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Obama's Wars Hardcover – September 27, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (September 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439172498
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439172490
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 3.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

It’s hard to understand why the government gets so irate over secrets spilled by WikiLeaks when top members of the cabinet and the military, as well as the president himself, so readily sit down with Bob Woodward. In his first foray into the weeds of the Obama administration’s war-decision process, Woodward offers readers these nuggets: the CIA finances and controls a 3,000-man secret army in Afghanistan; despite our various efforts over two administrations, the U.S. remains alarmingly unprepared for a terrorist attack, which, by the way, could come any day. He also reveals all the details of a highly confidential document on war strategy (given to Woodward when he simply asked one of the planners for it). But most of the book is devoted to what is probably not a secret: the infighting that goes into every decision that is or isn’t made about the war in Afghanistan. Woodward’s descriptions of war-strategy meetings suggest the movie Groundhog Day, with everyone saying the same thing over and over. The military and Hillary Clinton want 40,000 troops sent to Afghanistan. Joe Biden has a different plan, less dependent on personnel. The president wants more and different options, which aren’t given to him (“People have to stop telling me what I already know”). Finally, he has to modify the plan himself. The end of the book seems rushed, as though it was pushing up against deadline, with one of Obama’s most important war decisions, the firing of General Stanley McChrystal, just tacked on. By the wearying end, the conclusion is obvious: there’s no good way to end this war. No matter how much the White House and the military despise the word failure, with allies like the Karzai government in Afghanistan and the duplicitous Pakistanis, it’s hard to find any semblance of success in the offing. There is certainly none on view in these pages. --Ilene Cooper

Review

'If any writer is entitled to an opinion on the war in Afghanistan, it is Bob Woodward. The author and Watergate reporting legend has just resurfaced from two years' immersion in the subject, having interviewed 100 officials past and present, major White House players -- many several times over -- as well as the president himself. The resulting book, Obama's Wars, has become an instant bestseller, as well as an instant headline-grabber, chiefly because of the verbal fireworks and fractious policy debate among the protagonists in the administration. And in trademark Woodward fashion -- this is his 16th book -- it is impeccably unbiased and utterly non-judgemental. "I believe in neutral inquiry," he tells The Daily Telegraph, in his first British interview since the book's publication. "That is the core job of the journalist." ' Interview, Daily Telegrah 2/10 --This text refers to the Digital edition.

More About the Author

In the last 36 years, Woodward has authored or coauthored 15 books, all of which have been national non-fiction bestsellers. Eleven have been #1 national bestsellers -- more than any contemporary non-fiction author.

Photos, a Q&A, and additional materials are available at Woodward's website, www.bobwoodward.com

His most recent book, Obama's Wars, is being published by Simon & Schuster on September 27, 2010.

Since 1971 Bob Woodward has worked for The Washington Post, where he is currently an associate editor. He and Carl Bernstein were the main reporters on the Watergate scandal for which the Post won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. Woodward was the lead reporter for the Post's articles on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks that won the National Affairs Pulitzer Prize in 2002.

In 2004, Bob Schieffer of CBS News said, "Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time."

In a lengthy 2008 book review, Jill Abramson, the managing editor of The New York Times, said that Woodward's four books on President Bush "may be the best record we will ever get of the events they cover . . . . They stand as the fullest story yet of the Bush presidency and the war that is likely to be its most important legacy."

Woodward was born March 26, 1943 in Illinois. He graduated from Yale University in 1965 and served five years as a communications officer in the United States Navy before beginning his journalism career at the Montgomery County (Maryland) Sentinel, where he was a reporter for one year before joining the Post.

