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Against All Enemies

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  4,493 ratings  ·  218 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 March 22nd 2004)
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,493 ratings  ·  218 reviews

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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 2003, 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 proffere ...more
Scott Porch
Jan 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Diana Gangan
This book is at the same time a captivating tale of USA's involvement in the Middle East that started during the Soviet-Afghan war and a scathing indictment of Bush the son and his moronic, ineffectual, demagogue 'advisors' - Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, Rice.

It is useful and educational to understand more about terrorism before the day the twin towers collapsed on live television and before many in the US or around the world even heard of terrorism, al Qaeda, or bin Laden. Sadly, the book end
A bit dated, but really good first-person account of the fight against terrorism leading up to and slightly beyond 9/11. Clarke does at times seem as if he's trying cover his ***, but he puts out a fair account of his bosses' (i.e. presidents') competencies with regards to their understandings of the terrorism issue. In his view Iraq was a clear distraction, based on some discredited theories of their purported involvement in the '93 World Trade Center bombings. It's interesting reading this mat ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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"
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reading this concurrent with Donald Trump saying about Obama, ". . . ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS, he's the founder of ISIS, the founder . . . .", even if he meant it metaphorically regarding Obama's policies & responses - which Trump, by the way, denies meaning - the book makes him look uninformed & foolish. Good book. Informative. Helpful in placing terrorism today in a context that makes the history meaningful. Clarke is open about his perceptions being ...more
Les Aucoin
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Great inside view of the events of 9/11, as written by Richard A. Clarke, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council under Clinton and Bush.
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Richard Clarke was a counterterrorism official in Washington before it was cool. He was sounding the alarm about al Qaeda for years before 9/11 and was frustrated that his warnings were not taken seriously. On the morning of 9/11 he assumed the role that the yet-to-be-invented Secretary of Homeland Security might, coordinating with different agencies to ground planes, close national monuments, and mobilize first responders.

The book documents how he feels terrorist threats should have been handle
Mar 16, 2015 rated it liked it
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Feb 09, 2012 rated it liked it
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Matthew Kresal
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to believe that it's been close to two decades since 9/11. Even more remarkable is that the War on Terror it spawned didn't, in fact, start that day but had been festering for nearly two decades. One man who can speak to those early days is Richard Clarke, former U.S. chief counter-terrorism advisor and author of this very book. Clarke takes the reader through different Presidential administrations with very different policies (or lack thereof) towards terrorism. It's an insider accoun ...more
Joseph Stieb
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting memoir about a guy at the center of the War on Terrorism from the 1980's to the 2000's. Clarke is a good analyst and a good story-teller. He brings some crucial inside info about key figures in the Bush admin (Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, mainly) who reoriented the American response to 9/11 away from al Qaeda and Afghanistan and toward Saddam Hussein. The bulk of the book, however, is really about his experiences in fighting terrorism and trying to reorganize the government to become bett ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Obviously it took me a while to get around to this, but I'm still glad to have read it. Though I tired of all the bewildering agencies and the number of officials mentioned, I suppose it is necessary to wade through them in a book aim at a lay audience. If nothing else, this is worth reading just to see that at least someone was onto the BS from Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Rumsfeld from the beginning. I do wish I knew whether Clarke's assessment of Cheney as a rightwing fanatic dates to later or the ...more
Richard Wise
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
A bit tiresome after a while. Clarke treats us to a blow by blow of much of his anti-terrorism activity across the tenure of three presidents.

What is of particular interest is the Bush administration's insistence in finding a link or manufacturing a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Husain. If Clarke can be believed, and I do, it started the day after 9-11. Bush, Cheney and Wolfowitz were intent on finding a pretext to invade Iraq. Bet none of their kids ever joined that fight!
Tim Allen
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uncomfortable and very enlightening

It is unfortunate that books such as this one can not be written and read before tragic events happen - but wait, this is a good timely read now, to ponder scenarios of future events. I highly recommend it to , and believe it should be mandatory reading for those in government who are responsible for being wise enough to make good decisions. There are serious lessons to be learned herein.
Joey Mauro
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The absolute most credible and reputable work explaining America's efforts in counter-terrorism from the early 1980s to 9/11, the ignorance of warning signs leading to the attack, and the absurd response by entering into an unrelated war on false pretenses.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kinda dry but incredibly insightful book ! Its one of my first forays into politically charged books, I recommend either sipping from it occasionally or reading all the way through in one setting! Highly recommend.
Kevin Q
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Norman Mineta relays this story from the PEOC on 9/11:

Soldier: "The plane is 50 miles out, do the orders still stand?"

Cheney: "Yes the orders stand!"

Its just a funny story, like that time the drive-thru didn't give you the right flavor soda.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and troubling look at the inner-workings of counter-terrorism during the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st by someone who was there. Definitely worth a read, just not terribly well-written.
Suzanne Rancourt
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This non-fictional account is spot on past, present, and future. An intelligent read.
Noel Scheaffer
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Blistering critique of the United States' response to rise of al-Qaeda and multiple attacks. Very engaging and informative.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting, and disturbing, look at how government antiterrorism was run in the pre 9/11 era.
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
Jan 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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
Tommy /|\
Dec 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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Does Richard Clarke provide any answers to the current Iraq dilemma? 1 17 Mar 31, 2008 11:27AM  
  • Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
  • Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
  • The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill
  • House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties
  • American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush
  • State of Denial
  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
  • Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet
  • Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative
  • The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
  • The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception
  • Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America
  • Bushworld
  • The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Put the White House on Trial and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity
  • Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War
  • A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the  Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies
  • What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception
  • The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
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
“George Bush was right, however, when he said that “Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.” He made it so. He turned it from a nation that was not threatening us into a breeding ground for anti-American hatred. For a generation or more, we will be the victims of Iraqi revenge. And the Iraqis are not alone. The scenes of the U.S. occupation have inflamed Islamic opinion from Morocco and Western Europe, through the Middle East and South Asia, to Thailand and Indonesia. Radical Islamicists will not easily or soon be dissuaded of their hatred of America. Egypt’s President had said, “Before you invade Iraq there is one Usama bin Laden, after you invade there will be hundreds.” Hosni Mubarak was right. I” 2 likes
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