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Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  132 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by John Wiley & Sons
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It's a shame that Kaplan's method is so poor and his approach so impressionistic, unfair, and polemical, because I find plenty to agree with in his opinions about policy.

Irritated by Kaplan's haphazard method for substantiating assertions, I started paying attention to which factual claims in the text were sourced at the back of the book and which were not. Kaplan lists 232 source notes for his 200-page book. On about page 32, I began making a marginal note every time I came across a quote, a p
Aug 25, 2008 Julie rated it it was amazing
The book starts and ends with a great quote:

All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T. E. Lawrence

This book has helped me understand the possible reasoning behind many of the Bush administration's decisions in Iraq. The "what are they thinking?" questions are clearly and concisel
Oct 24, 2008 Paul rated it really liked it
How American foreign policy got so off-track in the 21st Century has been well covered in other books. Why it got so off-track is the subject of this book.

It stems from two huge misconceptions made by the Bush White House and the neo-cons. The first is that, on 9/11, the world did not change. It certainly changed in that America suddenly found itself more vulnerable than ever before. But the nature of power, politics and warfare did not change. The second is that, after the Cold War, America fou
Feb 15, 2011 Anders rated it really liked it
I heard of this book in a collection of conspiracy theories, and wanted to read it because during the course of the Bush-era, my gut-reactions to the newsreporting of America's political leaders' statements and actions were often too angry and uninformed to really think about what those really meant. This book offers a sober, and nuanced critique of the thinking behind a lot of amercian military/political strategies and has now educated me on such relevant matters from the cold war up to 2008. I ...more
Jul 27, 2008 Jack rated it it was amazing
Daydream Believers, by Kaplan, was a FANTASTIC book. Interesting, well written, and important, Kaplan offers much more than the title led me to believe. Of course, it is another book on the mistakes of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy, particularly regarding Iraq, but the book is grander than that. The best parts: 1) fascinating overview of about a half century of US military strategy (this is what makes the book so strong); 2) necessary look at the totality of the Bush foreign policy, r ...more
May 04, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing
Excellent overview of the foreign policy that George Bush foisted on this country, destroying our standing in the world, because he was a short-sighted, incurious man who spoke in platitudes, that he believed would cure all the ills in the world. But wasn't willing to follow through to actually fix the problems the he helped create. I know many people would say"it's not all his fault, his cabinet and many of his staff are to blame." Please keep in mind, this man and his followers set him up to h ...more
Mark Valentine
Mar 14, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it liked it
This is a tough book to "really" like because it documents the impact that the neocons and vulcans have had in wrecking American policy goals and regional stability during the Bush administration. How can anyone like this? The players that have been the most destructive include Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Bush Feith, Wolfowitz, Perle--it's a who's who list of immoral, bungling anti-intellectual fantasy holders.

Most of the book seemed preamble. I think it was still necessary to read in its entirety,
Drew Steen
Apr 12, 2008 Drew Steen rated it it was amazing
It is easy for me to look at the pronouncements of the Donald Rumsfeld and say, "Criminy, that guy is an idiot." But of course that's a cop-out. A quick look at Rumsfeld's resume shows that he's got some kind of talent in spades. He was elected to congress when he was 30, was appointed the youngest Defense Secretary ever. The same logic applies to many of the famous neo-cons*. That group, on paper, is awfully bright. So how did they screw things up so badly?

Fred Kaplan points out that several "g
Mar 08, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
Good primer on the foreign policy strategy of the Bush administration. Actually, "strategy" might not be the right word, as it implies there is some sort of unifying structure to it. Perhaps "attitude" should be used instead. As in "the Bush administration's misinformed notion that America can unilaterally reform despotic regimes into liberal democracies though a combination of tough talk, refusal to normalize relations, and in some cases, precision bombing, resulted in an attitude that alliance ...more
Oct 27, 2013 George rated it it was ok
Shelves: audible
Author recounts perceived mistakes and erroneous assumptions of the Bush (43) presidency. Among them, the assumption that democracy is the normal state of human existence; that Cheney and Rumsfeld ran rough shod over Powell and that POTUS finally figured out the international challenges too late to do anything about it. All plausible hypothesis. A self styled Eastern intellectual, the author has written several books on military issues, while never having served a day in his life. This daydream ...more
Aug 08, 2009 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military history buffs primarily
Not exactly what I'd expected - the first 2/3 of the book was primarily U. S. military history (at times mind-numbingly so), which I found difficult to get through until the discussion of the Iraq fiasco itself (current events). I'd recommend the print book instead, though I'm a fan of Stefan Rudnicki as a narrator (he sounds a lot like Leonard Nimoy to me).
Dec 15, 2009 Crbianfool rated it it was amazing
Fantastic behind the scenes look at how the philosophy of abstract and unimpeded power clashes with the limitations of realism in the world of geo-politics. Slanted towards liberals but not in a way that tarnishes or biases the theory presented. Fantastic short read, highly recommended alongside Chalmers Johnson and John Perkins.
Jun 02, 2012 Marc rated it it was amazing
Opening line of book says what I have been saying too. The world did not change after 9/11. America was less naive about their vulnerability but not about their world-view. It details what can happen when religiously motivated zealots control the government of a belligerent power...sound familiar?
Benjamin Dyer
May 05, 2008 Benjamin Dyer rated it liked it
I picked up this book assuming it was a badly written anti-Iraq war rag that presumably rehashed what everybody already knows about the bad decisions that got us there.

Instead, this turned out to be a rigorous, academic study of the lead-up to the war. Heavy on facts, figures and names. Makes Bob Woodward's prose look like Harry Potter books.
Sep 08, 2008 Paul rated it really liked it
This book is a study of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld foreign policy, but it also includes some interesting material on how modern technological advances both do and do not change modern warfare. I hope our next policy leaders are reading this book.
Sep 09, 2008 Ray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good insights into the decision making and policy choices made by President Bush and his Administration. I thought the author maintained a fair viewpoint, and the book was not as negative or biased as I might have guessed it would be, based on the title.
Awesome book, great insight into Bush II and his administration, and why they so horribly failed in Iraq.
Mar 29, 2008 Harry rated it it was amazing
A must read for every neoconservative who thinks Bush and his cronies have been doing such a wonderful job...
Mar 24, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it
9/11 changed everything, or did it? 'W' was the victim of mistaken thinking about the real impact of the fall of the Soviet Union and the 9/11 attacks.
Mike rated it it was amazing
Dec 21, 2008
Raymond rated it really liked it
Nov 12, 2012
Richard Ross
Richard Ross rated it it was amazing
Sep 03, 2014
Gina rated it did not like it
Feb 04, 2008
ProgressiveBookClub rated it it was amazing
May 05, 2009
David Knopf
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Jan 17, 2012
Lou Noble
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Jun 26, 2008
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Aug 17, 2011
Debra Greenlees
Debra Greenlees rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2014
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Fred M. Kaplan (b. 1954) is an American author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. His weekly "War Stories" column for Slate magazine covers international relations and U.S. foreign policy.
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