Customer Reviews for

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

82 out of 89 people found this review helpful.

Having actually red the book and NOT the hype of the reviews, I

Having actually red the book and NOT the hype of the reviews, I can honestly say that this is a good read.

I cannot however, figure out why anyone of either political party affiliation can walk away from this book thinking "their" guy was a hero. 

Secretary ...
Having actually red the book and NOT the hype of the reviews, I can honestly say that this is a good read.

I cannot however, figure out why anyone of either political party affiliation can walk away from this book thinking "their" guy was a hero. 

Secretary Gates is candid in his descriptions of the culture and attitudes of BOTH White House Administrations. He never truly bashes either and is forthright in his descriptions. A great book by a great American be he pro Bush or pro Obama. I would like to say for the record, that I clicked here to see reviews of the the WORK not to read comments of a political nature.

posted by BNA1 on January 14, 2014

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Most Helpful Critical Review

15 out of 195 people found this review helpful.

I love how the Bush-adoring morons love to call the current admi

I love how the Bush-adoring morons love to call the current administration unconstitutional. I'd love to read how Gates helped the Bush junta drive the United States into unilateral war after unilateral war,. Perhaps he can help delusional right-wing fools find Iraq's W...
I love how the Bush-adoring morons love to call the current administration unconstitutional. I'd love to read how Gates helped the Bush junta drive the United States into unilateral war after unilateral war,. Perhaps he can help delusional right-wing fools find Iraq's WMD cache that supposedly was visible from space. Or maybe the chemical weapons. 
Of course, nobody on the right will ever be able to retrace the billions of dollars that somehow made it back to Crawford, Texas and Saudi Arabia as a result.
Ghostwritten by Prince Bandhar, this book will help chowderheaded righties finish revising history with their own psychopathic version of history just in time to try to elect another warmongering joke of a president. A tip to the writer: Use crayon and Big Chief tablet if you want to cater to the hard-core republican audience better.

posted by 18589340 on January 14, 2014

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  • Posted January 14, 2014

    Having actually red the book and NOT the hype of the reviews, I

    Having actually red the book and NOT the hype of the reviews, I can honestly say that this is a good read.

    I cannot however, figure out why anyone of either political party affiliation can walk away from this book thinking "their" guy was a hero. 

    Secretary Gates is candid in his descriptions of the culture and attitudes of BOTH White House Administrations. He never truly bashes either and is forthright in his descriptions. A great book by a great American be he pro Bush or pro Obama. I would like to say for the record, that I clicked here to see reviews of the the WORK not to read comments of a political nature.

    82 out of 89 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2014

    Please B&N! Please B&N delete the reviews or comments from guests that have not read the book!

    Please delete to comments, that are not reviews, from guests that have not read this book! This is not supposed to be a political soap box.

    31 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2014

    Insight into actual decision making. Not just a self lauding pil

    Insight into actual decision making. Not just a self lauding pile of self serving crap. Love the ridiculous left pundit harping on how the *right* use the book to supposedly support their position.  Clearly if one actually READ the book, one would realize Gates bent over backwards to be fair about an administration he was at odds with, soback the partisam truck up o ye disgruntled lefty and read the bloody book before yowling.

    30 out of 46 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Robert Gates has written an extremely interesting book and I fin

    Robert Gates has written an extremely interesting book and I find it very hard to put down especially since it is a book on history.  No matter what your political affiliation may be, this book is on target with what the responsibilities are at the top of the food chain in Washington.  I would enjoy meeting this man in person and talking about how he came about with the desire to write this .  Here is a man who has worked for both sides of the political parties in Washington and survived.  The best part in my opinion of what he rights about is his compassion to the military personnel.  His desires to make it right for all to serve should make him a perfect nomination for the highest award that can be given out by our President to individuals who make a definitive change to our government - Robert Gates is one of those individuals.  Look forward to reading more of his books.  This book should be required reading for seniors in high school and government  studies in college.

    29 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2014

    Great book!  This is not a read for Obama sheeple that refuse to

    Great book!  This is not a read for Obama sheeple that refuse to believe anything except "sunshine and lollipops" from one of the most unconstitutional administrations in U.S. history.

    26 out of 81 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2014

    Robert Gates' memoir is thoughtful and personal. I appreciated G

    Robert Gates' memoir is thoughtful and personal. I appreciated Gates' insider understanding of people and situations that I only read about or hear on Sunday morning shows or when I am aware someone who may be making a significant difference for Americans are discussing something compelling. As a Marine wife, I became critical not so much of Bush as I became of what I knew was a sincere regard and appreciation for the cost to families like mine but of his inability to pull the best out of what I recognized when I voted for him, one of the strongest Cabinets of any Administration. Now I understand better why. I also feel a little solaced in that in 2008 there really was not a good candidate on the ballot. I even wanted to like McCain. His family is decent at least. Any NCO's considering whether this is worth the money right as they are leaving the military, should definitely pick it up! Then go to your home of residence and sign up to run against any one of the people we have in Washington DC. All of the House of Representatives get changed like diapers if the nation gets tired of the stench. The ones in the Senate have to reek like a slaughterhouse before their offices get changed. This book will encourage you whether you are a Democrat or Republican that the status quo in Washington was set to change and today, as nationally concerned private citizens who care about America I pray it inspires one of those of you who were once naive and free to honor your brothers and sisters. Go home and get sworn in again next year. Then you will truly honor those who gave all and now, "Rest easy."

