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Obama's Wars

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  4,871 ratings  ·  305 reviews
In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward provides the most intimate and sweeping portrait yet of the young president as commander in chief. Drawing on internal memos, classified documents, meeting notes and hundreds of hours of interviews with most of the key players, including the president, Woodward tells the inside story of Obama making the critical decisions on the Afghanistan Wa ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published September 27th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2010)
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Fascinating account of decision making in the White House. Reads like a thriller. Obama relies too much on his Chicago Mafia but is firmly in charge. Rahm was a mistake. He wouldn't even show Jones, the NSA, drafts of speeches. The NSA had to listen to them like the rest of the nation and Obama let this happen. General Jones, a class guy, was not respected. I almost wanted to laugh and cry hearing the account of the war planning. I could have gotten more precise and sound advice from a bunch of ...more
Mal Warwick
We may not always say so, at least by using the same term, but what we look for in a President is, above all, leadership. Obama's Wars -- Bob Woodward's most recent behind-the-scenes report, a sort of current history -- provides a front-row seat on the leadership style of Barack Obama. As I view the scene Woodward portrays, President Obama comes off looking really good as a leader.

Obama's Wars is, essentially, an account of the months-long period in 2009 when President Obama, the members of Nati
The title of this book is perfect: Obama’s Wars. Bob Woodward gives us a detailed account of President Obama taking ownership of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama also takes charge of internal strife between bickering branches and rival departments of our government and military.

Obama’s Wars is not a fun or exciting book, even during its most engrossing passages. But I can see it being a worthwhile read even for a person who skims a few chapters, becomes overwhelmed by the political comple
Nov 28, 2011 Trena rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Steely-Nerved Politico
While the boyfriend and I both enjoy reading, we have completely different tastes. I am history and science; he is politics and law. However, on our trip to Ecuador I was afraid of running out of book (1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, the perfect companion for a trip to South America) and so I "borrowed" the copy of Obama's Wars he'd brought with him.

I was fascinated. I'd always suspected Bob Woodward of resting on his Watergate laurels for the past 37 years (I know exactly

This book might be useful as a case study for the decision-making process among civilian and military agencies during wartime, but as a read for general interest, it's mostly repetitive and unsatisfying. A more honest title would be The Process of Deciding How Many Troops to Send to Afghanistan, in 2009 & 2010.

I don't usually read nonfiction political books, but because I happen to have thrown a bunch of them in my $10-per-shopping-bag buy, I happen to have read three of them within six mon
Jonathan Mckay
First: The title has a typo. It should be titled 'Obama's war' as there is no reporting on decisions related to Iraq.

The Good:

Woodward has remarkable access. He paints a picture that makes sense, and has more anecdotes about the top levels of government than anyone. Woodward shows how decision making happens, and that White House politics is really a permutation of regular office politics (both in Republican and Democrat administrations). He keeps good track of all the actors rather than relyin
Japhy Grant
As expected, Woodward offers a masterful minute by minute account of the Obama administration's execution of drawdowns in Iraq and mostly Afghanistan. It's a portrait of an engaged, pragmatic young President whose focus on results often comes off as cerebral and bloodless; that is to say, there's little new herea about Obama we don't already know.

It's the details that make the book fascinating and if you ever wanted to know how foreign policy is made, here's your cook book. Unsurprisingly, consi
I love Bob Woodward's books. He gets amazing access and can usually draw me right into whatever his subject matter is. His Price of Politics about the debt ceiling/budget negotiation around the "fiscal cliff" is one of my favorite books of the last few years.

This one wasn't the greatest for me. Maybe because it was such a narrow slice of the story: Obama's first two years of his presidency. Woodward does a good job showing how Obama's lack of experience was a debacle in those first years in the
Frank Kelly
Bob Woodward has literally formed a cottage industry of in-depth, exhaustively researched books on the presidency. We read his three volume set on the Bush White House, the Clinton White House and a host of other books on Washington, power, intrigue and crisis. All ranged from good to excellent in what they offer in terms of insight. This books falls close to the “excellent” category.

