Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet
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Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  401 ratings  ·  38 reviews
When George W. Bush campaigned for the White House, he was such a novice in foreign policy that he couldn't name the president of Pakistan and momentarily suggested he thought the Taliban was a rock-and-roll band. But he relied upon a group called the Vulcans—an inner circle of advisers with a long, shared experience in government, dating back to the Nixon, Ford, Reagan an...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 7th 2004 by Penguin Books
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Will Byrnes
This is an excellent book. It details a subset of the larger Vulcan group, neocons with a root in the Nixon era. It is best when pointing out the plans that were constructed in the early 90’s, plans in which it is made clear that the twin goals of this crew were to ensure continued access to mideast oil, not so much to ensure cheap supplies, but to ensure secure supplies, and to prevent hostile powers from controlling that resource. The other goal was to spread liberal democracy to the middle ea...more
Rise of the Vulcans is more or less combined mini biographies of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage and Condoleezza Rice. This book is a great sucess if the goal was to make a psychopathic criminal demons in human form out to be semi-normal human beings.

According to this book Armitage had nothing to do with Operation Phoenix. It actually claims he had a great love for the Vietnamese people. Which of course is why he went to Vietnam to kill them. Also Co...more
Erik Graff
Aug 24, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Picked this one up at the library in Bridgman, Michigan a couple of weeks ago and have been reading it, off and on, at the local cafe in the East Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Unlike all Woodward's current history books, this one offers no startling revelations or insider's secrets. It is more like a regular history book than a piece of journalism. Indeed, Mann probably even wrote it himself.

The books covers several themes. First, it is a history of the evolution of Republican foreign poli...more
Rajesh Kurup
Excellent, engaging book about the cast that led us to the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mann's strength is that he provides a non-partisan background to the people and the times that influenced them.
When W was elected, I felt that he had picked the perfect team to settle the problems of the 70s. Many of his team had experience in the Nixon and Ford administration. Mann points out that, in fact, their backgrounds actually began even earlier in Vietnam. It was the reaction to the reac...more
The best book on the personalities that made up the first Bush term, and believe me, I have read a bunch of them. All the Woodward books and other beltway books of the season come and go, but Mann’s book I think will be seen as the best contemporary accounting of the personalities from the first terms( Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, Powell, Armitage, Wolfowitz, etc, etc) that you’re going to find. This is obvious a book that is highly critical of all the figures in that presidency, but not th...more
Interesting and neutral (perhaps overly so) summary of the historical movements of the group of people who became instrumental in orchestrating the Iraq war and the philosophies they used to justify it. Seeing their actions as a continuous thread of history is the book's strongest point, bridging the Cold War and connecting it with the ideological pre-emptive strike mentality that dominated the foreign policy of the Bush II administration.

I understand the need for a neutral viewpoint, but I do w...more
Jennifer Aupke
James Mann completes a thorough review of the rise to power of all of the most influential and prominent members of President G.W. Bush's war cabinet. Ending the book with an analysis of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, Mann analyzes the members seperately in the positions they take before, during and after the conflict, comparing their actions to the philosophies they espoused during their political careers. One open ended point that Mann should consider revisiting is the eventual success o...more
The American Conservative
'And of all the books so far, James Mann’s work on “the Vulcans”—while not as charmingly salacious, politically angry, and gut-personal as the Bob Woodward, Paul O’Neill, and Richard Clarke books—is a particularly valuable contribution, perhaps one that will come to stand as The Best and the Brightest of the Iraq War. Its value lies not only in the consummate fairness of the author’s judgments (sometimes too fair, actually) but in the fact that Mann roves back in history meticulously and conscie...more
Shea Mastison
The Presidency of George Bush is quite likely too recent to assess on any macroscopic level. It was a total rupture with the Cold War era, and the heady days of "post-historical" Clintonian America. The paradigm shift itself was made all the more extraordinary by the men and women who happened to define American foreign policy after 9/11.

This is an excellent examination of that group, termed "the Vulcans" by Mann. He dissects their ideological base (or subsequent lack of one) while explaining t...more
Benj FitzPatrick
This in depth look of Condi, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Armitage, Cheney, and Powell moved chronologically from the 60s until 2004. If nothing else, it cemented how closely intertwined their careers were from the 70s onward. Aside from this central point, the comparison between their cold-war policies and the post-9/11 ones were fascinating. It was a bit of a slow read b/c the story hopped between the 6 at each time point. I think this was the optimal approach, but it fragmented each person's story li...more
Mar 22, 2008 Marty rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Marty by: heard about it on TV
Great background on how and why our government and country is in the mess it is currently in around the world, of course with special attention to Iraq and the Middle East. Great background information on Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Powell, Armitage, and others. It is important to know who the advisers to the next President will be....what do they stand for; how do they see the world. (By the way, did you know the Rumsfeld was a white house "aid" during Nixon years---and he was against the vietna...more
This is an excellent look at the movers and shakers of President Bush's war room. The interconnections between these (mostly) men and their ties to the Nixon and Reagan administrations should leave everyone well aware of how these people operate.

I thought it was a great read, and worth looking into to get a better understanding of our current foreign policy situation.
Andrew Ceyton
I was on a Cheney kick for a couple of weeks and this is the only book that really stood out to me. Really helps to understand the different personalities the merged to form President W Bush's private 'think tank'. Also the most realistic portrait of Cheney i've read. A little dry, so not perfect but a definite recommendation.
Fantastic book! I rarely re-read books, but this one I came back to. James Mann is a terrific author, extremely engaging, and he really brings to life a multi-biography of key foreign policy makers. I recommend this to anyone itnerested in foreign policy and how we got into the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Jesse Stamell
Rise of the Vulcans is the fascinating story of how George, Condi, Colin, Dick, Rummy, Paul and the rest of the Ladies and Gents who managed to destroy America's prestige in the world post 9/11 are intertwined. It is a scary portrayal of their rise to power and of the neo-con agenda both pre and post 9/11.
If you have ever seen the television show "Frontline," this is like "Frontline" in print. . .very educational. A really good companion piece, or maybe prologue book, to Bob Woodward's State of Denial.
So far, great window into how Bush II's advisors were involved in previous administrations. Puts a human touch on each of them and explains how they got to their perspectives.
very insightful look into W's foreign policy team, and why we are where we are.

If you hate W now, you'll hate everyone else around him when you're finished with this book.
Jose Skinner
I enjoyed the history and context the book gave me, but I confess I began skimming a lot three-quarters of the way through the book.
Chris Boyd
Excellent book on the powerful people behind the Bush administration. Very interesting bios on everyone from Cheney to Rice and Rumsfeld!
I never really could understand how Bush could come up with the ideas he did....AHA! here they are in person! Still reading this one....
A good biographical summary of Bush's core group of advisors including Rumsfeld, Cheny, Powell, Wolfowitz, Armitage and Rice.
this is a must-read to understand what went on in the white house and how the bush administration decided to invade iraq!
This is a brilliant analysis of the hubris and historical and cultural blindness of G. W. Bush and his war cabinet.
shows the strong history and relationship between the key powers of government and will scare the heck out of you
Dan X. Barton
A very good overview of the lunatics who got us into Iraq and the one smart guy who tried to keep us out.
Leslie Stein
Wonderful information on interesting people. Critical and coherent without partinsanship.
interesting background on the major bush administration players, but the writing is pretty dry.
Where'd the neocons come from? This book'll tell you without a lot of partisan baggage.
Great book if U want to understand the current adminstration & their history.
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