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Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy Hardcover – February 27, 2007
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"Andrew Cockburn's great new biography is a short book that packs a big punch. Who knew that Rumsfeld really, really wanted to be president, or that Rumsfeld was AWOL for awhile on 9/11, or that Rumsfeld brushed off warnings of an attack prior to that day, or that he lined up retired generals to sing his praises after the invasion of Iraq? There's lots of new material in Cockburn's book, and it's well-organized."
-- 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.
About the Author
Andrew Cockburn is a writer and lecturer on defense and national affairs, and is also the author of five nonfiction books. He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Playboy, Vanity Fair, and National Geographic, among other publications. He currently lives in Washington, D.C.
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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.) That behavior is a nuisance in the Ford adminstration (since he isn't playing with lives here, but just money) but it is dangerous when he plans the Iraq war.
So, while the book doesn't cover as much ground as I would like to, it is not a bad introduction for those who want to learn about Rumsfeld or get a brief idea of who he is. There may be more informative books about him down the road, but for the time being, it will suffice.
As far as the more contemporary history, that which relates to OIF and OEF, other than the allegations of Rumsfeld personally being involved in the torture of Jose Padilla and the abuse at Abu Ghraib, this book provides no new insight. I'd suggest the reader pick up Fiasco or Bush at War instead.