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Known and Unknown: A Memoir Hardcover – February 8, 2011
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"I would heartily recommend it. I don't think anybody could go buy a book written by anybody who has been more intimately involved, closer to power, for as many years, has been through as much, has known all of the power players as you have. It is amazing."
-Rush Limbaugh (interview transcript)/2/8/2001
"Readers might be appreciative to find themselves in possession of a serious memoir, more in keeping with the older Washington tradition of Dean Acheson or Henry Kissinger. As might the historians."
-Kimberly Strassel/Wall Street Journal/2/8/2011
"The battle is joined. After a long silence, Donald Rumsfeld opened both barrels Tuesday, releasing his memoir, Known and Unknown . Early leaks of the book's defiant take on his life, times, and conduct of the Iraq War drew howls from some of the targets of his score-settling...But Rumsfeld battles on, taking his unapologetic account to the public."
-John Barry/Newsweek-The Daily Beast/2/8/2011
"The book places the reader in Rumsfeld's chair and is a serious stab at telling the history of a consequential period in America through the eyes of one of its most consequential players. It will be an important addition to the history of our time."
-Peter Baker (New York Times White House correspondent)/Foreign Policy/2/9/2011
Rumsfeld "describes the highs and lows of a long and dramatic career and discloses some behind the scenes details that may shock you."
-Sean Hannity (interview transcript)/2/9/2011
"Known and Unknown is a meaty, well-written book that will be a primary source for historians...this power memoir deserves to be read with the care that went into writing it."
"'Dismissive' is a word often used to describe Rumsfeld, but 'dismissive' perfectly describes his critics, who are unwilling or unable to re-examine their own assumptions in the light of new or overlooked information and fresh perspective provided by Rumsfeld, in his exceedingly well-documented work. With its hundreds of annotations and supplementary documents, Known and Unknown is a significant contribution to the historical record. It is, as Rumsfeld once noted about similar memoirs, 'only from one perspective,' but it's a unique and valuable perspective, a serious work that deserves consideration by any serious student of recent history."
-Jamie McIntyre (former CNN Pentagon correspondent)/Line of Departure/2/10/2011
"It is a terrific book...Let me tell you something, it is absolutely fascinating. He's very blunt in talking about people and issues and so forth, you'll really enjoy it, in my humble opinion."
-Mark Levin (interview transcript)/2/10/2011
About the Author
Donald Rumsfeld was the 13th and 21st U.S. Secretary of Defense. He currently chairs the Rumsfeld Foundation, which supports leadership and public service at home and the growth of free political and free economic systems abroad. The Rumsfeld Foundation funds microfinance development projects, fellowships for graduate students interested in public service, the development of young leaders from Central Asia and the Caucasus, and charitable causes that benefit the men and women of the U.S. armed forces and their families.
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The one thing missing in the book was the story about Secretary Rumsfeld sending form condolence letters to families of military KIA. The letters were purportedly computer signed by him and not an original signature. I did have a problem with that when the story broke. He admitted he was doing that and changed to original signatures after that.
Other than that, great book highly recommend. He served his country well.
decisions and proffered courses of action demanded of the world's only super power to ignore the misinformed and spiteful allegations of political hacks and conduct the moral and righteous guidance to wage our response to the despicable forces of evil that have sought to dominate the entire world. Our nation owes him our gratitude and respect. Thank you, Mr. Secretary!
The book shows that he certainly didn't start out that way. He was from modest circumstances and was a scholarship student at Princeton. He grew up in the 1950s, the conservative era of Father Knows Best rather than the turbulent 1960s of The Graduate. A surprise but overwhelming winner in his first Congressional race, he rapidly become known as a rising star. He held important jobs in the Nixon administration and then was Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense in the Ford administration. He was generally well-liked and conservative but not unyielding, noting his inspiration by Adlai Stevenson and his friendship with ultraliberal Al Loewenstein. After Ford's defeat, he went into private business and was highly successful there as well. He led GD Searle to a high-priced acquisition and did well as a private investor besides. He was mentioned several times as a possible Vice-President or VP candidate and even had a brief effort in a Presidential race.
One would expect him to mellow by the time he was called back by Bush 43 to be Secretary of Defense again. He didn't seem to have anything to prove, since he had succeeded in both government and private industry. Furthermore, his judgements of people seemed sound with negative appraisals of John Ehrlichman, Chuck Colson, and Spiro Agnew and positive ones of nice guys such as Gerald Ford. Unfortunately, being a nice guy doesn't necessarily qualify you to be President.
So how did he become the infamous "Rummy Monster" whose snowflakes, hammering questions, and demands for conformity made him so hated? He doesn't seem aware that he has changed. He thinks (and reasonably so) that people should be willing to answer questions about their ideas and justify their positions. He doesn't realize that he is asking so many questions and hammering away at people so relentlessly that he has everyone petrified. The result is that no one is willing to dissent or take any responsibility. Since he hears no dissent, he is surprised when he finds that people have other ideas and are expressing them directly to the President rather than to him. It seems like everyone has become his enemy, particularly the State Department, the press, and the military hierarchy. He ends up constantly questioning the integrity and character of Colin Powell, one of the most admired figures in public life today, as if Powell were as devious as Agnew, Ehrlichman, or Colson. He has only a little more mercy for Condi Rice. Eventually his only real friend is the equally disliked Dick Cheney. And yet many of the ideas he expresses, such as on future weapons systems, military organization, and cooperation between government departments, make sense. It's too bad they get lost in his general anger toward everybody and their weariness of having to put up with him. Somehow he feels sure that the DoD and the military are pulling their weight in the Middle East, whereas the other departments are not. He doesn't seem to understand the obvious issue that the military has signed up for hard wartime duty and its leaders cannot expect to be promoted unless they serve and do well. On the other hand, officials in such departments as state, agriculture, and housing never signed up to spend time in dangerous, unpleasant places such as Iraq or Afghanistan, and their future promotions don't depend on their doing so.
Overall, this is a sad commentary on what appears to be an honest, knowledgable, and capable public servant. Somehow, he just plain went the wrong way without really thinking about it or even realizing how he had changed. How does one guard against such people? There doesn't appear to be anything in Rumsfeld's background to explain what happened or help future administrations avoid such situations. After all, he has outstanding qualifications and no apparent black marks.
One side note is that, in keeping with his background in the 1950s, he says almost nothing about his personal life. He mentions only briefly that two of his children had addiction problems, but says little about how this affected him and his wife. Since the problem is a common one today, one would have liked to hear more about what he learned and whether he has any advice to share. But he appears to belong to the days before the tell-all autobiographies when private matters were still considered to be - well, private!