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Against All Enemies

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  3,301 ratings  ·  177 reviews

"The [Bush] administration has squandered the opportunity to eliminate al Qaeda....A new al Qaeda has emerged and is growing stronger, in part because of our own actions and inactions. It is in many ways a tougher opponent than the original threat we faced before September 11, and we are not doing what is necessary to make America safe from that threat."

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Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 26th 2004 by Free Press (first published January 1st 2004)
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Scott Porch
Fucking scary. Clark had the curious fortune of heading counterterrorism in both the Clinton White House and the Bush White House. The latter was worse by a gigantic margin. The day after 9/11, Bush was pacing the Situation Room beneath the West Wing asking everyone whether they thought Iraq had anything to do with it. He certainly thought so, as did Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney. Or not. It’s hard to tell the difference between the dishonest and the misguided in the Bush Administration. Either ...more
Will Byrnes
This is the center of the controversy. Clarke is the most informed insider when it comes to the federal government's response to and planning for terrorism. He should know. As the White House anti-terrorism Czar he was in a central position from the 90s to the present, and was in the business for 30 years, covering the presidencies of Reagan, Bush the first, Clinton and Bush 43. He says that the incoming Bush administration was so contrarian about Clinton that they ignored the plans and advice p ...more
a must read for the limited number of intelligent americans. clarke relates his history as a presidential advisor from reagan to w bush. the pace is brisk and breezy, like a thriller, but crammed with fascinating facts about government operations. the payoff is that w appears as a gullible dimwit manipulated by fossilized cold-warriors unable to realize the dangers to a post soviet world posed by terrorists. i could go on at length.
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror by Richard A. Clarke

"Against All Enemies" is a fascinating book about the recent history of terrorism during the presidential years of Bush senior, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush from the point of view from insider and counterterrorism czar Richard A. Clarke. This 352-page book is composed of the following eleven chapters: 1.Evacuate the White House, 2. Stumbling into the Islamic World, 3. Unfinished Mission, Unintended Consequences, 4. Terro
Richard Clarke has worked in the area of national security for the past 30 years. He was head of counterterrorism affairs for Presidents Clinton and Bush II. In this book, he severely criticizes the current Bush Administration for its lack of interest in terrorism and al Qaeda before 9/11, and its disastrous decisions afterwards.

He first explores the Reagan and Bush I reactions to events like Lockerbie, TWA 800, and the Beirut bombing that killed over 200 American soldiers. The word "terrorism"
There was some really great insight at the opening of the book about what happened on and right after 9/11, and also suggestions at the end of the book about how to handle foreign relations and use of force after 9/11. However, the meat of the book was a bitchfest of I-told-you-so's and all the ways that Clinton was better than Bush Jr. Maybe too much about 9/11 is still classified, but this tell-all felt like either a teaser/prequel, or just a way for Clarke to complain about what wasn't done t ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pooja Anand
A fantastic historical insider view by Richard Clark, this is one of those books that would make you frustrated with every line you read. And this is what happened with me. This is not the first account of events inside the White House on 9/11 and in the desperate days that followed. It was Bob Woodward, in Bush at War, who first described how the neo-conservatives tried to link the attack on the Twin Towers with Iraq and goaded Bush to use it as a pretext for war against Saddam Hussein. However ...more
Les Aucoin
In this authoritative account of the U.S.'s rash rush to war in Iraq, the US's former chief counter-terrorism adviser describes in searing detail the fool's errand that Bush and Cheney sent us on in their war of choice, not necessity. Written by one who was there, and wasn't listened to. Read it to help ensure this never happens again.
A very fast paced account of the last twenty years of terrorism politics, Clark's account is very informative and insider. This is the first book I've read on the topic. It clearly paints the GWB administration in a bad light for it's poor decision making and it's focus on Iraq vs. finishing the job in Afghanstan. I would be interested to see what others think about what happened.

