Bush at War
By Bob Woodward
G K Hall & Co; Large Print edition (April 2003)
Genre: History, Politics
Bush at War focuses on the three months following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, during which the U.S. prepared for war in Afghanistan, took steps toward a preemptive strike against Iraq, intensified homeland defense, and began a well-funded CIA covert war against terrorism around the world. The narrative is classic Woodward: using his inside access to the major players, he offers a nearly day-by-day account of the decision-making processes and power battles behind the headlines. Woodward's information is based on tape-recorded interviews of over a hundred sources (some unnamed), including four hours of exclusive interviews with the president, along with notes from cabinet meetings and access to some classified reports.
Woodward's analysis of President Bush's leadership style is especially fascinating. A self-described "gut player" who relies heavily on instinct, Bush comes across as a man of action continually pressing his cabinet for concrete results. The revelation that the president developed and publicly stated the so-called Bush Doctrine--the policy that the U.S. would not only go after terrorists everywhere but also those governments or groups which harbor them--without first consulting Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is particularly telling. Other principals are examined with equal scrutiny. Though National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice emerges as soft-spoken and even tentative during group meetings, it becomes clear that Bush is dependent on her for candid advice as well as for conveying his thoughts to his cabinet. The relationship between Powell and Rumsfeld (and to a lesser degree Powell and Cheney) is often strained, exposing their differences regarding how to deal with Iraq and whether coalition building or unilateralism is most appropriate. Woodward also describes how CIA director George Tenet prepared a paramilitary team to infiltrate Afghanistan to set the groundwork for invasion, and how this ushered in a new era of cooperation between the defense department and the CIA. A worthwhile and often enlightening read, this is a revealing and informative first draft of the Bush legacy.
With his unmatched investigative skill, Bob Woodward tells the behind-the-scenes story of how President George W. Bush and his top national security advisers, after the initial shock of the September 11 attacks, led the nation to war.
Extensive quotations from the secret deliberations of the National Security Council - -- and firsthand revelations of the private thoughts, concerns and fears of the president and his war cabinet - -- make Bush at War an unprecedented chronicle of a modern presidency in time of grave crisis.
Based on interviews with more than a hundred sources and four hours of exclusive interviews with the president, Bush at War reveals Bush's sweeping, almost grandiose, vision for remaking the world. "I'm not a textbook player, I'm a gut player," the president said.
Woodward's virtual wiretap into the White House Situation Room reveals a stunning group portrait of an untested president and his advisers, three of whom might themselves have made it to the presidency. In Bush at War, Bob Woodward once again delivers a reporting tour de force.
About the Author
Bob Woodward, an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post, has been a newspaper reporter and editor for 30 years. He has authored or coauthored eight No. 1 national non-fiction bestsellers. They include four books on the presidency -- All the President's Men, The Final Days, The Agenda, and Shadow -- and books on the Supreme Court (The Brethren), the Hollywood drug culture (Wired), the CIA (Veil), and the Pentagon (The Commanders). He is also author of national bestsellers on the presidential campaign (The Choice) and Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan (Maestro). He has two daughters, Tali and Diana, and lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Elsa Walsh, a writer for The New Yorker.