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State of Denial (Bush at War #3)

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,041 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year." This was the secret Pentagon assessment sent to the White House in May 2006. The forecast of a more violent 2007 in Iraq contradicted the repeated optimistic statements of President Bush, including one, two days earlier, when he sa ...more
Kindle Edition, 576 pages
Published (first published September 30th 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sarah
Apr 19, 2007 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Well, Woodward certainly got some of the inside skinny, but for my money, Fiasco is a much better book - better writing, clearer timeline, more complete look at all the players involved, esp. military (although I like how obsessed Woodward is with blaming everything on Rumsfeld!). This book feels like a giant apology/"don't blame me!" for Woodward's uncritical support of the administration in the run-up to the war.
John
Mar 06, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book remarkably quickly (for me), it really drives at a great pace, and it isn't hard to follow. You have to play close attention to the names of all the people, but enough of them have already been in the news that it isn't all that hard. It's just tough to figure out which general is which sometimes.
Unbelievable, some of the sequences of events which Woodward writes about. He had exhaustive interviews with just about everyone in the Bush administration and with so many generals, a
...more
Christian
Nov 02, 2007 Christian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want to hear the "he said, she said" aspects of White House decision making
I guess I should have given it more than two stars, because it functions well as a simple straightforward (somewhat) objective journalistic account of who said what to whom (at least that they later felt comfortable repeating to Bob Woodward) in the White House's decision to go to and continue war in Iraq. However, the bias does show through, sometimes to the right, like when he refers to the Brookings Institute as a "left-wing think tank," and then not even two pages later, refers to the RAND c ...more
James Hatton
Book 3 of 3 on the subject of the Bush administration's response to September 11, 2001, and the "global war on terror".

September 11, 2001, actually began two days earlier when Al Qaeda operatives assassinated a key American ally, Ahmad Shah Massoud, the "Lion of Panjshir". That was in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, by then. Their allies, the Taliban, were in Afghanistan. The initial U.S. response to 9/11 was in Afghanistan, against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But then, Iraq. Why Iraq? W
...more
Barry Sierer
This was an incredibly frustrating read. This is not slight on the author, but of the story itself. This book is the part of the "Bush at War" series where the occupation of Iraq clearly breaks down.

As the policies, goals, and assumptions of the Neo-Con's fall apart against the reality of Iraq; Bush's policy makers (such as Donald Rumsfeld) seem to quite frankly...not have a clue what to do about it, so they lapsed into a kind of intellectual paralysis. They simply claimed that the policies were
...more
Mark Valentine
Finally, Woodward ramps it up to show us the unfiltered truth. I think this book will go down as the single pivot point in which Americans finally had the veil removed from their eyes.

OK. I don't know that for sure since I am not "Americans." But I read it with a sense of acclaim and shouts--yes! finally this journalist was willing to put his reputation on the line and side for the other side.

For years no one in the mainstream press seem to dare press the President with challenging questions.
...more
Bill Manzi
Aug 09, 2015 Bill Manzi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After having read the Isikoff book Hubris I re-read this book, which I had originally purchased when it came out many years ago. Woodward has the whole cast of characters, from Rumseld, to Cheney, to L. Paul Bremer to George W. Bush himself. The book compliments the Isikoff effort, for me, because it takes a more detailed look at the incompetence and failure of the Bush Administration effort post war in Iraq. And that incompetence is staggering, with bad decisions piled upon bad decisions, with ...more
Ira Livingston
Being the third in Woodward's Bush at War series, I find it frustrating how the Bush Administration seems to be unconcerned with exiting a war which now we know should have never been started. It touches simply on the fact the the WMDs were never found and how they choose to withhold information from the American public.

This book also, seems to turn the blame from Bush and more onto Rumsfeld's lack of making clear decisions to figure out how to fight the war. He's more concerned with changing th
...more
Richard Harden
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Peterson
Feb 09, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In some senses, this book by Bob Woodward was somewhat behind the curve and something of a "Johnny Come Lately." We saw a number of journalists raise questions about America's invasion of Iraq before his book came out, including works such as Fallows' Blind into Baghdad, Diamond's Squandered Victory, Packer's The Assassin's Gate, Ricks' Fiasco, Galbraith's The End of Iraq, Suskind's The One Percent Solution, Risen's State of War, Rich's The Greatest Story Ever Sold, and Shadid's Night Draws Near ...more
Will Byrnes
Woodward continues his excuse-making for Bush here, portraying him as not being fully informed by his underlings. But he also shows Bush to be uninterested in information that does not support his pre-conceived notions. He shows him yet again to be a very incurious person content to be a cheerleader, doling out pablum with no real content. Rumsfeld is shown in all his glory as an evil, Machiavellian inside player, incredible in his ability to do exactly what he pleases despite the overt directiv ...more
Ali
Mar 03, 2008 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in foreign policy, politics
Shelves: 2008, politics, american
Four stars, only for the incredible access Woodward had to key players and his examination of the internal mis-management of the war in Iraq, particularly at the Pentagon. The title of the book would more accurately be Rumsfeld at War, although Donald Rumsfeld is not the only person to be revealed by highly placed sources as an incompetent leader and manager.