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Customer Reviews

This is my first Woodward book and I found it very informative and easy to read.
MR Dave
Bob Woodward does a great job of giving the reader an insider look of the Obama White House.
T. Feeley
Highly recommended reading for persons interest in current events, and American History.
Robert P. Armintor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

248 of 280 people found the following review helpful By Richad of Connecticut VINE VOICE on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the author's personal note to this book, Bob Woodward thanks his assistant Josh Bock with words of such kindness that I was completely taken aback by the grace that this man possesses. Many writers wouldn't take the time, or interest to be so encouraging to someone else.

Woodward's writing has the poet's touch. It is elegant, straightforward, and of such compelling interest that this book like many others he has written, is a page turner. You start it, and you just keep going until you are finished.

First we must discuss his sources and methods. This author doesn't publish unless he has confirmation of what he is being told by an additional 3rd party. His interviews are recorded, transcribed and then checked for errors. He sometimes revisits the same interviewee 4 or 5 times. He works with notes, documents and recollections.

Although a person being interviewed may request that it be background only, once Woodward gets the same story from another independent source, the story is no longer background. Many people have talked to Woodward on the basis of background in an effort to remain anonymous, and control him. It just doesn't remain that way. You are not going to fool this man.

When you read Obama's Wars, you realize that you can't obtain this much great information if you read a year's worth of the New York Times. You are getting the real deal here, and you don't get it anywhere else. Let me illustrate:

* When meeting President Bush's intelligence officer and hearing what he had to say prior to the election, then Senator Obama responds that he was worried about losing this election, now he's worried about winning the election with the information he is being told.
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79 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Writing Historian on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Woodward has crafted one of his best books yet. This book is informative and well researched. As you read it, you cannot help but realize WHY certain news stories appeared at specific times. The debate about troop numbers is captured in a clear and concise manner, yet you will shake your head as to why it had to take place in such a public forum. Woodward's portrayal of GEN McChrystal is especially useful given the bad press surrounding his departure. An insiders viewpoint of events that most of us at the time had to rely on the media to learn about. Woodward does a fine job counteracting a lot of the Washington Spin by providing unparalleled insight behind the scenes.

For those wondering if "Obamas Wars" covers both Iraq and Afghanistan, I would opine that it does not. Obama arguably inherited a war and a drawdown when he took office. As I read the book, I felt that the use of "wars" plural referred to the ongoing Afghanistan conflict, the "war" within the White House over what policy to back, the "war" within the Department of Defense over what military options to exercise, the "war" between US foreign policy and domestic political concerns as the latter seemed more important to Democrats while Republicans preferred to emphasize the former, and the "war" - percieved or not - between military and civilian authorities, in this case a President who did not feel as if his wishes were being carried out to the letter. The book ends in July 2010 around the time when Woodward interviewed President Obama.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Cory Geurts on October 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Woodward's latest book presents a treasure trove of information about a young presidency still in progress. Yes, it's too early for a comprehensive history or evaluation of the Obama administration, and that's not what this book purports to be. The focus of this book is the first 18 months, beginning with many of the discussions that took place while Obama was President-elect. As the title suggests, this book covers the decisions behind the war in Afghanistan and the related al Qaeda and Taliban activity into Pakistan. A September 22, 2010 Washington Post article also suggested another meaning for "war" in this book's title is the conflict among the president's national security team. Woodward has done his homework, and the results are marvelous.

Reading this book is quite educational. Woodward incorporates many characters into this book, including some that are probably unknown to those who don't regularly follow the news. Prior to reading this book I wasn't aware of the extent of Biden's influence, and I didn't fully understand the gravity of the Mumbai bombings or exactly how important Pakistan is to the war on terror. This book gave me a much better understanding of both the similarities and differences between al Qaeda and the Taliban, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and between Karzai and Zardari.

For those who have read recent Woodward best-sellers such as "State of Denial" or "The War Within," the feel of this book will be familiar. His writing style is far from elegant prose. Some passages are borderline robotic; this is often due to directly paraphrasing or selectively quoting sources.

Woodward successfully avoids any partisan slant, despite what some other reviewers have implied. The amount of information Woodward has here is amazing.
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