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"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he said we were at a "turning point" that history would mark as the time "the forces of terror began their long retreat."

State of Denial examines how the Bush administration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, to Congress, and often to themselves. Two days after the May report, the Pentagon told Congress, in a report required by law, that the "appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane in early 2007."

In this detailed inside story of a war-torn White House, Bob Woodward reveals how White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, with the indirect support of other high officials, tried for 18 months to get Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld replaced. The president and Vice President Cheney refused. At the beginning of Bush's second term, Stephen Hadley, who replaced Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser, gave the administration a "D minus" on implementing its policies. A SECRET report to the new Secretary of State Rice from her counselor stated that, nearly two years after the invasion, Iraq was a "failed state."

State of Denial reveals that at the urging of Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld, the most frequent outside visitor and Iraq adviser to President Bush is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who, haunted still by the loss in Vietnam, emerges as a hidden and potent voice.

Woodward reveals that the secretary of defense himself believes that the system of coordination among departments and agencies is broken, and in a SECRET May 1, 2006, memo, Rumsfeld stated, "the current system of government makes competence next to impossible."

State of Denial answers the core questions: What happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush make decisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And is there an achievable plan for victory?

Bob Woodward's third book on President Bush is a sweeping narrative -- from the first days George W. Bush thought seriously about running for president through the recruitment of his national security team, the war in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the struggle for political survival in the second term.

