Known and Unknown (Rumsfeld)

Book Reviews
Mr. Rumsfeld’s memoir plays a fast and loose game of dodge ball with what are now “known knowns” and “known unknowns” about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The tedious, self-serving volume is filled with efforts to blame others—most notably the C.I.A., the State Department and the Coalition Provisional Authority (in particular George Tenet, Colin L. Powell, Condoleezza Rice and L. Paul Bremer III)—for misjudgments made in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the failure to contain an insurgency there that metastasized for years. It is a book that suffers from many of the same flaws that led the administration into what George Packer of The New Yorker has called “a needlessly deadly” undertaking—that is, cherry-picked data, unexamined assumptions and an unwillingness to re-examine past decisions.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times


A hefty and heavily annotated accounting and defense of [Donald Rumsfeld's] life in public service. "Never much of a handwringer, I don’t spend a lot of time in recriminations, looking back or second-guessing decisions made in real time with imperfect information by myself or others,” he writes. But hand-wring he does, in repeated blasts of Rumsfeldian score-settling that come off as a cross between setting the record straight and doggedly knocking enemies off pedestals.... The book is full of little nuggets..., but at its heart, it is a revenge memoir.... Rumsfeld has careful and consistent praise for only a few — chief among them George W. Bush, Gerald Ford and Richard B. Cheney.
Gwen Ifill - Washington Post


Donald Rumsfeld's Known and Unknown is thus one of the most important contributions to a growing list of remembrances of our most recent wars. The book is crisply written, blending narrative detail with personal judgment and reflection. Mr. Rumsfeld begins by giving us a fine, if compressed, account of his life before becoming George W. Bush's defense secretary in 2001.... But the bulk of Known and Unknown inevitably refers to the events that followed 9/11—that is, to the Bush administration's wars in Afghanistan and, especially, Iraq. From his accounts of various meetings and planning sessions, it is clear that the decision to go to war was not taken lightly, and Mr. Rumsfeld, to this day, does not doubt the wisdom of removing Saddam Hussein from power, even if weapons of mass destruction were never found in Iraq.
Robert H. Scales - Wall Street Journal


It's wearisome always being right, particularly when so many others are so wrong, so often — at least that's the impression a reader is most likely to draw from Rumsfeld's exhaustive, exasperating but vigorously written memoir.... Masterful bureaucratic survivor that he was until he ran out of room to maneuver, Rumsfeld delivers a memoir that is all about shifting blame and settling scores.
Tim Rutten - Los Angeles Times

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