Some of the interesting highlights:
1. Clinton vs. Bush Jr. -> While both entered the White House underestimating t
Tommy /|\
The critics claim that he had an axe to grind against Shrub's Administration for not appointing him to a position in their Administration. After reading the book, you can definitely say that -- for about 30 pages in the book. The other 273 pages detail a lot of the failings of four Administrations (the current Administration is not included in this book, simply because they weren't running for office in 2004). At several junctures, Clarke points out that America has not been good about keeping e ...more
As the election approaches, I feel a moral imperative to do more research on the subject. I'm sure this will only solidify my vote, but I see it as a civic obligation to be more informed.
While I wouldn't give the book 5 stars because of the writing style or cleverness of language, the sheer importance of the issue and the enlightenment he brings to the subject warrants the high rating. Simply put, every American should read this book. Or for those with short attention spans, at least the f
My husband has just bought Dude Where’s My Country and Liars and the Lying Lies they Tell. Before I read those I wanted to read what may have really happened, sans humor. (Five years later I still haven't read Al Franken...)

I rarely read non-fiction for fun, but this highly readable book was often shocking and disturbing. Clarke spent thirty years working for the Pentagon and the Executive Branch attempting to protect Americans from just the kind of attack that happened on 9/11. The FBI hid the
This book fleshed out for me the reasons that make me believe that going to war with Iraq was a mistake. Although Clarke probably has some political axe to grind or some money to make from the indictments he levels at the current Bush administration, his clear reasoning and the fact that he worked for Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes, make me believe what he has to say. And that is, that somehow Bush I and Bush II have some obsession with Iraq that has skewed their perception of the threat it pose ...more
Nancy Schober
A horrifying glimpse into the train wreck relationship between the CIA and FBI immediately before 911. Hindsight is 20/20 they say. After reading the briefing at the end that said, ‘something horrible is going to happen soon, somewhere’ - I can see why Bush didn’t immediately shake billions of dollars free to buy gas masks/radiation burn kits for the entire population of New York City.

Now that Clinton is out of office his brilliance is really beginning to come to light, the story of him here is
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 10, 2011 Anthony rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in counterterrorism efforts before the second Bush
Recommended to Anthony by: internet
Richard Clarke's book was extremely informative and the details of previous administrations efforts against terrorist activity helped me frame, and better understand the situation America finds itself in today. It made me think about topics not only in the context of recent events, but with the knowledge of American involvement and history in the Middle East, which gradually led to increased Arab animosities and eventually to the Sept 11th attacks. This became the catalyst that changed all Ameri ...more
Did you ever wonder, in retrospect, what was really happening in the old White House while we were all being led down the garden path into a war in Iraq? Oh, there are some great shows out there that will give you the scoop (Frontline recently did a multiple show synopsis that was head-spinning) but really, aren't they all just fronts for the liberal leftist media? For everyone who nodded in response to that last query, grab the most recent version of Against All Enemies. Richard Clarke, my frie ...more
Amanda Konnik
Arriving a little late to the party, and a first hand knowledge of the outcome of America's War on Terror., "Against All Enemies" is an excellent review in the 'I told you so' American fault'ism. Written several years before Obama'a term and the ultimate end game, I enjoyed this easy to read and fast paced look at what happened behind the scenes. There is a rich dark blame game thread throughout the pages, that fascinates me, and a strong sense of ruthlessness paired with ego. A deadly pairing w ...more
Came across this in my dad's collection while reading Blair's bio, got to Blair's discussion of Iraq and thought I'd slip this in. It definitely makes me think Blair is a liar, because I definitely don't think he's a fool. This is not slick, it is not a man opening up his inner world and thoughts to you though it is by force somewhat autobiographical. It is an account of everything he and the white house have done to prevent terrorist attacks, and that is much more than I realised. Once again, i ...more
Aaron Crossen
I totally devoured this book. I wish I would have read it three years ago. Essentially, it's a stripped down memoir of former White House counterterrorism expert Dick Clarke's career as a civil servant. I say stripped down, because it focuses almost exclusively on the bureaucratic struggles and politiciking behind the hunt for al Qaeda before 9/11. No time for coffee or breakfast; this guy has four administrations to get through.

But is it ever riveting. While I had read stories in the papers an
Row Dela Rosa Yoon
The September 11, 2001 terror attacks were wake-up calls to take heed of the ripened and full-grown terrorism against America. Richard Clarke warns that any counter-attack against the enemy will only create more enemies, some are visible and known and some are not. The unknown enemies have a vast and extensive global network. They are lurking in the fog ready, at any time, to strike.