Overall, the book is hampered by its lack of conclusiveness. Its timeline ends before Rumsfeld was sacked after the 2006 Congressional ele
...more
Jonathan
May 31, 2008 Jonathan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonathan by: Fran Koch
I found this book really interesting on a couple levels. The first was just how it exposed the monumental task of preparing for a war. It was amazing to think about all these really intelligent people putting in a tremendous effort to make their little piece of something happen. It kind of reminds me of how I feel about a drag line, used for stripmining and mountaintop removal. I marvel at the machinery even while I abhor what it does. It was also interesting just to have some insight into the p ...more
Lucas
Apr 12, 2009 Lucas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, history, military
A sense of foreboding sets in in the very first pages covering the beginning of the Bush administration, where the Bush and Rumsfield desire for military 'transformation' is mentioned repeatedly. Transformation for them meant a lighter-faster-cheaper military, and it's fortunate that fully implementing it would take decades rather than achieved over night. But, as this book tells, they would get to test some of their ideas during the occupation of Iraq. Early analyses showed the need for about 4 ...more
Hank
Mar 29, 2012 Hank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
State of Denial is Bob Woodward's illustration of the breakdown of the cooperation between NSC members in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq.

The most stark pieces of the book show how President Bush seemed to be insulated from bad news, and then when it came he would seemingly pivot back to his sense of optimism about the ultimate outcome in Iraq.

As the insurgency gained steam in 2006, the White House seemed to be on a frantic search for a political solution in a country that did not have a s
...more
Jonathan Mckay
Aug 12, 2011 Jonathan Mckay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
State of Denial is not a book about the Iraq war. It is a book about the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war. Woodward uses his legendary though diminished access to the presidency to paint a picture of the Whitehouse that was disorganized, divided, and ultimately dysfunctional. Rather than pursue a general thesis condemning the administration, Woodward takes a chronological narrative style focusing on characters and interactions which serves to provide an interesting angle.



This focu
...more
Ben Haymond
In terms of the groundwork that went into this book it was excellent. Woodward did some serious research and talked to officials from every level it seems. As always he is an excellent reporter. But, he is a very poor analyst. As a reporter he has the luxury of not needing to offer an alternative. This book is filled with side critiques and digs but the combination of them is a little mystifying. For example, he spends much of the book making oblique criticisms of Bush for not being involved eno ...more
Brian
May 26, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Iran hawks
I took up this book a few weeks ago because for several reasons:

1. Recent stories reflected upon Obama's time in office has changed our national defense strategy to be one of drone strikes and a lighter footprint - a strategy not of his own machination but something that began years ago under a different. In fact, in this book, Donald Rumsfeld is very clear-headed in recognizing that the changes he sought would likely not be felt until he was well out of a job. Warts and all, we are now living w
...more
Mof
Dec 26, 2013 Mof rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, iraq, war
Woodward's book State of Denial is certain to have an impact on the election. It is now ranked number 2 on the New York Times non-fiction best seller lists. As with all of Woodward's books State of Denial straddles the line of fiction and non-fiction. His liberal use of quotation marks and descriptions of thoughts have become trademarks of his works.

It is an easy and compelling read; I finished the book in two days. While there are snippets of new information about the role of Henry Kissinger an
...more
Nathan
Sep 17, 2007 Nathan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Revenge of the Sith is better than Phantom Menace.
State of Denial is the final episode in Bob Woodward's Bush trilogy. Bush at War and Plan of Attack felt like weak books, and Woodward's grasp for access seemed to have supplanted his previous investigative zeal. State of Denial is the best of the three, and comes closest to putting the Woodward we miss on display. As long as one reminds oneself that Woodward's books may be slanted slightly in favor of building his reputation and sacred access, he's still a fairly nonpartisan chronicler of Washi ...more
Jillian
Jun 10, 2008 Jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Reba Hernandez
Shelves: politics
Woodward's exhaustive interviews with just about everyone in the Bush administration was mind-boggling. The main thing I got out of this was that there were many generals and others warning the administration what an awful mistake the war was.

