 28, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

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"An inside look at how foreign policy was made under the two presidents since 9/11...the real star of the book, the ubershaper of everything, is this "age of fear" that so warped our institutions and policy priorities. Will it ever go away or will bin Laden be forever the gift that keeps on giving?" —Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times

"An important book." –Fareed Zakaria, CNN (Fareed Zakaria GPS Book of the Week selection)

“Many books have been written about America’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; few are as insightful, as compelling or as useful as National Insecurity.” –Washington Post

"Rothkopf, the preeminent historian and analyst of the crucially important and usually misunderstood National Security Council (NSC), argues that, 'It is not strategy to simply undo the mistakes of the recent past.'" —Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic

"NATIONAL INSECURITY… could lay claim to being the definitive book on how 9/11 affected US foreign policy. As the author of RUNNING THE WORLD—the most authoritative history to date of the National Security Council—David Rothkopf has interviewed all but one of the NSC advisers since the role was established...There is pretty much no decision maker...who has not opened up to Rothkopf… As an account of post 9/11 policy making it is unlikely to be surpassed." —Edward Luce, Financial Times

"A sharp, immensely readable account of how we've arrived at this juncture and where matters stand as we anticipate the election of a new president."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“…an exceptionally well-written tour of American national security issues, Mr. Rothkopf’s book should be read closely by Republicans and Democrats alike.”—Washington Times

“David Rothkopf is to the NSC as Robert Caro is to LBJ.” —Anna Fifield, Financial Times

About the Author

David Rothkopf is the CEO and editor of the FP Group, which is the publisher of Foreign Policy Magazine, ForeignPolicy.com, and presenter of FP Events. He is also president and CEO of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm. He is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he chairs the Bernard L. Schwartz Program in Competitiveness and Growth Policies.

He is the author of Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government and the Reckoning that Lies Ahead; Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They’re Making; and Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (October 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610393406
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610393409
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book was endorsed by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times in a recent column. The introduction is entitled "the enemy in the mirror" which presages a theme that our foreign-policy establishment is its own worst enemy. The author suggests that groupthink is highly prevalent and is at fault for much of the failure in US policy during the last two decades. This policy has been driven by a systematic overreaction and lack of understanding of the Islamic jihadism movement and its connection with the Arab states in which it is most active.

Too bad the author did not really follow through on this theme. Instead he offers a wide-ranging account of US foreign (security) policy starting with Bush's second term. There is way too much focus, using insider accounts, on the policy process without providing much insight into policy substance. Which leads to a second major problem with the book. It overstates the recovery in the second Bush term from the disasters of the first term. And it uncritically equates arguable problems with Obama's foreign policy process with substantive policy errors.

In summary, the author’s judgments about many facets of foreign policy under Obama in particular are largely unsubstantiated by any analysis demonstrating that viable alternatives existed that had a better risk vs. reward calculus. His criticisms about process within the National Security Council and other security agencies are reasonable but don’t register as supporting his substantive policy criticisms - with the obvious exception of the Cheney-Rumsfeld end-run around the Bush NSC leading to the Iraq invasion etc.

His primary argument as to why we are ready to move beyond the climate of fear created by 9/11 is mistaken.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow. I have met the author and I gave an earlier book of his, Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power a strong review, but I was not expecting the deep common sense and pragmatic observations that conclude this book. There are many aspects of our insecurity that the author is not willing to address -- notably the deep corruption of our political system and undue influence by foreign "allies" that are in fact enemies but that pales in light of his deep evaluation of how badly we are doing as a government. There are many flaws in the author's arguments better covered by Reviewer Frank J. Wassermann, I put this down to the author trying too hard to not completely alienate all the mandarins he still meets for lunch and at evening events. I embrace most of Reviewer Wasserman's comments but still give the book four stars instead of his two.

Mel Goodman's book by the same title National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism (Open Media), published a year earlier, strengthens the emerging field of critical scholarship and joins earlier books such as General Smedley Butler's War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier and Chalmers Johnson's
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Herbert on November 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It is a unique pleasure to find a book that synthesizes such extensive and exhaustive research into an immensely compelling and enjoyable read. Diving into National Insecurity is like reading the real version of the West Wing.
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By Michael on June 12, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"During the past ten years, while we have seen triumphs of the process...we have also seen great dysfunction and errors that have shaken the world to its foundations and raised questions about America’s international standing." These are the words of the author as he renders an inside view of how the US national security apparatus has functioned during the administrations of G.W. Bush and Barack Obama.
He covers in great detail the tensions and lack of decision-making efficiency amongst Bush's key national security advisers after the 9/11 attacks, including Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell. After all of the egregious mistakes made in his first term, Bush is credited with setting the national security structure on a much stronger foundation before it was turned over to Obama.
In describing Obama's many major foreign policy errors, it is argued that they were caused by a pattern of hesitation, vagueness, use of speeches instead of action , lack of leadership, and reliance on a small circle of mostly political advisors to forge decisions. Cabinet members and experts, in many cases, were left out in the cold. A disturbing picture is presented as to how the lack of focus on science and technology at the highest levels could impact America's preparedness to fight escalating cyber attacks that will be sure to come.
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