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Obama's Wars. Bob Woodward

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  5,882 Ratings  ·  329 Reviews
Drawing on hundreds of interviews with key administration officials, their deputies, and other firsthand sources, Woodward takes readers deep into the national security state and shows how Obama debates, decides, and balances the enormous pressures facing the modern president.
Paperback, 441 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2010)
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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
Oct 13, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: afghanistan
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
Jan 02, 2011 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Nov 28, 2011 Trena rated it really liked it  ·  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
Nov 10, 2010 Jake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Japhy Grant
Oct 05, 2010 Japhy Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 2010 Kyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 27, 2010 Drake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 07, 2010 Velvetink marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, war, wishlist
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
Sep 28, 2010 Gary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 23, 2014 Bruce rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

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
Oct 01, 2010 Malcolm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book review:

Obama’s Wars

Author: Bob Woodward

Simon & Shuster 2010

Bob Woodward is one of America’s best known investigative journalists having started his career at the Washington Post along with Carl Bernstein exposing the Watergate scandal that finally led to Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Woodward is impeccable in his research of President Obama’s first eighteen months in office. We learn inside stories related to Obama’s cabinet selections, the personalities of the power brokers in the Whit
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
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
Oct 06, 2010 Gerald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Apr 16, 2014 Stephen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 21, 2010 Randy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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..
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
Sep 27, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating insight into how this administration works. Startling contrast to how Bush's Whitehouse did analysis and decision making. Woodward lays out how the military consistently argued for the largest, most open-ended engagement in Afganistan possible. Obama's Whitehouse team, most of who had read Lessons In Disaster ( which analyzed the fiasco of Vietnam and how the military successfully boxed in LBJ to force a dramatic escalation buying arguing for ...more
Marie Gase
Sep 27, 2010 Marie Gase rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very detailed report of the creation of the strategy plan for the war in Afghanistan. Helped me understand how the system creates these plans and the relationship between the military, the president and all of the offices in Washington who have a hand in creating our strategy. And it is a messy and often time ineffective system. And often time there is no right thing to do- or right things to do that conflict with one another. And the amount of money spent and the lives lost are just a ...more
Elizabeth Sulzby
Oct 04, 2010 Elizabeth Sulzby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Woodward's plain prose sometimes underplays the depth and scope of research that he has done. I put this book aside to read Bush's Decision Points and Isikoff and Corn's Hubris, about the deceptive use of inappropriate intelligence. Bush's book documents through what it does and does not say that Bush is either a total liar or part liar and part oblivious narcissist (DSM be damned).

Hubris goes into depth about how Bush, Cheney, and cohorts were set for war in Iraq before 9-11 and how they decei
Steven Peterson
Oct 17, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 26, 2010 Amr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be a great read.
The book follows the events of the strategic review of Afghanistan before Obama reached the decision of deploying additional 30,000 troops that would be withdrawn in July 2011.
I like how the book gives an insight into the decision making process in Obama’s white house, the tension between the WH and the Pentagon, the dynamic of the different people participating in the process, and the balance that Obama tried to strike between making pro
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
Oct 08, 2010 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another balanced and well written book by Bob Woodward. I am very impressed with his coverage on nuances of Washington politics and the amount of secret information he was able to uncover. His book confirmed my perceptions of a complex and dangerous world requiring thoughtful strategy and steely resolve to untangle. I came away with more confidence in Obama's ability to cut through the BS and get to the core of the issue.

We are reaping the bitter fruit sown years ago cumulating in the who can i
Oct 05, 2010 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obama has all the intellectual rigor that George W. Bush did not have. He can actually focus on a problem for long periods of time, seeks out a variety of opinions and doesn't let himself be intimidated by anyone -- nor does he bully subordinates into telling him what he wants to hear. He may be inexperienced but I doubt he would have fallen for the CIA's Bay of Pigs plan as an arguably more experienced John Kennedy did.

Nevertheless, he's faced with a military establishment that seems contemptuo
Sep 26, 2010 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book could have probably been cut by a 1/3 and been great. Instead, Woodward relied on repetition, after repetition (and more repetition) to drive very mundane points home. He also, at every turn, felt he needed to provide the reader with just how cool it was that he had these "top secret" documents and sources. Yawn. No amount of secret evidence could save this book from being a bunch of meandering observations that were compiled into a meandering book.

I did enjoy how Obama was portrayed
Colin Birge
Yet another in Bob Woodward's occasionally flawed, always fascinating books on the high-stakes political world of Washington D.C. This one, his first on the Obama administration, focuses on the decision Obama took early in his presidency to deploy an additional 30,000 troops in Afghanistan: how did that decision get made?

It's an interesting subject matter choice, because Obama's first two years have been primarily painted by the media as about the economy and the health care bill. Woodward igno
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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.” 13 likes
“Sometimes,doing nothing is the best reaction.” 4 likes
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