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All In: The Education of General David Petraeus

3.13  ·  Rating Details ·  349 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
All In The Education of General David Petraeus by Broadwell, Paula, Loeb, Vernon. Published by Penguin Press HC, The,2012, Binding: Hardcover
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 432 pages
Published January 24th 2012 by The Penguin Press (first published January 2012)
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Jan 07, 2013 Brian rated it did not like it
By now it is well known that the author of this book had an affair with her subject, leading to his resignation as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
But the true scandal of this book is that it is an unquestionably adoring look at both the general and the army by a West Point graduate and true-believer who writes and apparently thinks in the milit-speak of positive affirmations. The book is peppered with words like "great", "superb" and "progress". Petraeus was always making "progres
While there are "sympathetic" biographies in a good sense, like Robert K. Massie's new bio of Catherine the Great, there are sympathetic bios that aren't so good. And this is one of them.

It's not quite craptacular, but it's nowhere near a "critical" study. Written by a West Point grad, and, as one other reviewer notes, some sort of "authorized" bio, it's got enough of a suck-up attitude that it doesn't question him at all. (The type of people who blurb it on the back, starting with Tom Brokaw, a
Dec 22, 2011 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
An insider’s gripping examination of General David Petraeus’s command of the Iraq surge and then Afghanistan. Broadwell and her coauthor Vernon Loeb deftly weave early battlefield experiences (Kuwait and Bosnia) and personal history (son of a sea captain, top West Point cadet, and competitive athlete) into the contemporary accounts as a means of explaining how his past informs his decision-making today.

This is a book for military history buffs and undoubtedly will be studied at West Point, Broad
Chris Young
Jul 24, 2014 Chris Young rated it really liked it
Being that the author is also the woman patraeus had an affair with I give 4 irony stars for the title alone. That aside I found it an interesting book. I wish I could say he was a brilliant general. I guess in the era of politically correct warfare he is brilliant. He navigates the waters of diplomacy very well. I find the modern military attitude very strange. There is much emphasis on the safety of the soldiers which is good I guess. There is also much emphasis on nation building and getting ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Nicole rated it really liked it
A glowing biography of General David Petraeus. He's just an amazing leader, and his accomplishments and perseverance in the face of the conflicts he's been charged to lead are nothing short of incredible.

Broadwell is clearly a fan of Petraeus, and while she does acknowledge some of his shortcomings, I would have preferred a bit more skepticism and critique. But I can see why that would be difficult. Petraeus is utterly likeable: A workaholic, who values education amongst his officers, and requi
Feb 04, 2012 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Broadwell's well-written biography of the premier military officer of our time will certainly go down as one of, if not the, definitive work on David Petraeus - at least, for what he accomplished up until his retirement from the U.S. Army in 2011. (I have a feeling he's not done yet - obviously, today he continues to serve his country as CIA director, but there may be more beyond that, as well.) Read this book now!
"The Lady in Question" gets Her Guy. I have not
read this special prophylaxis of humor--.
Justin Tapp
Jun 06, 2015 Justin Tapp rated it it was ok
It would be interesting to know whether Petraeus' wife and other associates would have determined that this book was written by a mistress if it had not been leaked by an FBI inquiry. It's clear, especially toward the end, that the author either had too much information or was making things up, and is blatantly biased. How does she know, for example, what his expression was when he was the "only one in the room"? How does she know what he was wearing when he went out "jogging alone"? Broadwell w ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Marks54 rated it really liked it
This is an approved biography of the career of General Petraeus, with a focus on his development of counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy and his tenure as the commander in Iraq and Afghanistan. The author is a doctoral student in political science who also happens to have been a West Point graduate and who received considerable access and support from Petraeus. She is also the person who challenged John Stewart to a push-up contest on "The Daily Show".

It is an amazing story and Broadwell's telling
Dec 03, 2012 Hal rated it it was ok
In the wake of the affair scandal that cost General Patraeus his job as CIA Director and besmirched his distinguished military career I wanted to find out what his paramour had to say in this lengthy book she wrote on his career. General Patraeus should not be seen as less than a most honorable man who dedicated his life to this country through his distinguished military service. Yet it seems puzzling that he could risk it all for an affair that tarnished it so and put so many on a national spec ...more
Nov 09, 2014 Steve rated it it was ok
First time book author Paula Broadwell and her associate, Vernon Loeb, used five pages of mostly military acronyms and seventy-one characters spread over 357 pages to document General David Petraeus’ leadership of America’s war in Afghanistan. All those acronyms and all those characters make this a very tough, complicated and slow-going read. It was an outgrowth of Broadwell’s PhD dissertation research and that may explain why it reads like a term paper.