Woodward’s first book on the Obama Administration takes the reader through the transfer of power and leadership o
Steven Peterson
Every time I read one of Bob Woodward's books, I wonder why people are so open to speaking with him. They must know that their words and ideas will appear in print. And not always in a flattering manner. . . .

This work focuses on Obama's work with his often fractious foreign policy-national defense-intelligence team. We read of the actors' views of the process of whither to go in Afghanistan. The focus is the run-up to President Obama's decision on a "surge" in Afghanistan.

We see many facets of
Michael Griffith
I don't know if I want these wars to end to see Woodward write about something else or continue, since I clearly am eating this stuff up.

This is the first Kindle book I've read, which I read on Donna II and Harley (Samsung Galaxy S and 13" MacBook Pro, for those of you that don't know the names of my computers...shut up). I feel like this is the ideal kind of book for this format, versus a novel or a think piece. It's like an extended newspaper article or blog and I'm thinking of reading Game Ch
William Breakstone

Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward

Reviewed by Bill Breakstone, November 28, 2010

When Bob Woodward’s latest book, “Obama’s Wars,” was released for publication some six weeks ago, it was lavishly promoted with personal appearances by the author on just about every single talk show, and also accorded notoriety by some striking revelations of a personal nature of aides within both White House and Pentagon circles. I put off reading the volume as it seemed the critics and talking heads had more
Will Byrnes
Welcome to the sausage factory. When Otto Von Bismarck made his comment about the undesirability of witnessing the making of legislation, he could easily have included the making of foreign, particularly military policy.

When President Obama took office, he was faced not only with having to clean out the economic monkey cage the prior administration had left covered with feces, he also had to cope with two inherited wars. He had some very definite ideas on an approach to the Afghanistan War in p
Terrific reporting! Typical Woodward, long rambling insider gossip, incredible access to personal meetings, memos, and reports, along with a lack of editorializing which plagues modern journalism. ‘Obama’s Wars’ is one of his best books in years. It concentrates on the decision and pressures leading to the military surge in Afghanistan, from the generals pushing for more troops on one end, to Biden snipping in the other. As usual, Woodward provides a fly on the wall insight that can somehow appe ...more
To be expected from Bob Woodward... excellent writing, clear exposition of the facts as he sees them.

The main players come off as complex beings... The President as a very thoughtful and wise policy wonk. I'm amazed by his restraint. The Vice President as more emotional, more of a hip shooter, but in the end a strong presence and a positive addition to the team. The various military figures as a combination of excellence in their main work, and totally insensitive to the politics of the matter..
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
I just finished "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward. I don't know that I feel ready to review a book by Woodward, but I do have some thoughts after reading it.

First of all, the book seems more about the bureaucratic push and shove between the White House, the State Department, the CIA and the Department of Defense about how to deal with Afghanistan. The Obama Administration had come into office with promises to draw down in Iraq and focus on Afghanistan. The question was to what degree: how many troo
It never ceases to amaze me how Woodward can get his sources to talk so openly. This book is no exception, and it reads like a political thriller.

Woodward takes us through the quagmire of Afghanistan that the Bush Presidency has left for Obama, and how the president has to take in and appreciate what the military brass is advising while maintaining his duty as civilian commander-in-chief. The military wants to have a 15-year timeline -- and that is on top of the 9 years we've already been there.
Bob Woodward has the seniority and the access to get the insiders' story. This is a detailed account of the negotiations among the White House, the military, the diplomats, and the intelligence community on whether and how many troops to commit to Afghanistan. The story will give you new respect for most, if not all, of the players. And you'll also appreciate the complexity and the difficulty of the decision. You can make your own judgment about its wisdom and the chances of its success.

