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Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  874 Ratings  ·  54 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
Paperback, 448 pages
Published July 26th 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2004)
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Jan 05, 2008 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Tom Schulte
May 31, 2014 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 21, 2014 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Mehwish Mughal
Mar 22, 2016 Mehwish Mughal rated it it was amazing
There are always multiples sides to every story; Hersh, through his fearless, investigative journalism has brought one such "other" story to light.

1) Torture at Abu Ghraib - The gross violations of Human Rights.
Evidence of the traumatic impact of the abuses was conveyed to me by a senior Iraqi weapons scientist, now living abroad, in the spring of 2004. He told me that several women detained at Abu Ghraib had "passed messages to their families imploring them to smuggle poison to them to end the
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
Mar 21, 2007 Christine rated it liked it
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.
Carol Storm
Jul 06, 2015 Carol Storm rated it really liked it
Classic reporting, but needs more on the troops on the ground!
Sep 29, 2012 Jerome rated it it was ok
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
Brad Lucht
Mar 19, 2013 Brad Lucht rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 26, 2007 Ollie rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Graham Mcmillan
Sep 10, 2013 Graham Mcmillan rated it liked it
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
This was a difficult book to read; Hersh begins with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and goes on to address the decisions and actions of the Bush administration following 9/11. He touches on the actions of the administration as they tried to find intelligence (which wasn't usually good) and wrangled the system in order to get the military to do what they wanted. I was shocked at their actions to "stovepipe" intelligence and their complete unwillingness to consider views that did not suit them.

Neil Crossan
Sep 17, 2010 Neil Crossan rated it really liked it
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
Dec 12, 2013 James rated it really liked it
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
Aug 07, 2014 severyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David Mccracken
Aug 22, 2015 David Mccracken rated it it was amazing
This book shows all of the flaws of Hersh's writing, but it also could only be written by Hersh and it needed to be written. Hersh has an amazing eye and ear for cover-ups and hidden information that needs to be revealed. As part of the same energy, he also can jump to conclusions and jump to positions of outrage/censure that don't always age well. (I think part of this disjointed feel comes from the way the book was formed out of previous New Yorker articles and the raw energy of the initial re ...more
Jan 14, 2008 Ray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 01, 2007 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 02, 2008 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  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
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.
Klaus Metzger
Apr 16, 2015 Klaus Metzger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: klaus
Hershs Enthüllungen machen Schlagzeilen in aller Welt. In diesem Buch zeigt akribisch und mit Hilfe neuen Materials, wie es möglich war, dass die USA nach dem grauenvollen Terroranschlägen vom 11. September selbst einen Weg des Unrechts beschreiten konnten(sehr gute Buchkritik in DIE ZEIT Nr. 44 vom 21. Oktober 2004).
Ein sehr spannendes Buch - ich habe es verschlungen. Die Nachrichten der kürzlich vergangenen Zeit liess ich noch einmal aus einer anderen Sicht Revue passieren.
Mar 05, 2007 Adam rated it really liked it
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.
Stacy Lewis
May 07, 2008 Stacy Lewis rated it it was amazing
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."
Sep 13, 2013 Anita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Adam Stauthamer
Nov 17, 2015 Adam Stauthamer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Hersh has done a great service by bringing to light that what was done in our name. It is difficult to reconcile all our government does with our values as Americans. But that such criticism is possible is testament to our continued ability to try and get it right and improve how we get things done. Silence kills the revolution.
Jun 27, 2010 Intikhab rated it really liked it
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
Mar 10, 2013 Mathias Perez rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 07, 2007 Michael rated it really liked it
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.
Mary Whisner
Mar 31, 2013 Mary Whisner rated it really liked it
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.
Brendan Brooks
Feb 09, 2014 Brendan Brooks rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
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  • A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the  Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies
  • Against All Enemies
  • The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation
  • Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
  • Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War
  • 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
  • House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties
  • The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
  • State of Denial
  • The Clinton Wars
  • What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News
  • Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War
  • The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them
  • Big Boy Rules: America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq
  • The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty
  • Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet
  • Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America
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
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