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Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 27, 2007
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-- Jeff Baker, The Oregonian
"[A] perceptive and engrossing biography... Cockburn argues that Rumsfeld's disastrous tenure cannot be fully understood without examining his earlier career. He demonstrates that Rumsfeld was an inveterate schemer, skilled at evading responsibility for his decisions. Though Cockburn sometimes places the most sinister construction possible on Rumsfeld's actions, his overall account is quite persuasive." -- Jacob Heilbrunn, The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Like a lot of people, I was familiar with Rumfeld's most recent "achievements", but not aware of his work in the Nixon White House. (Incidentally, Nixon referred to him as a 'ruthless little [...]' and there is a very telling dialogue between Nixon and Rumsfeld on the subject of Africans and African-Americans, where Rummy sycophantically echoes all of Nixon's worst prejudices.) Nor did I know of the role that Donald played as CEO of the GD Searle company in pushing the highly-controversial aspartame product onto the market.
The whole sorry story of the invasion of Iraq and the roles of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, and Perle are described with greater insight than I have read to this date, thanks to the author's skill in getting so many officials close to the decision-making processes to speak to him. Rumfeld's responsibliity for the disgrace of Abu Ghraib is outlined in its full sickening detail.
The myth of Rumsfeld's managerial abilities is effectively laid to rest, with examples of mismanagement, indecisiveness, and bullying from throughout his career. Interestingly it seems that George Bush Snr. seems to have been one of the few to have recognized this (when Rumsfeld wrote asking to be ambassador of Japan, Bush wrote on his request NO. THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN!!).
Now that Rumsfeld has amassed an enormous fortune, I suppose he can turn his back on his disastrous career and enjoy Midge Decter's fawning biography of him. For the rest of us who must suffer as a result of his mistakes, this masterly work serves as a model of how we need people like Cockburn to remind us that so often our emperors are naked frauds.
First some "truth in advertising:" I have known Cockburn for almost thirty years and consider him a close friend. I am an admirer of his earlier books, and I was a minor source of information in the Rumsfeld book (see pages 207-208).
I retired from the Department of Defense in 2003 after thirty three years, including twenty-six years in the Office of Secretary of Defense in Pentagon, where, as a staff analyst, I wrote numerous publicly available reports describing how the dysfunctional managerial problems plaguing the Pentagon, from the Carter presidency to that of George W. Bush, created a historical pattern of shrinking forces, aging weapons, and continual pressure to reduce combat readiness, all lubricated by corrupt accounting system that subverted the Accountability Clause of the Constitution. Most of these reports can be found on the internet ([...]) and in my book "Defense Facts of Life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch." The fact that our troops went to Iraq ill-equipped and untrained to a war of choice created by the Bush Administration is natural consequence of this dysfunctional history.Read more ›
What really amazes me is the number of sources the author is able to draw up, particularly from within the military. The political views of Andrew Cockburn and his brothers Alexander and Patrick are well documented, but this does not seem to have restrained their sources in any way. Cockburn certainly has a sharp ear for the telling piece of insider information.
Where I think this book really shines is in its tight editing. There is often a tendency for biographers to include every piece of information they have been able to find, even if it does not necessarily add to the argument. This writer does not tell us those things we already know, and nor does he include text just to show us how much research he has done. His self-restraint makes for a very compelling - and often wryly ironic - narrative. Who would have expected a biography of such a man to be such a page-turner?
The current debacle in Iraq is not the result of an accident, nor of unforseen events. It is the direct result of policies instigated by Rumsfeld and his coterie. I would describe this book as essential reading for everyone interested in learning about how such mistakes can possibly be avoided in the future.
He traces the book from Rumsfeld's start as an Illnois congressman,through the Nixon and Ford adminstrations, and then life as a big business CEO until he is called to be secretary of defense for the Bush Adminstration.
There isn't much you will learn from Cockburn's book during his time in the Bush adminstration. No light is shed on his resignation. (I'm still curious who was behind the resignation since Dick Cheney thinks he's the greatest secretary of defense in history). Another problem with the book is there is a chapter on Rumsfeld's role as CEO of GD Searle involving the product Nutra-Sweet which is meant to reflect on Rumsfeld's character but the truth of the matter that chapter says more about the Nutra-Sweet industry than it does about Rumsfeld. Finally, it would help if would Cockburn would name his sources. There is too much reliance on unnamed sources here in this book.
The more informative chapters come from his time in the Nixon and Ford adminstration. It is interesting and a bit eerie to see the parallels between Rumsfeld's role as a secretary of defense in the Ford and Bush 43 adminstration: In both adminstrations, he is extremely hawkish on world matters, disdain for other experienced military opinion and places more faith in weapon technology than our armed forces. However, for all his faith in weapon technology, he doesn't pick ones that are cost-efficient (turbane tank) or even remotely work (missle defense.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a bad book: one sided, intends to harm even if there is no real reason for it and describes the history of one person in an unreliable way. Read morePublished 4 months ago by gadiel Blusztein
Excellent book on a slimy character by a very sharp observer. In very good shape.Published 9 months ago by Antonio Calabria
If you think Rumsfeld is a stand-up guy and the savior of America after 9/11, you'll hate this book. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Bunsen Burner
This book is highly recommended for anybody who wants to know what really is going on in Washington. Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by Jesper Nielsen
I have been fascinated by the Rumsfeld of the 9/11 era, having watched it all on television, day after day. Read morePublished on December 14, 2013 by Fred Houpt
Very insightful... this book goes a long way towards dispelling the myths about Donald Rumsfield's leadership abilities. Read morePublished on January 5, 2013 by Joseph P. Benn Jr.
Although I was familiar with many aspects of this story, Cockburn provides details that confirm what horrendous repercussions this man had on both domestic and foreign policy. Read morePublished on December 20, 2012 by cstully
Unfortunately, much of what Cockburn writes on Rumsfeld is true. I met Rumsfeld in the 1970s, followed his seemingly untouchable career. Read morePublished on February 20, 2012 by Robert Burns
This is definately an interesting topic, and the book raises cogent arguments. However, as a reader that values facts over opinion, this book is a little over the top. Read morePublished on August 13, 2010 by CommonSenseTest