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Chain of Command
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Chain of Command

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  727 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Since September 11, 2001, Seymour M. Hersh has riveted readers -- and outraged the Bush Administration -- with his explosive stories in The New Yorker, including his headline-making pieces on the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Now, Hersh brings together what he has learned, along with new reporting, to answer the critical question of the last four years: How did America ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published September 13th 2004)
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Depressing as hell. I'd heard an interview with Hersh at the time who said that there was more video taped evidence that would make the Abu Ghraib stuff look like child's play. But it sounds like the CIA has disposed of those to avoid any further "embarrassment." This book is both stomach-turning and necessary. And as long as large numbers of people get their opinions from Fox News and Country and Western songs, books like this are inconsequential in the near term.

But historians will (hopefully)
Hersh actually does journalism. This is the book that should be assigned years from now in the history classes teaching this travesty of a war. Again, I am horrified at the willful incompetence of the Bush Administration's foreign policy. If anyone doubted the idea of a cabal attempting to fashion world events in their favor, they should read more about the NeoCons at the heart of the post-9/11 landscape. Terrible people making others suffer and die.

This book is a good overall primer on how the
Tom Schulte
Seymour (Sy) Myron Hersh is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist who first gained worldwide recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. His 2004 reports on the US military's mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison gained much attention and this is his book on that. Like with My Lai, the audiobook explorers the culture that make the atrocity po ...more
The American Conservative
'Of all the critical analyses of Seymour Hersh’s latest book, the best and most telling review appeared before Chain of Command came off the press. The Pentagon press office, in a pre-emptive strike designed to neutralize a blow they knew was coming, had this to say:

Based on media inquiries, it appears that Mr. Seymour Hersh’s upcoming book apparently contains many of the numerous unsubstantiated allegations and inaccuracies which he has made in the past based upon unnamed sources.

The release go
A fine companion to Weisberg's 'The Bush Tragedy', giving the straight up investigative journalist story behind Weisberg's emotional play.

Hersh's dispassionate reporting eventually gives way to an impassioned bewilderment at the things he has reported. Towards the end of the book, written in 2004:
'There is so much about this presidency that we don't know, and may never learn... How did they do it? How did eight or nine neoconservatives who believed that a war in Iraq was the answer to internatio
interesting insight into how the us government used selective intelligence to escalate the war on terror. excellent content, but a bit long. probably would have enjoyed reading his pieces in the new yorker.
It was OK. Reading it in 2012, most of the contents are essentially old hat.

