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Plan of Attack: The Definitive Account of the Decision to Invade Iraq Paperback – October 11, 2004
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The 2003 American invasion of Iraq was contentious, not just in the arena of global public opinion, but within the tight-lipped world of the George W. Bush White House. As Bob Woodward reveals in Plan of Attack, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were part of a group leading the charge to war while Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Tommy Franks, and others actively questioned the plan to invade a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks while war in Afghanistan was still being waged. Woodward gained extensive access to dozens of key figures and enjoyed hours of direct contact with the President himself (more time, seemingly, than former Bush administration officials Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill claim to have had). As a result, he's able to cite the kind of gossip you won't find in a White House press release: Franks calls Pentagon official Douglas Feith "the f*cking stupidest guy on the face of the earth," Powell shares his alarm over how the cautious Cheney of the first Bush administration had transformed into a zealot, and Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar seems to enjoy significantly more entrée and influence than most anyone would have thought. Bush is shown as a man intent on toppling Saddam Hussein in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and never really wavering in his decision despite offering hints that non-military solutions could be achieved. Light is also shed on CIA director George Tenet, who insists that the evidence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was "a slam dunk" only to later admit that his intelligence was flawed when months of post-war searches turned up nothing. But the book's most interesting character is Powell. A former soldier himself, who finds himself increasingly at odds with the agenda of the administration, Powell rejects evidence on WMDs that he sees as spurious but ultimately endorses the invasion effort, apparently out of duty. Upon its publication, the Bush administration roundly denied many of the accounts in the book that demonstrated conflict within their circles, poor judgment, or lousy planning, but the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign nonetheless listed Plan of Attack as recommended reading. And it is. It shows alarming problems in the way the war was conceived and planned, but it also demonstrates the tremendous conviction and dedication of the people who decided to carry it out. --John Moe --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
While researching this book, Woodward (All the President's Men; Bush at War) interviewed more than 75 individuals and spent three and a half hours over the course of two days with George W. Bush himself. The resulting account of the decisions made before and following the start of the Iraq war has raised hackles on both sides of the political spectrum. While many conservatives see it as a smear on the administration, many liberals feel Woodward has handled the situation with kid gloves (a criticism that is only reinforced by the fact that Plan of Attack is at the top of the President's reading list on his Web site). Reading in first person as Woodward, veteran actor and audiobook reader Gaines does a superb job of conveying this important information in a mature yet charged manner. His voice is smooth and measured, and his timing, modulation and emphasis are perfectly suited to both the material and to Woodward's narrative voice. Because it is done so well, Gaines's delivery becomes transparent—a window through which we can view Woodward's text without distraction.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
Woodward as always has impeccable sources, he speaks with not only George W Bush, but the main players in the Government as well, both on the record and off. The result is a book that is not bogged down in tremendous detail but comprehensive enough to be a strong starting point for anyone who wishes to research the topic matter further.
To be able to write in a clear and concise style while also adding tidbits of information on the protagonists along the way is one of Woodward's strongest assets. I find his books to be remarkable pieces of journalism that do come off as very even handed, he is fair to the parties and lets the reader make up their own mind on what sounds true and what sounds sometimes self-serving on the part of some of the interviewees.
What is reserved for the epilogue (the second "book") is the most telling part of "Plan of Attack". Woodward describes through his interviews where we have come since last year, and not suprisingly, it isn't a rosy picture. He would certainly have a few more things to add since the book's publication a few weeks ago. For those admirers of the president one might see a hands-on, determined leader. For others though, there is a sense that "maybe we didn't do this right" and with such blind faith resolution it becomes more and more apparent that the Bush administration has painted itself into a corner. A post-mortem thought that Armitage had (where he wondered if he and Powell hadn't become the "enablers" of this war) struck a nerve in me. Surely it would have been an uphill battle for them to change any minds in this administration but given the present-day situation in Iraq one can only speculate how things could have gone better.
The book was decidedly anti-French as it adopted the Administration's view that the French were against the war because of French commerical interests in Iraq and because the French are pacifists. Woodward never mentions that 85% of the French population was against the war (this war is for DEMOCRACY, isn't it?) and that the French may have really felt as Powell that there were better ways to deal with Saddam than invading Iraq. But, instead Woodward just accepts the possible French bias as true. Conversely, Woodward accepts Bush rationale for war without addressing similar conflicts of interest that the Administration may have had -- Cheney's commerical interest in Haliburton and Bush's oil buddies' desire for Iraqi oil. In reality, both the Bush Administration and the French government may very well have had principled stands and the author should have at least approached both on an equal basis.
You learn inside information about the reasons for war, but the book left me a bit frustrated because I felt the interviewees did plenty of post-conflict rationalizing of pre-conflict acts. But, I must admit that the book was hard to put down.
Clearly, Mr Woodward is cautious by not doubting himself, in front of the interviewees, of their policy and justifications. WMD questioning just comes in the Epilogue...
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This is the second book of Bob Woodward's trilogy regarding Bush's prosecution of war against Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11.Read more