As she points out in this volume, Petraeu
Betsy Ashton
Nov 27, 2012 Betsy Ashton rated it liked it
Forget the scandal around Paula Broadwell and General Patraeus. None of that is in this biography. What is here is a decent look into Patraeus's life and military career.

Yes, he was a great general by most accounts. Again by most accounts he modernized the army from a traditional ground force supported by air. Given the two major wars where he led troops were not standard ground wars, he was asked to develop and execute a counterinsurgency program. Think "winning hearts and minds" of the locals.
Jun 10, 2012 Gordon rated it really liked it
A well written and enjoyable narrative that intertwines the defining moments of GEN Petraeus's early military career (assignments, mentors, Princeton studies, operations in Haiti and Bosnia) with his final decade as a senior leader and theater commander of first operations in Iraq, then Afghanistan. His early career study, then extensive practice and doctrinal development of counter-insurgency is a theme worthy of review of the modern military leader. The book offers a number of very recent pers ...more
Frank Kelly
Despite the dalliance between the author and Petraeus, this remains an instructive and well researched book on the theory and practice of Petraeus' counterinsurgency theory - also known as COIN - as applied in Afghanistan and Iraq. Broadwell took her PhD thesis and expanded it to give multiple accounts of the COIN operations at work, describing multiple bloody battles and the soldiers killed and maimed in the process.

The book does regularly veer into a hagiographic profile of Petraeus and is, on
Nov 12, 2012 SA rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012, war-studies
I had actually checked this out of the library in September, but didn't end up reading it until November when the scandal hit and suddenly there were a slew of holds on the book.

Petraeus is a very intriguing figure in our contemporary war history. Unfortunately, Broadwell (whatever the context of their relationship) did not do him justice here as a biographer. There is little critical lens applied to him or his actions; even the thread of what I believe was her doctoral thesis, on the matter of
Suzanne Auckerman
Mar 23, 2013 Suzanne Auckerman rated it liked it
Interesting to really understand the change in strategy and from what I saw when I was there in 2008, was the right thing to do. I was impressed by several things:

1. How much he and the other generals were concerned about the well being of the ground troops and how much time they took to thank them and recognize them for what they were doing, including their families.

2. The commitment to get the injured out and the concern over the number of injured with multiple amputations. I hope these are ac
K.J. Wetherholt
Mar 10, 2012 K.J. Wetherholt rated it liked it
This was an informative book that revealed some about what could be considered the Petraeus psychology of war--but the structure was a bit irritating, in going back and forth in time. It would have been better for it to have run solely chronologically. There was also the sense, having been written by a former West Point graduate and officer, that there was a bit of hero-worship going on. One thing I did appreciate, and something that I, too, have had to deal with--that this was written by a woma ...more
Apr 11, 2012 Tom rated it it was ok
I was disappointed with the book, especially given the access and background available to the author. She should have decided if this was a book on Petreaus, his background and leadership, or whether it was a book on the Afghanistan war, or on the Iraq war. All could have been covered, but bouncing across topics and time weakened the presentation. In place she seems to have lost objectivity and presented a one-sided view of positions. When those lapses in objective completeness showed up, it cau ...more
Spencer Willardson
Jan 15, 2014 Spencer Willardson rated it liked it
Shelves: military-iraq
Reading this book now, knowing how things all ended between Petraeus and his biographer felt a bit invasive at times. It was clear that he was sharing parts of himself with her (about burdens of command) that he wasn't sharing with anyone else. My problem with the book is that it makes Petraeus out to be a saint. It is impossible to believe that he never made any mistakes or faced any challenge that he couldn't tackle.