    19 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2014

    Politics aside, fantastic read and interesting perspective!!!! B

    Politics aside, fantastic read and interesting perspective!!!!
    Barnes and Noble needs to police their Rating section to delete the spam 1-3 star ratings on this title, over 15 of the sub 4 star reviews were off topic spam placed to decrease the overall rating of this title.

    18 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2014

    Great book!

    Read this book.

    15 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2014

    Truth and Honest

    Interesting read and eye opener.

    12 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2014

    Truth Hurts

    This may well scare the hell out of obama

    9 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2014

    great read no matter what your political affiliation. This is ou

    great read no matter what your political affiliation. This is our country and more important than dem., rep, indep. or whatever.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2014

    Memoirs of a Secretary of War

    Great read, a must for everyone who loves the country...

    7 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2014

    Ejaybin Bodre

    The book is good

    6 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2014

    Interesting, but scary, see the inside workings of the White House

    A good read but a little slow at times. It was interesting, but scary, see the inside workings of the White House. The Obama White House’s distrust of the military is disappointing but not unexpected. The Gordian Knot is Congress and their pet projects. Money being spent on waste, while the basic needs of the solder and sailor is pushed aside or worst cut to show “political resolve”. There needs to be a way to for the military to rejected projects that they feel are not needed.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2014

    Worth reading, government is more complicated than one might think.

    Nice, straight forward description of Bill Gates' experiences as Secretary of Defense. It is politely written,fair representation of those with whom he interacted, and demonstrates how government works. His presentation of thinking on the Afghan war and the limitations that existed is most interesting.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    Military industrial complex is alive and well and only the busin

    Military industrial complex is alive and well and only the business of politics is more dangerous to our future.  
    Gates has written  an exceptional work - page turning read that clears the smoke and mirrors approach to
    governmental decision making.  Where are the statesman who will weigh all decisions by their contribution
    to national goals and not by the impact on their next election, next executive position or next special interest
    monetary contribution?

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2014

    I am an Army vet whose opinion of Bob Gates was not very high wh

    I am an Army vet whose opinion of Bob Gates was not very high when I started to read his book. And there was a section that made me want to shake my head, but I continued and was glad I did. His story helped to restore my belief that there are decent people in this world and much of the junk we now call news today is exactly that, junk. Bob Gates' background stories on how things work or don't work in politics made for a good read. His sense of fairness came through in all chapters. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone with an open mind and love of this country. I'm very glad he did not appear to lean either left or right as he portrayed the fights and squabbles that now consume so much time and are passed off as political discourse nowadays.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2014

    The only Secretary of Defense and one of few cabinet members to

    The only Secretary of Defense and one of few cabinet members to have served two successive U.S. presidents (Bush'43 and Obama) of different parties, Robert M. Gates was Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. His memoirs Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War could have been title "I hated my job, but somebody had to do it." Gates takes over 600 pages making sure the reader knows that.
    This is a book more about personalities and feelings rather than facts. Gates was appointed by Bush'43 to replace Donald Rumsfeld and to get the U.S. honorably extricated from one "bad" war, Iraq, while simultaneously stemming the downward spiral of the other "good" war, Afghanistan. The author makes the point several times that, in his opinion, both wars need no justification, and, hence, presumably no explanation. The "war" for Gates was in Washington D.C., not the Middle East.
    The first half of Duty describes his interactions with the Bush'43 administration, Congress, and the Pentagon brass over strategy. His vision of D.C. intransigence, stupidity, self interest and greed is disturbing. Gates makes sure that you see him as a brave knight firmly on the side of the troops in the field battling the forces of evil D.C. politicians. Noble indeed, but could anyone really in these times really get away with any other position. Well, maybe Don Rumsfeld?
    While painting himself convincingly as a compassionate leader and highly competent manager, Gates nevertheless repeatedly hints throughout Duty that he, perhaps, protests too much in claiming to hate his job. He repeatedly uses "fire" and "fired" with somewhat too much relish to describe civilian and military re-assignments.
    As noted, there is very little "meat" in this book, except for several "juicy" commentary on D.C. notables. Therefore, one tends to focus on the few substantive facts that Gates does present with greater scrutiny. An example provides some insight into Gate's particular worldview. Having carefully documented his management credentials, Gates at one point makes the following observation with respect to the Defense budget:
    With defense spending at 15 percent of all federal expenditures (it had been over 50 percent when Eisenhower made his speech about the military-industrial complex), the lowest percentage since WW II, I was convinced that the defense budget was a very modest part of the nation's fiscal problems. (page 560)

    Given Gates' management skills such a statement can only be viewed as somewhat disingenuous. The author knows full-well the absolute magnitude of the Defense budget has in fact increased somewhat steadily since WW II. The reason that the proportion of Defense spending has declined from the highs of the post-WW II era is that the rest of the federal budget has increased even faster than the Defense budget. Two now-enormous budget items - Social Security and Medicare - have grown to dominate the Federal budget post mid-1960s - there just wasn't much other Federal spending in the 1950s to compete with the defense budget. As a proportion of the GDP, the Defense budget has increased more than twice since 1950. It may still be a "...modest part of the nation's fiscal problems", but it is not a negligible part.
    If you are interested in the personalities of government decision makers, this is a book for you. If you want to understand why certain decisions were made during this period, read someone else's memoirs.
    Richard R. Pardi Environmental Science William Paterson University

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

    I had a hard time reading the entire book at one sitting. Had t

    I had a hard time reading the entire book at one sitting. Had to put it down and read something else for awhile. Why? The detail, in fighting, posturing and politics is just too much even though it is what occurs in DC. I understand why Gates goes into so much detail but it does get tedious after awhile.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    no insights - just ok

    a lot of justification for decisions made. not much new.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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