A former senior official in the Clinton Administration himself, David Rothkopf served with and knows personally many of the NSC's key players of the past twenty-five years. In Running the World he pulls back the curtain on this shadowy world to explore its inner workings, its people, their relationships, their contributions and the occasions when they have gone wrong. He traces the group's evolution from the final days of the Second World War to the post-Cold War realities of global terrorexploring its triumphs, its human dramas and most recently, what many consider to be its breakdown at a time when we needed it most.
Drawing on an extraordinary series of insider interviews with policy makers including Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, senior officials of the Bush Administration, and over 130 others, the book offers unprecedented insights into what must change if America is to maintain its unprecedented worldwide leadership in the decades ahead.
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What People are Saying About This
James Woolsey, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
The National Security Council is the mechanism by which history's most powerful nation deals with the outside world in telling its story Mr. Rothkopf has combined graceful prose, thorough research, and an eye for the heart of the matter. Not to be missed.
General Wesley Clark, former Democratic Candidate for President, former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.
The definitive history of the National Security Council. With unique personal insight, David Rothkopf vividly illustrates how a small group of people around the President has shaped the major events of our time. This is a must-read for anyone interested in International Affairs.
Samuel R. Berger, former U.S. National Security Advisor
David Rothkopf's Running The World does masterful job of telling the story of our modern Presidents and their inner circles, using meticulous research, lively writing and his extraordinary access to the key players to bring critical events in recent world history alive. It is likely to be seen as the definitive history of the NSC.
Robert M. Gates, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, former Deputy National Security Advisor
"Running the World is not only an outstanding history of the NSC, it uniquely portrays the personal chemistry among each president's most senior advisers and between those advisers and the presidents they served. Rothkopf has captured the critical impact of personality and personal relationships at the highest level in American national security decision-making over the past half a century. Agree or not with the author's prescription for the future, this is the best -- and most readable -- book on the history of the NSC I have seen.
Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation
At last, a real history of the National Security Council, from its origins after World War II through its transformative Nixon-Kissinger era to its present role at the center of American national security policy-making. As an insider, Rothkopf knows how it works; as a skilled storyteller and historian, he brings it to life, in a book rich with new insights and new information.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor
An impressively comprehensive, revealing, and insightful examination of the most powerful foreign policy making institution in the U.S. Government and of the key individuals who made it so. Invaluable to scholars, practitioners and concerned citizens.
Jeffrey E. Garten, Dean, Yale School of Management, former official in four U.S. presidential administrations
Deeply researched, extraordinarily well written, and filled with colorful anecdotes and the kind of insider information that comes only with extensive interviewing, David Rothkopf's book is both an essential read and a highly entertaining one.
The history of America's national security for the last 55 years has been the history of the NSC system and the NSC Staff. Rothkopf expertly captures how the skills and shortcomings of the NSC Staff have over the years translated into America's successes and failures, with real consequences for people around the world.
(Richard Clarke, author, Against All Enemies, former U.S. Counter-Terrorism Czar and senior official in the administrations of four U.S. Presidents)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was disappointed with the overall effect of the book. The first half makes an excellent argument about the importance of the structure of the NSC and its ability to craft the U.S.'s involvement in international affairs--the better the working of the NSC, the more the U.S. is able to control events for its perceived good. Unfortunately, this controlled analysis decayed by the end of the book. Most notably, by the last chapter, Rothkopf was more occupied identifying the errors made in the run up to Iraq rather than summarizing overall lessons learned from the evolutionary process the NSC has undergone since 1947. Perhaps this is more a critique of his writing style than the actual content. It was a "mission drift" of sorts within a book.Nonetheless, if you want to understand the key methods involved in forming U.S. foreign policy since the advent of the NSC process, this book helps a lot. Probably not as much as something like Strategies of Containment by John Lewis Gaddis, or one of LaFeber's books on Diplomatic History. Still useful for delving even deeper into some of the personal relationships behind the policy making itself.
While this book had the potential to provide insight into the origin and evolution of the National Security Council, the author lets his political bias get in the way. The book tends to be more about what Nixon, Reagan, Bush(41) and Bush(43) have done wrong while glorifying everything done by the democratic presidents. The author actually condemns some actions by republican presidents while commending the exact same action by a democrat. The author also leaves out vital information from some stories in an effort to make it support his conclusions.
Well researched, insightful, entertaining, fair and highly relevant to this day and age: a gift to both serious and casual students of the national security process. David Rothkopf, with this book, focuses on one of the best kept secrets of the foreign policy apparatus. An indispensible read for anyone interested in the workings of the executive branch of government.