"Chain of Command" is a political rant with a lot of claims, but not much support. He rarely supports his claims with facts, and his arguments are clearly not-logical. He begins his book by claiming that the Interrogations at Guantanamo have had no results, that the intelligence wasn't satisfying the needs of the Pentagon. This obviously isn't taking the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into account. He pushes forth the id
Nov 26, 2007 Ollie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to learn the truth
You don't have to be a genius, or even up on current news, to know that America fucked up in Iraq. To learn the intricacies of America's mistakes, however -- the sheer lack of competence and vision -- is enough to fry anyone's braincells and leave them cowering in the corner like a psychiatric ward patient. Hersh, a Pulitzer-prize winnining journalist, exposes the turmoil many countries have been thrust into since 9/11 and how directly it is related to the Neo-cons close to Bush. The picture tha ...more
Brad Lucht
Listed below is a very small representative sample of what you will learn from this book that you didn't learn from your local newspaper or television station.
"After September 11, the Syrian leader, Bashar Assad, initiated the delivery of Syrian intelligence to the United States. The Syrians had compiled hundreds of files on Al Qaeda, including dossiers on the men who participated -- and others who wanted to participate -- in the September 11th attacks. Syria also penetrated
Graham Mcmillan
Somewhat dated now, since it deals primarily in the Iraq war - its buildup and mistakes in planning and (mis)management. The book goes a great way towards explaining what went wrong in the "WMD" debate - how did we get it so wrong. According to the author, Rumsfeld and Cheney openly disrespected the Intelligence professionals because they often refused to stake a claim based on partial or imperfect information. So Rumsfeld and Cheney basically formed their own Intelligence system, based on selec ...more
Sadly the questions raised in this book published in 2004 remain unanswered - it's probably believed by far too many people that there was a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. The policy mistakes and violence of this illegal war will haunt the region and our role in the world for decades. Beyond this, the own damage to our own democracy: from efforts to subvert and gut legal standards and treaties to the drone wars and the the expanded, practically police state level, of surveillance on our ...more
Neil Crossan
Hersh has earned his investigative stripes decades ago when be broke the story regarding the massacre at My Lai. Far from a one-hit wonder, he was at the forefront of the Abu Ghraib story. This book is a collection of reports ranging from 9/11 to Turkey. As Iraq … continues, this book assists in understanding why it has gone as it has. Do we really want Donald Rumsfeld making decisions about battle field tactics? Should we be concerned that military officials who offered contrasting opinions (li ...more
Written in 2004, shortly after the wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq, Hersch takes a critical look at the wars, and especially the civilian leaders in the Pentagon. Hersch spent a lifetime writing about the U.S. Military, and has established numerous contacts of people in the know. As a trusted writer, he has access to a significant number of high level officials, and his story seems to have stood the test of time. It provides a very different perspective than some of the books released after Bu ...more
John Knape
10 years letter, this book is a great review of how we wound up in the current mess.
Jan 02, 2008 Scott rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Shelves: non-fiction
When I first read Hersh's article about Abu Ghraib in the New Yorker, I was also reading a comic book about rogue CIA agents fighting against Halliburton. It was hard to say which story seemed more incredible. Hersh is an absolutely amazing reporter, but not the best writer. How he manages to learn this stuff is mindblowing, especially since everything he wrote almost 4 years ago is now just about gospel. The book is pretty close to a collection of his New Yorker articles, however, so no need to ...more
For anyone that can no longer stand the immense effort required to distill real information out of the various sources where it is available (administration press conferences, talk radio, newspapers, tv news, etc.), this book is highly recommended. The information, which represents an outrage on the part of the US govt. more often than not, is clearly presented and solid analysis is presented. When several conclusions could be reasonably arrived at, Hersh presents them all. The book is excellent ...more
Will Byrnes
CoC is a compilation of pieces Hersh wrote for the New Yorker about the Bush administration’s conduct of foreign policy. It is a devastating look at the details of what occurred, with a considerable quantity of named sources. For obvious reasons, it was impossible for all his sources to allow their names to be used. We know how vengeful the Bushies are. This is one of the must-read books about the worst administration in American history.
Stacy Lewis
May 07, 2008 Stacy Lewis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who gives a f@%$
Amazing account of the workings of the Bush presidency and the tunnel vision with which they operate. Hersh says it best at the end "...There are many who believe George Bush is a liar...but lying would indicate an understanding...A more plausible explanation is that words have no meaning for this President.... and so he believes that his mere utterance ... makes them real."
It is truly explosive. It unearths weaknesses in American spy agencies prior to September 11, 2001, attacks.Tons of information about American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Washington's relations with Musharraf and Saudi Royal family. Details and hidden information regarding torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons was interesting.
Mathias Perez
Impeccable reporting that one expects from Hersh. This books is a relevant read 10 years after the start of the Iraq War, as memories are growing fuzzy and too many of us would like to forget the arrogant, faith-based policy making that led us to a needless war and the serial abuse of intelligence to serve pre-ordained outcomes.
Mar 05, 2007 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every American
Seymour Hersh, brilliant journalist and regular contributor to The New Yorker, writes about his investigations of the events of 9/11, the Abu Ghraib scandal, and everything in between. Just like the cover says, really. Important book to read if you truly want to understand what's going on in American politics and in the Middle East.
The American Armed Forces and politicians are guilty of appalling crimes - torture on a grand scale, false imprisonments, mass murders... Why are they so often portrayed in the media as the 'good guys' and not held accountable? The well-researched 'Chain of Command' goes into great detail to explain why.
Mary Whisner
This weaves together some of Hersh's reporting in the New Yorker with some additional reach. I had a hard time keeping track of all the players -- which guy was the security business entrepreneur who also advised the government on defense policy? -- but the overall message came through.
Lori Michael
Very highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an in-depth look by one of the most worldly renowned Journalists. The book explores the functions/dysfunctions in government and the military that lead to the second Iraq War and the ugly Abu Gharib incident.
Brendan Brooks
pretty darn important accounts here. Also ends with a line that is reminiscent of our current Prime Minister "words have no meaning ... beyond the immediate moment, as so he believes that his mere utterance of the phrases makes them real." Terrifying.
I found the information contained in this book interesting. I fully support our troops and what they are doing to combat our countries War of Terrorism. Some of the information here is disturbing. What happened to America doing the right thing?
This book was stunning, riveting, and wholly disturbing. Nothing I didn't suspect, but the facts were indisputable. The ramifications and reverberations of these war criminals' behavior will come back to haunt us for many decades to come.
Oct 07, 2007 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any American
If you want to know what our government and our military leadership is really doing in "the war on terror", read this book. You won't find this kind of stuff out by reading the papers or watching the news.
Chris Carrel
Seymour Hersh is the best friend American democracy has got. We all know the Bush (Cheney) Administration is corrupt. Hersh was on top of it before just about anybody else.
This was one of the 2005 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to
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  • Against All Enemies
  • A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the  Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies
  • Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
  • The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation
  • The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
  • Big Boy Rules: America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq
  • Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War
  • The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
  • The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
  • State of Denial
  • American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush
  • House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties
  • Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency
  • What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News
  • The Clinton Wars
  • Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
  • Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet
Seymour (Sy) Myron Hersh is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author based in Washington, D.C. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine on military and security matters. He has also won two National Magazine Awards and is a "five-time Polk winner and recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award."

He first gained worldwide recognition in 1969 for exposing the
More about Seymour M. Hersh...
The Dark Side of Camelot My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House The Samson Option The Target Is Destroyed

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