As usual, Woodward produces a hastily written book which is more a collage of interviews than anything else. Then again, Woodward has access--and one can learn a lot about the process by which Obama decided on his surge. Two facts emerge in sharp relief: First, the military didn't give Obama any serious options/alternatives besides what they wanted. They "rolled" him, as numerous players claim, giving him two impossible options and one option they preferred. Second, no one in the military could ...more
This is the first Bob Woodward book that I have read immediately upon release. It was very informative about the Afghan strategy review in late 2009, in fact sometimes including so much detail as to seem excessive and getting bogged down. Nonetheless, Woodward's work here is something of a public service, revealing how President Obama and his national security team "made the sausage" that was the 30,000 troop increase for the Afghan War. It was also interesting (and disappointing) to see all the ...more
Oct 07, 2010 Velvetink marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, wishlist, politics
So finally sitting down to watch the world news tonight (after not watching any for the last few weeks) managed to hear about three interesting authors. Bob Woodward being one of them. (Bob and Lee Woodruff
and Nancy Sherman being the other two, all writing on current war topics).

I think this book is a must read to understand the situation from both sides.

Not knowing anything about Woodward I checked wiki...and he is regarded as one of America's preeminent investigative reporters and non-fiction
Woodward's new book is a fly-on-the-wall examination of Obama's strategy review of Afghanistan. The book contains a shocking amount of candid interviews and quotes from administration officials that illustrate a disconnect between the military and civilian leadership.

While informative and even entertaining in parts, the book feels sloppy and hastily written. Woodward narrates the administration's strategy review in strict chronological order and with little commentary. As an investigative repor
Informative book, interesting subject which I knew nothing about before reading. Perhaps because of my lack of knowledge, I got confused at times, particularly with the military dynamics, but the author includes a helpful list of "characters" in the beginning so that you can remember who is who. There's also a glossary at the end, which is helpful for deciphering the military acronyms. Overall, it's written pretty objectively; the author offers the opinions of several people on a given subject w ...more
This book wasn't as broad in Presidential coverage than some of Woodward's other books, but being written in Obama's first year, I guess there wasn't much more to cover on the International front other than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Reading it in 2010 makes it seem like you're being given live insights into White House and Pentagon meetings. To hear what the military leaders are thinking and planning, and then seeing the results of their plans covered subsequently on the evening news is ...more
Keith McCormick
Admittedly, reading a book like Obama's wars, which is as much journalism as history, is best read when it comes out. It covers the first 18 months of the Obama administration. I was so impressed with Woodward's reporting that as soon as I completed this book I ordered Bush at War. I am confident that I will find that valuable even though many years have passed since that book, the first of the Woodward books about Bush, was written. My decision also underscores that my enjoyment of Woodward's w ...more
It is clear that the Obama administration inherited this unnecessary war from his predecessor. Woodward describes the struggle between the White House and the US Army how many soldiers should strengthen the US forces in Afghanistan after his election. The result would be around 30.000 extra.

Personally, I think it is difficult to resolve the Afghanistan situation. Not reacting towards the 11/9 attacks would show a sign of weakness towards islamic terrorism. But once boots on the ground around the
Gerald Kinro
It begins with the period right after the president’s election and ends with the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal and his replacement by General David Petraeus—roughly two years. The new president must pick his foreign policy team and decide what to do about Afghanistan. The new Afghanistan commander, McCrystal has requested 40,000 more troops. Does he get it. There are enough people in the foreign policy team who deem that any effort of this scale would be futile. Petreus, who is credi ...more
Tyson Peveto
This was a great read for anybody wanting to know how Obama's administration makes big military decisions. Whether you agree with said decisions or not, the book shows how much thought and intelligent debate goes into them. I was impressed.
Andrew Zapf
Admittedly, this book was published before Robert Gates transitioned out as Defense Secretary and the July 2011 review of Afghanistan troop levels was conducted. It's the long and repetitive story of a string of conversations and meetings concerning the number and purpose of sending additional troops to Afghanistan. Throughout its 400-pages is a journey of political advisors and military leaders not being able to gel as an important team within the administration and consistently putting multipl ...more
Easy read that really brings to light how National Policy decision are made. Well worth the read to realize that this is a people game and access is king.
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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
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“...Obama said, 'I welcome debate among my team, but I won't tolerate division.” 12 likes
“Sometimes,doing nothing is the best reaction.” 5 likes
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