If there ever was a crystalline indictment of a president's wartime decisions, this is it. In the third volume exploring the political carnage and bureaucratic infighting prompted by the September 11 attacks, legendary investigative journalist Woodward (Bush at War, Plan of Attack) dissects the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq. The picture isn't a pretty one, and Woodward's disarming, matter-of-fact prose makes his page-turning account more powerful still. The incompetence and arrogance on display in the highest levels of the executive branch is as stunning-and as unsettling-as the dismay voiced by civilians and soldiers who endeavor and fail to open the administration's eyes to the failures in Iraq, from the complex security challenges to simple logistical matters like securing sufficient translators. Unable to manage the war they unleashed, the principals-President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and national security advisor, later Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice-fare poorly here. Many of the charges are familiar-the president lacks inquisitiveness, the vice president is obsessed with WMD, Rice is ""the worst security advisor in modern times""-but gel anew in the light of Woodward's explication. The breakout star of this disturbing spectacle is Rumsfeld, who presides over the conflict with a supreme self confidence that literally leaves Woodward at a loss for words. If journalism is the first page of history, then Woodward's opus will be required reading for any would-be historians of the time.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006 Release date: 10/01/2006 Genre: Nonfiction