Rumsfeld comes across like a villain puppet master-pulling Bush's strings and bickering with Rice while refusing the generals access to the president. Rumsfeld seems like an egomaniac, incapable of admitting any wrong doing and constantly scrambling to cove
...more
Samantha
Dec 20, 2007 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've been following the news and are just now reading this book like I was then you aren't going to be shocked by any of the bombshells. However, I found it interesting that he had so many interviews with the principles including Rumsfield and President Bush. I also found it interesting how the timeline worked. Mr. Woodward puts together exactly when things happened. If you are looking for answers, he isn't going to give you any #1 because reporters report not analyze and #2 because it's to ...more
Brian
Dec 08, 2010 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
Published in 2006, "State of Denial" paints a picture of the continuing dysfunctionality of the Bush White House, State Department, and Department of Defense up until 2006. Bush and Cheney refused to be interviewed for the book (though they had participated in the first two volumes), but author Bob Woodward was able to interview just about everyone else involved, and it all seems to confirm what many of us thought through most of the Iraq war under Bush--we were lied to. I don't think it was nec ...more
Jennifer
Really kind of riveting account of how we went to Iraq, despite very little evidence of WMDs (and very little interest in them except as an excuse for war, once we were in, everybody forgot about them). Rumsfeld is undoubtedly kicking himself for cooperating. He's got more direct quotes than anyone else in the book...and comes off looking like a fool and an asshole, which seems about right to me.

Woodward is not a great prose stylish and there's a lot of jumping around from thread to thread, hun
...more
Sandeep Tare
Very good account of what went on before the war began and during the early days. So many mistakes were made. So many of those could have been avoided.

It is hard not to hate Cheney and Rumsfeld even more after reading. You kinda feel sorry for Bush. He just doesn't get it. He is blindsided most of the time. And when he is in the thick of things, he cannot seem to get a grasp of it. Of course, at that level, there are no excuses and ultimately, the buck stops at you.

About the book, well ... ther
...more
Zach
Very readable (or in my case, listenable) review of the major events of policy making and the Iraq war. Much of the information is already known if you have followed events in the news over the past 4-5 years. Woodward's book provides context and gives insight into actions of policy makers and their thought processes.

One caveat to this is that although Woodward is pretty good about remaining neutral, it is clear which individuals gave him more access (Gen. Marks, Jay Garner Andy Card, David Kay
...more
Sean
Sep 21, 2007 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Rumsfeld is a dick
Won’t flow the forces we need
We will be too light


- Colonel Steve Rotkoff’s in his war diary from the early planning stages of the Iraq war.

Frankly, I don’t know why I always read these Woodward books. They’re not very good, and all the juicy bits get talked to death in the papers before I ever start reading the books themselves. You already know all the bombshells in this one, the memos, the incompetence, the lies. There’s no point going into it.

The one thing that is interestin
...more
John Rebrovick
This book, for including so many names and places, reads really well, though it is sometimes challenging to place events in the timeline. It is interesting subject matter especially because so many of the individuals involved are still active in contemporary events, but by the same token it suffers from being too quick of a history - there is no perspective offered by distance in time and history from the events discussed and although interviews with key players like Bush and Rumsfeld are reveal ...more
Johnny Williams
Sep 17, 2009 Johnny Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure this would get the next Pulitzer for literary achievement --unless I was voting then it would definitely get the prize--for bringing the truth to the reader --in a factual documented way-
After reading it I feel the mess our President along with Rumsfeld- cheney and Rice are surprisingly supported and validated through many online NEUTRAL sources and as recently as last night, many were validated by the characters themselves.

The book certainly symbolizes Woodward's interviewing skil
...more
Meg
Jan 20, 2011 Meg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As usual, Bob Woodward is a master. I learned so much about the Bush administration through this book, and it was a big part of my transition from angry, rebellious political teen into (what I fancy myself to be) a more pragmatic, comprehensive adult. This book, while not flattering to Bush and his staff, was very matter-of-fact: Bush and his people were doing what they thought was best with what they had available to them at the time. I came to understand this by reading Woodward's series on Bu ...more
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Politics 1 13 Sep 07, 2008 09:58PM  
  • Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
  • Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
  • Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
  • The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
  • Against All Enemies
  • The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina
  • What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception
  • Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
  • House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties
  • Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War
  • State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
  • At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA
  • War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals
  • Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency
  • American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush
  • The Bush Tragedy
  • Renegade: The Making of a President
  • The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
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Robert "Bob" Upshur Woodward is an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post. While an investigative reporter for that newspaper, Woodward, working with fellow reporter Carl Bernstein, helped uncover the Watergate scandal that led to U.S. President Richard Nixon's resignation. Woodward has written 12 best-selling non-fiction books and has twice contributed reporting to efforts that collecti ...more
More about Bob Woodward...

Other Books in the Series

Bush at War (4 books)
  • Bush at War
  • Plan of Attack
  • The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-08

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