Obama's Wars

Obama's Wars

by Bob Woodward
3.3 358


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Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439172490
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 09/27/2010
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Bob Woodward is an associate editor at The Washington Post, where he has worked for forty-four years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first for The Washington Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, and later for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has authored or coauthored twelve #1 national nonfiction bestsellers. He has two daughters, Tali and Diana, and lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, writer Elsa Walsh.


Washington, D.C.

Date of Birth:

March 26, 1943

Place of Birth:

Geneva, Illinois


B.A., Yale University, 1965

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Obama's Wars 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 358 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a liberal late 20-something liberal I appreciate Bob Woodward's unbiased and incredibly honest and well researched books and articles. This book is a great review of the current problems in Obama's White House. To those liberals who are rating this book low because it hurts your impression of someone who made themselves out to be the messiah... get over it, the truth is the truth, ugly or not. Remember cheering him on when he exposed the insanity GW's White House and accepting his writing as gospel truth? Well the same thing applies here. To those conservatives who rate this book highly because it exposes Obama's problems... stop, your people can't get it right either. What ever happened to reading a book before rating it? Informative and truthful. An easy cover-to-cover read in two days. I felt like I walked away with more information on Obama's White House than I have had to this point. Woodward does a great job of pointing out the issues but also pointing out that not everything is terrible. I highly recommend this book
MJT More than 1 year ago
I will confess up-front that I am not a fan of our President, nor did I vote for him, however, as a retired military person, I can appreciate the difficulty in dealing with issues that are inherited by virtue of being placed in or obtaining a new position or promotion. I have always felt that leadership is important, but so are those individuals filling key positions of trust, which can help or hurt one in getting a job done. Clearly, a President has a tremendous amount of responsibility and those he choses for his cabinet can have an incredible effect in carrying out and determining policy, thus aiding in success or leading to failure. Mr. Woodward's book does a good job in presenting the difficulties of a new administration dealing with an on-going war, and in this case, two wars. As with any government buracracy, there are differences in views of individuals, however, in this book one can see how these differing views complicate defining solutions. I certainly appreciate all those who have sacrificed in our recent wars, but I more than ever, think we need to figure a way out of the Afgahnistan quagmire. This book is definitely worth the read.
Uncle_Barry More than 1 year ago
This is must read !!! Woodward's previous books were covered in two 60 Minute Shows. Sadly, CBS is playing bias politics. Diane Sawyer was choosen to interview Bob. That alone tells you, why everyone should read this book. We need to know if we want 4 more years from this president.
pccoder More than 1 year ago
Typically, unless you have a genuine distaste for the person who is the subject of policital books, it provides for really dry reading. For this book, that is not the case. I have found it to be a very interesting behind the scenes drama between the President of the United States and the people who guide him towards both success and failure in his new leadership position. The average American has no idea what goes on in the closed meetings between the POTUS and the Cabinet. This book sheds light on this and so much more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"obamas wars" is a master piece and very hard to put down. this best seller clears up the mystery why we are having prblems in afganistan. though countless interviews with whitehouse staff and officalls and endless research the arthur documets how obama is not intrested in the advice or council of his top generals who are on the front lines and this bestseller furtur goes on to show a staff who is at odds with one another this is is a serious concern whean there is a war going on great gift idea for a friend or family member.
Love_Politics More than 1 year ago
This book was decently written but it still felt like I was reading a summary of someone's diary or day planner. I was pleased that this was not as Obama centric as the title implies but, more or less, focuses on the individuals that make up the president's inner circle and how they influence decision making in the White House. I was also pleased that it did not seem to be politically biased. Woodward did not constantly harp on either political party and if there was something said it was a quote from one of the key players in the Obama Administration. I did not appreciate the intermittent snipes at the military leadership but these were also (as far as I can recall) directly quoted. This is a good book to read if you enjoy politics and/or international relations or are (significantly) interested in the factors leading to the decision to commit 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
campaignvet More than 1 year ago
New book. New president. New policy. But an old road to travel down: how does a presidental candidate get his vision implemented once he becomes President of the United States. A new President who believes that the road to terror will be largely fought with pressured diplomacy in Pakistan and war in Afghanistan. But for Barack Obama the biggest battle that the 44th President of the United States may ever fight will be in his own administration. No one brings us into the inner workings of the White House - the intrigue, the politics, the manuevers and the power clicks then Bob Woodward. For the author,it his fifth book (previous four on the Bush Administration)regarding presidental responses following the impact of 9/11. The author provides intimate details on the infighting that takes place within the administration and how the military is reviewed skeptically by Obama's executive staff and how the executive staff even doesn't trust Hillary Clinton (perceived political ambitions) and her staff. Furthermore add a Vice-President whose temperment is as hot as a fireplace poker on a cold winter's night expressing his opposition in high ranking meetings to a philosophy that eventually is adopted by the President. What happens at first from all this infighting is very litle with a humble Secretary of Defense admitting to the President that we (the advisors) owe you a plan for review. How that plan is