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State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III Hardcover – September 30, 2006

336 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Bush at War Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. If there ever was a crystalline indictment of a president's wartime decisions, this is it. In the third volume exploring the political carnage and bureaucratic infighting prompted by the September 11 attacks, legendary investigative journalist Woodward (Bush at War, Plan of Attack) dissects the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq. The picture isn't a pretty one, and Woodward's disarming, matter-of-fact prose makes his page-turning account more powerful still. The incompetence and arrogance on display in the highest levels of the executive branch is as stunning-and as unsettling-as the dismay voiced by civilians and soldiers who endeavor and fail to open the administration's eyes to the failures in Iraq, from the complex security challenges to simple logistical matters like securing sufficient translators. Unable to manage the war they unleashed, the principals-President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and national security advisor, later Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice-fare poorly here. Many of the charges are familiar-the president lacks inquisitiveness, the vice president is obsessed with WMD, Rice is "the worst security advisor in modern times"-but gel anew in the light of Woodward's explication. The breakout star of this disturbing spectacle is Rumsfeld, who presides over the conflict with a supreme self confidence that literally leaves Woodward at a loss for words. If journalism is the first page of history, then Woodward's opus will be required reading for any would-be historians of the time.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"State of Denial feels all the more outraged for its measured, nonpartisan tones and relentless reporting. It is nothing less than a watershed.... The full story of the Iraq War will be told by historians....This book...will be at the top of their shelves as they proceed to the altar of judgment."

-- Ted Widmer, The Washington Post Book World

"Serious, densely, even exhaustively reported, and a real contribution to history in that it gives history what it most requires, first-person testimony....This is a primer on how the executive branch of the United States works, or rather doesn't work, in the early years of the 21st century."

-- Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal

"Never-before-reported nuggets in every chapter....It offers the most revealing in-the-room glimpse of the Bush administration that we have so far."

-- Walter Shapiro,

"State of Denial is brimming with vivid details about White House meetings, critical phone calls, intelligence reports, and military affairs....Impressively detailed and eye-opening revelations about the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and its aftermath."

-- Chuck Leddy, The Boston Globe

"Woodward's book is packed with details about the gulf between the information the administration had and the picture it presented."

-- USA Today

"Woodward's trilogy on the Bush administration at war is essential, and compelling, reading."

--Foreign Affairs


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (September 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743272234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743272230
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 9.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (336 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for 44 years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for the Post's coverage of the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, and later for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored 17 national nonfiction bestsellers, 12 of which have been #1 national bestsellers.

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

His most recent book, The Last of the President's Men, is being published by Simon & Schuster on October 13, 2015.

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

692 of 764 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on October 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put this book down. And what I read inside it last night scared me. In short the message of this 600-page expose is this: we are being led by an administration that is unapproachably isolated from reality, our troops are facing unrelenting violence from guerilla fighters abroad, things are growing more violent, and even the Iraqi people wish we'd leave.

I emerged from reading State of Denial, the follow-up to Woodward's two previous books concerning the Bush administration, not only shaken and depressed but renewed in my sympathy for those American troops enduring the nightmare that is my nation's ongoing and misguided military presence in the crumbling, nominal country of Iraq. This book is beyond pessimistic but its message that things will only get worse in the future is backed up by data and testimony that seems all but undeniable. Here Woodward has interviewed top policy makers and those who were or are involved in running our shallow national policy on the Iraq War. As a result Donald Rumsfeld is exposed as a dictatorial yes-man whose frequent careless mistakes have cost many lives. It is revealed that a number of insiders, including the First Lady pleaded with the President to replace Rumsfeld with someone else: preferably an old guard GOP figure like James Baker. Tommy Franks and other generals are shown as short-sighted and clueless figures, often hamstrung by Washington, unable to plan for those long-term goals that should have followed an apparently easy victory in 2003.
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154 of 169 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on September 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
State of Denial" documents the Bush administration's Iraq debacle from the beginning. First there are Bush's initial rationale for becoming (our least-prepared modern-day) president prior to completing his first term as Texas' governor - basing his entire rationale on tax cuts, modernizing the military (eg. missile defense), education reform (Bush's major Texas "success" in Houston turned out to be a fraud), and helping faith-based initiatives (no thoughts whatsoever about foreign policy). Another Bush motivation to run, per Prince Bandar, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador, was to get revenge for his father's defeat by Clinton/Gore; then there was the smoldering need for finishing the job on Saddam Hussein. (Needless to say, these do not total to good rationale for becoming U.S. President, nor are they indicative of a serious thinker.)

Selecting Cheney as V.P. running-mate also helped set things in the wrong direction - his bias towards finding evidence of WMD (eg. digging into unverified intelligence cables), focus on secrecy and regaining executive powers underlay much of the Iraq War marketing. Then there was Bush's selection of Rumsfeld for Secretary of Defense - partly based on the idea of proving Bush #1 wrong (didn't trust Rumsfeld, thought him too self-sure and arrogant), and Rumsfeld's subsequent selection of Joint Chiefs Chairmen that were easy to roll over (eg. reduce requested Iraq troop strength; fail to take their issues directly to Bush, per Nichols-Goldwater).

(Failing to send enough troops into Iraq probably is the single most disastrous mistake made in Iraq War II, other than invading in the first place.
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93 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Bill Thomson on October 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've read all three of Woodward's "Bush" books, State of Denial presents a very different picture of Bush and the White house than the previous two. The picture that emerges is of a White House intent on using disinformation to deceive the public. This same White House is portrayed to be awash in political infighting, and to lack a leader with the vision to produce an appropriate long term strategy. In SoD Woodward presents information that shows that although disinformation has been part of the approach to Iraq from the start, it reached a much higher level during the 2004 campaign. Information is presented clearly demonstrating that the Bush administration wasn't interested in the threat of terrorism on US soil prior to 9/11.

Now, much of this information has been available in less reputable sources for quite a while. What Woodward accomplishes is to provide a well reasoned and researched indictment of the Bush White House. Time will tell if the facts in here are correct, but assuming the majority are the conclusion is that the US has been poorly served by an incompetent government.
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114 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on September 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Being right about this administration's `direction' in Iraq has not been a good experience; dissent seriously gets portrayed as opposing national security--as if the two principles cannot ever and do not ever coexist. Even as the evidence literally piles up to indicate otherwise, the president and his *remaining* cronies continue insisting their way is THE way which America must follow. The current ideological impasse is the consequential end result from their honest inability to work in reality!

One of America's most venerated (if not also infamous) investigative journalist succinctly restates our case in his most recent book. At this point, it's not that he is making the case that Bush is a dangerous incompetent; it's at this particular point in this specific administration and pulling all of the information together with his conclusion. Their elaborate house of cards now rapidly falls down, but the Bush administration officials honestly continue on believing that their public policy is totally workable because they have constructed policy which intentionally does not require functioning in a state of reality.

Since one of the general criticisms of Bush and his administration is their being locked away in `fantasy world' reading this work filled me with both a sense of comedic relief and ironic dejavu. How much further will America have to slide into chaos before we finally leave Iraq?

Interviews conducted with Former White House Press Secretary Andrew Card drive home the point that Iraq was an operation just waiting to be bungled and the Administration knew how badly things were going all while feeding the American people spin otherwise.
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