The book lends ammunition to the critics that slam him for shameless self-pro
Arno Hartholt
Dec 14, 2013 Arno Hartholt rated it it was ok
In general very interesting to read about how Petraeus combines many differs thinking backgrounds into one, including military, academic and civilian. I enjoyed the strategic and tactical thinking elements, especially on how he combined on the ground needs with big visions and how to communicate these.

The accounts of his life and wars are somewhat disjointed, although that may have been cause I was listening to the audio book. Worst though, is that the author is not critical at all, constantly
False Millennium
I've read a great deal about the Middle East, and everything on Petraeus. One reviewer called this book craptacular. That about sums it up. Given her most intimate access to the General, this book falls flat in prose and could use some Viagra. She falls guilty of dropping SATC POTUS NRC and if it's a battalion you get the FULL name and numbers. Your eyes glaze over. Hardly an unbiased full portrait of a complex man. My own pet peeve with him? He won't admit he married the General's daughter at W ...more
Pretty good coverage of an amazing career.

My only quibble was that there were inadequate breaks to indicate when the narrative was flashing back 5 or 10 or 20 years. Several times, it jumped from the war in Afghanistan to Gen. Petraeus' earlier life and career without warning, and back again.

In addition, there was essentially a "subplot" of a Major Lujan, and his tour in Afghanistan and after. I kept waiting for this officer to interact meaningfully with Gen. Petraeus, but I didn't see it happen
Allan Colgan
Apr 21, 2013 Allan Colgan rated it did not like it
I pity the people who will have to read her doctoral dissertation. As for this book, it was so badly written that it defies description. In over 60 years of reading books, I can honestly say that there were only two books I started to read that I never finished. This is the second one, the first one was in 1958. I thought it might be a good book considering all the publicity of the people in question. Wrong! As a writer, she is bad. She might be better at being the alleged mistress in question. ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Jessica rated it it was ok
I thought Broadwell's book was neither well-written, nor well-organized. Tracking the chronology of events was tricky. While I read the book well before the scandal broke, I felt that Broadwell painted a one-sided portrait of Gen P without any nuance of what makes him human - she put him on a pedestal and failed to give us an even-handed journalistic account. I did learn a lot about Petraeus, though!
Nov 26, 2012 Clare rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I expected a biography written by someone having an affair with her subject to be... better written. Yawn. I was bored to tears and skipped through. It did seem almost strangely about Paula Broadwell, too - how competitive she is and how much Petraeus admired her for her physical fitness. (No snicker needed, please. SNL has done it all so well.)

Then, Paula Broadwell has the nerve to thank her husband for taking care of their kids.
Jul 01, 2012 Tracie rated it liked it
I picked this up on a whim I guess, having just read Black Hawk Down. It is light on personal details and heavy on technical stuff--I feel like I know more about counterinsurgency than I will ever need to, but again, I have a new found respect for what our troops are trying to accomplish in Afghanistan. I am simply amazed at their dedication to protecting, training, and rebuilding the Afghan people and their villages. And General Petraeus is an absolute wonder.
Michael Barone
The details of his life and work will interest, but this is an exasperating, never ending puff piece. I come away thinking the General is the greatest man who ever lived. Though if you've read the headlines in the past few years, he is clearly not. There are no dimensions to the man whatsoever in this book. A failure.
Aug 07, 2012 Jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, military
Disclaimer for my high ignorance of military affairs and history. Okay book on an interesting figure. It seems like Broadwell had incredible access to Petraeus, but the perspective felt one-sided. I guess that's a common critique and, without knowing much else, the book did feel super sympathetic. Did enjoy it though, and it does bring out the complexities of Afghanistan and COIN.
Apr 03, 2012 Mindy rated it really liked it
This book helped me to understand the system a little better along with the history of the Afghanistan war. An incredible man but felt only got a small portion of the story. Maybe one day he will write a memoir.
Nick Swanson
Nov 12, 2012 Nick Swanson rated it it was amazing
Say what you want about David Petraeus and the controversy surrounding this book, but along with Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Little America, it is one of the best histories of America's efforts in Afghanistan between 2009-2011.
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Paula Dean Broadwell is an American writer, academic, and anti-terrorism professional. She is the co-author with Vernon Loeb of the The New York Times best seller All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, a biography of then International Security Assistance Force commander David Petraeus. On November 9, 2012, she was reported to have been involved in the extramarital affair with Petraeus t ...more
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