developed,reviewed, edited and approved finally by the President is what this book is all about. Woodward allows the readers to makes their own decisions whether the President was strong enough to get a plan that he truly believed in or did the military wear him down. Were the troop numbers really acceptable to him? How about the philosophy of counter insurgency? How about the timetable for withdrawal? Can any of this truly be accomplished given that many advisors in the administration feel that victory in Afghanistan is near to impossible? What is the path to victory in overcoming obstacles far more severe than in Iraq, in terms of Afghanistan's poverty, literacy, corruption, fractionalization and highlighted by its weak and highly volatile leader in President Hamid Karzai? How much pressure will the President really put on Pakistan leaders to force out the terrorist hiding in their country,who are causing havoc as they cross the border into Afghanistan? Will or can the Administration make a deal with a Taliban in Afghanistan as they did with the Sunnis in Iraq? Only time will tell. Therfore,I guess we will have to wait till Woodward's sixth book to get some of these answers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love Obama, you'll love this book. I don't love Obama. Very dissapointed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This may not be an entertaining book for those who are not actively connected to any campaign. But, this is an important example of new vision from a respected demodue! I am grateful for this contribution.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Hours after his election as the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama learned details of the top-secret circumstances that defined the Afghanistan conflict, a war characterized by inadequate resources, incomplete planning, inchoate strategy and ongoing bloodshed. Bob Woodward of The Washington Post applied his legendary reporting skills to reams of meeting notes, classified reports and interviews to recreate the often tempestuous policy making on Afghanistan that marked Obama's first 18 months in office. Woodward's trip to Afghanistan and his unfettered access to top officials in more than 100 interviews, including more than an hour with the president, put you at the center of marathon meetings, disputes and discussions peopled by contrasting personalities and their shifting allegiances. getAbstract recommends this masterful work of reporting, an engrossing book on how the US is managing a war "with no good options."
SgtWalt More than 1 year ago
This book is well done. Mr Woodward has done an excellent journalist's job of reporting the inadequacies and the stupidity of the members of the Obama administration including the big putz himself, Mr. Obmama. Mr Woodward depicts the nieve approach that Obama and Co. have taken in their approach to Iraq and Afghanistan. God help us.
Paul Frost More than 1 year ago
Pure case of rookie President overwhelmed by the complexities of the process and the magnitude of the issues.
getoverit More than 1 year ago
The book simply had to much 'he said/she said' connotations in it. This was a real disappointing read that I cannot recommend.
Indiapapa More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by this author that I've ever read. I actually got it for my wife when I ordered another for myself. I read my book and she hadn't finished the Woodward book. Now I understand. It's a cure for insomnia. It may be the most boring non-textbook that I've ever read. For the most part each chapter is a conversation, and the chapters aren't titled. Mr Woodward could use some editing help, so that the book has a better flow. Having said all of that, the author has an earned reputation for carefully checking his facts. So, the reader can believe that what he reads is legit. I consider the authors handling of his subject matter to be even handed. For one who has a military background, and has served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, all I can say is, "Welcome to the Real World Barry!" It's torturous to watch as Barry struggles to pull numbers from some bodily orifice as the military professionals are trying to give him advice based on years of experience. Gee Barry it's kinda different being in charge huh? Hopefully, experience and reason trumps naivete and vacuity in 2012, unlike 2008. America deserves a competent, capable, and seasoned leader. This book clearly illustrates that we don't have one now.
LVLADY More than 1 year ago
When I realized Bob Woodward would be writing a book on the Obama Administration I knew I had to have it. His books are well-researched. And I appreciate the fact that his assistant is given proper credit. (I am a disgruntled research assistant of the past. Can you tell? Smile.) I am a retired instructor of history and librarian on the college level as well, and when I read non-fiction I find myself wondering how I would present the book to get and hold my studets' attention, to help them want to read and remember it. Answers to the who/what of the following would be my choice: (1)Water bugs (2)Whiskey-tango-fox trot moments (3)"Poignant Vision" (4)"Counter Terrorism Plus" (5)"Lessons on Reconciliation" (6)Political fly paper (7)TTP Network (8)The Mental Problems of a Key Foreign Leader (9)"Constant Feedback Loop" (10)The Situation Room (11)Interview in "Rolling Stone." (12)October Midnight at Dover Air base. (I listened and listened and listened again to that account). The character sketches especially of the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State were insightful. Colin Powell's role was surprising. And, of course, the in-fighting between the military and civilian players which proved they were anything but team players was enlightening and unsettling. Because of vision limitations, I listen-read and must commend actor Boyd Gaines for his well-paced, multi-accented reading. But, I now know I will always opt for the unabridged. It's every word for me, thank you!
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People are brainwashed by this nonsence!!!!!!! And the comment about how republicans who cant spell is because im twelve dummy! Srry i have anger problen but obama is bad news! You will see...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Obamaa Awsome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Until I read this book, I had never realized how brutal presidents are. Obama continued the afghan war until 2014 simply for reeelection purposes. Afganistan will NEVER be won, yet our brave young men and women are being killed and maimed just so that a president can be reelected. Shame not only on Obama but many presidents in the past that have done the very same thing. Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Bush 2.
jnewman1 More than 1 year ago
very well written Book. I would suggest the Obama supporters to all read "A Dream Come True", by Noor F Amin. This author is 17 years old and talks about all the accomplishments of the president and tells the American people why they should vote for him this november.