2011 Audie Award Finalist for Nonfiction
In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward provides the most intimate and sweeping portrait yet of the young president as commander in chief. Drawing on internal memos, classified documents, meeting notes and hundreds of hours of interviews with most of the key players, including the president, Woodward tells the inside story of Obama making the critical decisions on the Afghanistan War, the secret campaign in Pakistan and the worldwide fight against terrorism.
At the core of Obama’s Wars is the unsettled division between the civilian leadership in the White House and the United States military as the president is thwarted in his efforts to craft an exit plan for the Afghanistan War.
“So what’s my option?” the president asked his war cabinet, seeking alternatives to the Afghanistan commander’s request for 40,000 more troops in late 2009. “You have essentially given me one option...It’s unacceptable.”
“Well,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates finally said, “Mr. President, I think we owe you that option.”
It never came. An untamed Vice President Joe Biden pushes relentlessly to limit the military mission and avoid another Vietnam. The vice president frantically sent half a dozen handwritten memos by secure fax to Obama on the eve of the final troop decision.
President Obama’s ordering a surge of 30,000 troops and pledging to start withdrawing U.S. forces by July 2011 did not end the skirmishing.
General David Petraeus, the new Afghanistan commander, thinks time can be added to the clock if he shows progress. “I don’t think you win this war,” Petraeus said privately. “This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”
Hovering over this debate is the possibility of another terrorist attack in the United States. The White House led a secret exercise showing how unprepared the government is if terrorists set off a nuclear bomb in an American city—which Obama told Woodward is at the top of the list of what he worries about all the time.
Verbatim quotes from secret debates and White House strategy sessions—and firsthand accounts of the thoughts and concerns of the president, his war council and his generals—reveal a government in conflict, often consumed with nasty infighting and fundamental disputes.
Woodward has discovered how the Obama White House really works, showing that even more tough decisions lie ahead for the cerebral and engaged president.
Obama’s Wars offers the reader a stunning, you-are-there account of the president, his White House aides, military leaders, diplomats and intelligence chiefs in this time of turmoil and danger.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Detailed and Thorough but Simultaneously Misleading
This book starts late in the game and because of this the author comes to certain conclusions he represents as facts that if he had as good an understanding of what happened before Obama he would realize were false. When I first read the book I thought of it as one of the most objective and factual political books I had read in a long time. I would suggest reading it to get a feel for what Obama has done with the wars himself but avoid placing judgement on Bush and take what the author says about the wars pre-Obama with a grain of salt. To understand the war before Obama and Bush's involvement I strongly suggest Bush's 'Decision Points', obviously written by bush in his best interest but it feels surprisingly honest and humble and does a lot to clear up the holes and misunderstandings of this book.
Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward
Insightful and very informative. I'm not a big fan of Obama's, but this book gives you real insight on the utter mess he inherited from the Bush administration and the neocons pulling GW's strings. May God give Obama strength to go against the Generals and get us out of a war that is not only unwinnable but financially unsustainable. Another great book by Woodward.
War planning is pretty dull
This is a typical Bob Woodward book that goes into detail (sometimes painfully so) about the planning and execution of the war in Afghanistan. However, unlike many of his previous works, since the war is still taking place, this story has no end. It might not even be near ending. The bulk of the book recounts many, many meetings the president had with his war council and others, as they try to develop some sort of exit strategy for the US military. If you're looking for shocking political intrigue or heart wrenching war stories, you won't find them here. As an historic documentation for posterity, I suppose it does its job, but war planning can be pretty dry stuff.