After more than three decades of reporting on national security decision making -- including his two #1 national bestsellers on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush at War (2002) and Plan of Attack (2004) -- Woodward provides the fullest account, and explanation, of the road Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the White House staff have walked.
Published: Simon & Schuster on Oct 2, 2006
ISBN: 9780743293259
List price: $15.99
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This enlightening and extremely well-written book examines how the BushAdministration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, toCongress, and often to themselves. It answers the core questions: Whatreally happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush makedecisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And isthere an achievable plan for victory? This is the third book Woodward haswritten on the Bush presidency. It follows "Bush At War" (2002) and "Planof Attack" (2004), and these three books will very likely take their placeas the definitive narrative of the entire debacle that is known as the BushAdministration. Woodward's no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is writing stylehasn't changed since the Watergate exposure and it is my belief that thesethree books provide what is likely the most complete account and explanationof the road that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the rest of that bunchhave taken this entire nation down for the past 8 years. I cannot recommendthis book highly enough. IMO, every American should read it. 5read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Fascinating behind the scenes glimpse of the dysfunctional White House, the power games, and Bush's inability to lead or make decisions. Overwhelming impression of a weak cheerleader. Woodward missed the predominant role of Cheney, undoubtedly because he was beholden to him. Woodward is a fauning despicable suckup, a far cry from what he used to be, but this was well-written and very engrossing at least.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bob Woodward, the legendary Washington Post reporter who helped to break open the Watergate story decades ago, offers his third (of four) glimpses into the Bush administration in "State of Denial," which focuses on the period between mid-2004 and the end of 2005. Woodward taps into his range of sources throughout Washington, evidently including several high placed Pentagon people, and a number of on-the-record interviews with several of the principle people to construct this look at the Iraq war.As usual, Woodward uncovers the details of many behind the scenes conversations and attitudes. The power struggles between the State Department and the Defense Department, hinted at in other reports and books, take center stage here. Unlike most of Woodward's other books, though, "State of Denial" has a clear villain, long-embattled Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld (whose resignation was accepted in the months after this book was published). Rumsfeld is portrayed as an aging power-seeker who evidently does not play very well with others, but one who cannot seem to accept the responsibility for the authority he seeks (and Woodward believes, he is tacitly granted by the president with regards to Iraq).This is not to suggest that others look particularly good in the book. As might be expected of reporting that chronicles a period in the war in which all the signs pointed towards failure, there's a lot of finger-pointing. The 'state of denial' of the title seems two-fold -- there is the obvious public sugar-coating about how the war in Iraq is going by virtually everyone in power that Woodward finds was prevalent even behind closed doors. But the 'state of denial' also seems to describe the key military and political players' refusal to accept ultimate responsibility for much of what was happening and would happen in Iraq, which led to a giant effort with little accountability for any of those leaders.Without accountability, little forward progress could be made towards improving security or infrastructure in Iraq. For months at a time, including during this period when insurgent attacks were skyrocketing in frequency and potency, there was little change in the American strategic effort. (In hindsight, Woodward is describing a vacuum into which a leader with a solid vision and the means to enact it might be successful, which may be what happened under Gen. David Petreus' leadership and the military surge in Iraq after the period Woodward chronicles in this book.) More than some of his other books, Woodward is an active narrator and interviewer in these pages, asking questions that he believes were not seriously considered by top officials. At times, he apparently believes it was his role as interrogator to push those he was interviewing to see alternative possibilities, rather than simply eliciting their view of events. This self-portrayal seems to be Woodward's guiding assessment of the situation, that the leadership was out of touch with reality, needing to be forcefully guided toward a more accurate view of the war. As such, the book can seem partisan at times, though I don't believe it is meant to be.Opponents of the war will find much that confirms their suspicions. Proponents may be frustrated by the performance of certain key players. Regardless, the book is a must-read first look at the George W. Bush administration's darkest time in Iraq, a fly-on-the-wall account of meetings where decisions seem to be as often avoided as made and of personalities that seem at odds with the necessities of the times.read more
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This enlightening and extremely well-written book examines how the BushAdministration avoided telling the truth about Iraq to the public, toCongress, and often to themselves. It answers the core questions: Whatreally happened after the invasion of Iraq? Why? How does Bush makedecisions and manage a war that he chose to define his presidency? And isthere an achievable plan for victory? This is the third book Woodward haswritten on the Bush presidency. It follows "Bush At War" (2002) and "Planof Attack" (2004), and these three books will very likely take their placeas the definitive narrative of the entire debacle that is known as the BushAdministration. Woodward's no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is writing stylehasn't changed since the Watergate exposure and it is my belief that thesethree books provide what is likely the most complete account and explanationof the road that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the rest of that bunchhave taken this entire nation down for the past 8 years. I cannot recommendthis book highly enough. IMO, every American should read it. 5
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Fascinating behind the scenes glimpse of the dysfunctional White House, the power games, and Bush's inability to lead or make decisions. Overwhelming impression of a weak cheerleader. Woodward missed the predominant role of Cheney, undoubtedly because he was beholden to him. Woodward is a fauning despicable suckup, a far cry from what he used to be, but this was well-written and very engrossing at least.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bob Woodward, the legendary Washington Post reporter who helped to break open the Watergate story decades ago, offers his third (of four) glimpses into the Bush administration in "State of Denial," which focuses on the period between mid-2004 and the end of 2005. Woodward taps into his range of sources throughout Washington, evidently including several high placed Pentagon people, and a number of on-the-record interviews with several of the principle people to construct this look at the Iraq war.As usual, Woodward uncovers the details of many behind the scenes conversations and attitudes. The power struggles between the State Department and the Defense Department, hinted at in other reports and books, take center stage here. Unlike most of Woodward's other books, though, "State of Denial" has a clear villain, long-embattled Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld (whose resignation was accepted in the months after this book was published). Rumsfeld is portrayed as an aging power-seeker who evidently does not play very well with others, but one who cannot seem to accept the responsibility for the authority he seeks (and Woodward believes, he is tacitly granted by the president with regards to Iraq).This is not to suggest that others look particularly good in the book. As might be expected of reporting that chronicles a period in the war in which all the signs pointed towards failure, there's a lot of finger-pointing. The 'state of denial' of the title seems two-fold -- there is the obvious public sugar-coating about how the war in Iraq is going by virtually everyone in power that Woodward finds was prevalent even behind closed doors. But the 'state of denial' also seems to describe the key military and political players' refusal to accept ultimate responsibility for much of what was happening and would happen in Iraq, which led to a giant effort with little accountability for any of those leaders.Without accountability, little forward progress could be made towards improving security or infrastructure in Iraq. For months at a time, including during this period when insurgent attacks were skyrocketing in frequency and potency, there was little change in the American strategic effort. (In hindsight, Woodward is describing a vacuum into which a leader with a solid vision and the means to enact it might be successful, which may be what happened under Gen. David Petreus' leadership and the military surge in Iraq after the period Woodward chronicles in this book.) More than some of his other books, Woodward is an active narrator and interviewer in these pages, asking questions that he believes were not seriously considered by top officials. At times, he apparently believes it was his role as interrogator to push those he was interviewing to see alternative possibilities, rather than simply eliciting their view of events. This self-portrayal seems to be Woodward's guiding assessment of the situation, that the leadership was out of touch with reality, needing to be forcefully guided toward a more accurate view of the war. As such, the book can seem partisan at times, though I don't believe it is meant to be.Opponents of the war will find much that confirms their suspicions. Proponents may be frustrated by the performance of certain key players. Regardless, the book is a must-read first look at the George W. Bush administration's darkest time in Iraq, a fly-on-the-wall account of meetings where decisions seem to be as often avoided as made and of personalities that seem at odds with the necessities of the times.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
An informative overview that pulls together the motives, policies and key characters that have shaped the war. Unfortunately, people who have paid close attention to ongoing developments might not find as many "wow factors" in this text as those who haven't followed current events. I also made the mistake of reading a book highlights article in a weekly magazine prior to tackling the larger work. The digested version hit on all the key themes. Still, Woodward's work is thorough and accessible.
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Fast, engrossing, dare I say, journalist, read - stories well told as they happen, with little commentary. Whereas Fiasco (a worthy book to read in parallel) focused on the problems of the military in Iraq, State of Denial details the political machinations that got us into this mess. While most of the juicy tidbits in the book were well publicized in the press, I think the underlying themes of the book were a little ignored. As a collective entity, the upper echelons of power in Washington (including the military) were consumed with a careerist ethos which lead them to prioritize maintain their personal power over all else. Consequently, when given the oppotunity for face time with the president, the universal reaction was simply to tell him (and his merry band of gentleman) what they wanted to hear - i.e., mision accomplished, all going smoothly. The way it is presented by Woodward, Rumsfeld did his best to create an atmosphere where everyone knew not to question his wisdom, Bush on the other hand, simply failed to ask probing questions and invited dissenting opinions into his inner sanctum. In fact in the book details on two instance where Bush exposed himself to dissenting opinion - both of which could not be avoided - meetings with Republician senators and hospital visits with wounded troops and their families.State of Denial, like Fiasco, appears to cover to 2006, but in reality, 2003 and 2004 are covered in detail, 2005 and 2006, in precis.
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Informative, reavealing, and frightening, I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in what is wrong with government in general and the Bush administration specifically. Occasionally Woodward seems to make the same point more than once, but this book is a call for change. Regime change right here at home.
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