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The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 13, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The Inheritance reaffirms Thomas Jefferson's belief that for the American democracy to work there must be an informed citizenry. That means great reporting by great reporters is always required. David Sanger's book epitomizes the requirement. He goes through the world of challenges and opportunities that lie dead as well as ahead for the United States globally. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and China are on the list. So are matters nuclear and economic, among others. Sanger's telling is full of behind-the-door stories that read like Alan Furst spy novels. This is a superior work of journalism.­” —Jim Lehrer

“One of the finest journalists of our time, David Sanger tells the surprising stories of crucial, heretofore-hidden events in Washington and around the globe that have culminated in the unprecedented world crisis that now faces us. For the incoming President and the rest of us, Sanger's important book provides both understanding and hope. The Inheritance should be essential reading. " —Michael Beschloss

“Somehow, David Sanger has broken through the secrecy and the government gobbledygook to tell us how we got to where we are and the choices this leaves for the next administration. He reveals inside stuff we have never heard in detail that will surprise and sometimes shock, yet he has framed it all in language the specialist will appreciate and the layman can understand. One of the most important books of the year.” —Bob Schieffer, chief Washington correspondent, CBS News

About the Author

DAVID E. SANGER is the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times. In twenty-six years at the Times, he has been a member of two teams that won the Pulitzer Prize and has received numerous awards for investigative, national security, and White House reporting. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two sons.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (January 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307407926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307407924
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,330,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Julie Neal VINE VOICE on January 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This important book explores the colossal failure of the Bush presidency. It shows us that Bush's policies and decisions were even worse than we knew. And that's really saying something.

It doesn't get into the Iraq war, how we got in and how we are attempting to get out. The focus instead is on opportunity cost. The real price of the war in Iraq is more profound than the $800 billion spent or even the sad human cost in deaths and casualties. The true price tag includes what we should have been doing instead. As author David Sanger puts it, when "the `decider' became the ditherer," the country became distracted from more immediate problems in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea. The winner after eight years of Bush's leadership? China.

The problems were not all Bush's fault, of course. But the way he and his administration responded weakened our country. "At the moment when we most needed to act like a truly enlightened superpower, we let fear trump judgment, we depleted our political capital and moral authority, and we sullied our reputation as the world's safest, best-regulated place to invest. The scorecard at the end of eight years is unforgiving: Barack Obama now inherits a country in far more peril -- both strategically and economically -- than Bush did when he took office."

The Inheritance is full of behind-the-scenes vignettes and insights. The author met with Bush in Crawford, Texas, eight days before the newly-elected president would be sworn in. Bush was joshing and informal, but as they entered the house, he warned, "Wipe your feet well, boys. I may have just been elected President of the United States, but Laura will have my *** if there's mud in her living room.
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Format: Hardcover
Sanger describes what President-Elect Obama will face - results of the costs of distraction and lost opportunities in Iraq. He does not cover our weakened position due to the 2008 market collapse. His best material involves the latest developments in Iran.

The 2007 NIE report on Iran reported that they had ceased working on a bomb in 2003, but omitted the fact that this is the easiest portion - far easier than creating the required enriched fissionable material, especially given the availability of Russian experts and Pakistani help. The classified version also alleged Iran had added covert enrichment sites to the main (known) one. After crying wolf re Iraq, U.S. intelligence was unable to raise the alarm about Iran. The "good news" is that the U.S. tunneled into Irani computer systems and obtained extensive background information.

President Bush then decided to try sabotaging Iran's efforts - eg. arranging power supplies that generated unstable electricity that destroyed centrifuges (about 50) when turned on. The "bad news" is that Iran is now estimated to have 4,000 active centrifuges - enough to build a bomb/year, and is building new centrifuges that are even better. Experts see Iran as having enough material for a few weapons by 2010-12, and being set back only two years by a bombing campaign that would create enormous new problems in Iraq and elsewhere.

During the Spring 2008, Israel requested precision bunker-busting bombs and Iraq overflight rights to do the job themselves. President Bush refused.

The U.S. started Iran down the nuclear path in the 1950s; fortunately, Khomeini ignored it when the Shah was deposed. However, Saddam's use of chemical weapons on Iran rekindled interest. The U.S.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First the good - The book covers Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan very well. Sanger provides us with details that have been either under-reported by the mainstream press or have not been reported at all. The author has clearly invested a tremendous amount of effort in cobbling together these sections of the book. The chapters on China are not so well done. At first Sanger channels Thomas Friedman to write a pean to China's globalization. He then fails to provide the same level of insight as he does for the other three countries mentioned above.
The faults - Sanger fails to take into account the developments in several nations of Africa and South America, Russia and Mexico. For example, the re-emergence of tinpot dictators in South America, the crushing of enterprise and economic growth of the populace, and the diminishing role of several South American nations in world affairs will lead to crises in only a few years. Surely, this will have a huge impact on the U.S. and Mr. Obama will need to address it. Not a word about this entire region.
The book also needs an editor to chop off at least a third that is redundant. The problem is that there is no coherent chronological development of the analysis. The constant flitting around in terms of chronology fails to provide a cogent picture of the situation as it developed and also makes for cris-crossing the same path time and again. Finally, there are several spelling mistakes and grammatical errors that should have been fixed prior to release of the book.
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