Sue Burke's Reviews > By His Own Rules: The Story of Donald Rumsfeld

By His Own Rules by Bradley Graham
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's review
Feb 13, 2011

really liked it

I waited patiently for my copy of this book for over a year as the publication deadline kept being extended because I wanted to try to understand Donald Rumsfeld. I'd been opposed to the invasion of Iraq, but had been charmed by Rumsfeld in his early briefings as things progressed. His infamous dismissal of "stuff happens" as the looting took hold, though, made me take a second look at him, and as the postwar problems increased, I kept wanting to know how it had all gotten away from him.

In the end, the wait for "By His Own Rules" was worth it. I agree with the criticism that Bradley Graham needed a stronger editor .... I don't think the book needed to be as long as it is. But he writes a compelling biography of Rumsfeld that was compulsively readable. It didn't change my mind about Rumsfeld's mismanagement of the war; details of the lengths to which Rumsfeld fought for control of power at the expense of giving the army and the postwar planners the people and support they needed left me shaking my head, as did his seeming detachment as things went wrong. But Bradley does draw a complex picture of Rumsfeld that gives the reader glimpses of a different side of him when it came to friendships and family, and a clear understanding of how his personality led him to be the kind of Secretary of Defense he was. I'd recommend the book highly to anyone who wants to try to understand Donald Rumsfeld .... my only reason for not giving the book a full five stars was my reservations over the length of it.
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