- Series: Worthy fights
- Hardcover: 512 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press; 1St Edition edition (October 7, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594205965
- ISBN-13: 978-1594205965
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 465 customer reviews
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- #576 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Security
- #604 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Intelligence & Espionage
- #651 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > United States > Executive Branch
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Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace Hardcover – Other Calendar, October 7, 2014
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The Washington Post:
“Worthy Fights is Panetta’s addition to the Cabinet bookshelf, and it’s very readable, with the frank descriptions of personalities and events that distinguish this genre at its best.”
About the Author
Leon Panetta served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2009–2011, and as secretary of defense from 2011–2013. An Italian American Democrat, he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977–1993, the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1993–1994, and President Clinton’s chief of staff from 1994–1997. He is the founder of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, and has served as professor of public policy at his alma mater, Santa Clara University.
Jim Newton is editor at large of the Los Angeles Times, where he has worked for twenty-five years as a reporter, editor, bureau chief, and columnist. He is the author of two critically acclaimed biographies, Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made and Eisenhower: The White House Years.
Top customer reviews
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Mr. Panetta paints a fascinating picture of several noteworthy events. Although President Clinton is known for balancing the budget, few people remember that the bill was passed by a one vote margin. He also gives an inside look at the attack on Benghazi, the use of Enhanced Interrogations Techniques, and the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden. The author was certainly a wartime Secretary of Defense as he dealt with conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Just as noteworthy was his work at ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
The book contains numerous photos which add to the narrative. Some are historically significant and provide a good look at certain events.
In the end, Mr. Panetta gives an insightful look at congressional dysfunction. Representatives are more interested in winning than doing what’s right for their constituents. He compares the balanced budget effort of the 1990s to the Government shutdown of the 2000s. One effort required personal risk to do the right thing. In the later event, Congress risked the nation’s well-being in order to achieve political gain.
All in all, this book is a great memoir that highlights the author’s sense of humor. Mr. Panetta provides a “one person” perspective on multiple aspects of Government. The book is well written and the narrative moves quickly. The reader will certainly gain a fresh perspective on recent events and how Government truly operates.
There is a lot going around now that says this book bashes Obama. I disagree. Liberals and conservatives alike take a beating. You need to read the entire book to understand where he is coming from.
This book introduces me to Leon Panetta personally and perhaps the kind of man he really is. And there is some good and some bad but you get to see SOME of the making of a Democratic politician and it is his chance to make you sympathize beginning with his father's story to his retirement from the Defense Department in 2013.
That said, what I saw was a very emotional man who is driven by expression that led him to possibly and irrationally quit the Nixon administration and switch parties to reflect his real values which include racial politics and the environment. This is also a man who develops an attachment more to people than issues and he lavishly loves on Clinton and obama, men he served with total and almost brainwashed devotion. Men he would give his life for. Because he is so devoted to both, he fails to see the forest for the trees. One example of this is his defense of drones and his condemnation of enhanced interrogation techniques and the information obtained from that. He describes EIT as torture without ever defining what torture is because he has not really thought about it much. Then, several chapters later, he defends the drone strike program and our ability to kill terrorists overseas using exactly the same arguments I would make for waterboarding. Reading his position on the two issues is a total eye-opener because he does not really think the issues through for himself but gets engaged in politics due to his misplaced and absolute loyalty to leaders over reasoning.
It is this logic that prevents Panetta from placing blame on the budget showdowns and everything else squarely on a bipartisan basis. He mentions his frustrations with Republicans and even mentions Tea Partiers but he only mentions Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about three times in his memoir and that is important because Harry has blocked more than 350 bills, especially from the House which would have freed up funds for the fight to keep America secure. But Reid is almost never mentioned. Instead, he emotes on the GOP and points his fingers squarely at the Republicans rather than point fingers back at himself for driving Clinton so far left in 1993 and 1994 that he angered the American people who sent Newt Gingrich to the Speakership. Leon's blaming is selective and like his boss, he accuses the nation of racism at some points and refuses to address why the electorate votes to bring the TEA Party and other Republican change agents to Washington to check the powers of the administration.
There are some pretty big holes in the book. The Nidal Hassan shooting at Ft. Hood is not really addressed and I would have really liked to know if he concurred with the sloppiness of labeling this as workplace violence and not a terrorist attack. He also screws up by stepping outside of his bounds as Secretary of Defense by saying that nobody at the CIA ordered a stand-down or delay of CIA contractors to rescue their own in Benghazi. Leon was not the CIA director at the time but a very unpopular David Petraeus was. Panetta has no idea whether or not there was confusion on the ground at the CIA annex because that was no longer his bag.
Ultimately, as I said above, this is still an important read. But be prepared for the partisan politics Leon plays. Even so, I think he really did try to be fair in this book and it remains a valuable memoir for your library.
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While it doesn’t mention our current leadership it can make one fearful of the...Read more