From Publishers Weekly

From the first thrilling chapter, which takes readers into the White House center of operati
I read this book when it was first published. It was tough at the time to read about how all the opportunities to make good decisions were steadily squandered. I never was able to understand why we were invading Iraq, and this book did clarify to some extent as much as poor reasoning can be clarified.

I haven't revisited this book in the past four years, so I don't know how it is holding up to the changing times. When it came out it was excellent but slightly flawed by a certain touch of grandio
Aug 22, 2008 Tommy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Americans
Dick Clarke is an American hero and everyone should read this book. I never appreciated what a great president Bill Clinton was until I read this book. This book also gives even more concrete examples of the criminal negligence and partisan bs of the Bush administration. Incompetence does not begin to describe what this man and his cronies did. Bush has made us less secure, ignored imminent threats that lead to 9/11, taken away many of our civil liberties, ballooned the national debt to historic ...more
Stephanie "Jedigal"
Nov 03, 2008 Stephanie "Jedigal" rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the politics of our country's fight against terrorism
Hard for me to rate this. Read by the author, it discusses what was known about Al Qaeda BEFORE 9-11, and what the govt, through various actors and agencies, did and didn't do, both before and after, and the results of the actions and inactions. It's not, of course, a pretty picture.

I listened to this audio book in my car, in primarily 1/2 hour long jaunts. This material I would say is just a BIT too detailed to work well during distractions such as driving. I think I might come back to it somet
Ahhh = now I understand everything!

I am always wary of the Red Sox-Yankees mentality in all political memoirs these days, and Clarke certainly has VERY strong opinions (Clinton very good, Bush VERY bad)... but i just learned way too much reading this to dismiss him as too biased.

Clarke (as a national security insider for almost 20 years) connects all the dots of the past 2 decades and fully explains how politics and national security intermix. Clarke in and out of this book has proven himself to
Ethan Cramer-Flood
I'm a little behind the eight-ball with this read. I guess I figured late 2008 was a good time to catch up on the book that dominated the news cycle and punditocracy for most of 2004. I wasn't disappointed though: Clarke's tell-all doesn't feel dated, and for my money it's the most important international affairs book of the post-9/11 era.

You haven't lived until you've read the first 15 pages of this book. In all seriousness, I've never read non-fiction as intense, dramatic, and fascinating as h
John Wiswell
Aug 07, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Political readers, people who'd like to know what they're talking about
One of the best-written (even if it was probably ghost written) memoirs to come out of Washington D.C. in quite some time, Richard Clarke takes us inside the anti-terrorism wards of four presidents - from Reagan to the W. Bush. His best gift is to illustrate the attitude of each regime, and where their interests lay. It's written very sharply, drawing some excellent scenes from real life, including the opening - 9/11 in the White House. It is critical of all administrations, but considerably mor ...more
Sep 17, 2007 Nathan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Calm down. Breathe. Think. Add it to the pile...
It's hard to describe how alarming this book is. Sadly, the events described inside it aren't too surprising. If the great surprise of the 9/11 Commission Report was that Monica Lewinsky kept us distracted from getting Bin Laden during Clinton's administration, the great surprise of this book is how an "anything but Clinton" attitude in the new Bush administration helped ensure there'd be no national security meetings on terrorism. No matter which party you blame the failures of 9/11 on (assumin ...more
This book is similar in its presentation to another I read by another National Security Council staffer, David Rothkopf, entitled "Running the World."

I purposely chose to avoid reading this book for quite a time after it came out, as I generally dislike the "timely" political non-fiction. I find that the basic premise is:

I was right. Nobody listened to me. The government operated best when I was at the zenith of power during my career. It was bad before I got to this point and has fallen apart s
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Does Richard Clarke provide any answers to the current Iraq dilemma? 1 15 Mar 31, 2008 11:27AM  
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  • House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties
  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
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  • Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet
  • The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
  • Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War
  • American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush
  • The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
  • Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
  • A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the  Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies
  • Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush
  • The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
  • The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Put the White House on Trial and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity
  • The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy
Richard Alan Clarke was a U.S. government employee for 30 years, 1973–2003. He worked for the State Department during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to chair the Counter-terrorism Security Group and to a seat on the United States National Security Council. President Bill Clinton retained Clarke and in 1998 promoted him to be the National Coordina ...more
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