Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review - Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates
Hardcover: 640 pages
Publisher: Knopf; First Edition/First Printing edition (January 14, 2014)

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote a candid but vivid written account of his experience in serving Presidents Bush and Obama during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before getting a call in 2006 to serve his country once more, Gates was done with politics.  After serving 6 presidents between the CIA and National Security Council, Gates got a job as the president of Texas A&M University, where he was happy.

The U.S. was at war with fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq and he felt that this was the call of duty.  His unsparing memoir is fair in its assessments and he takes us behind the scenes of his five years as Secretary of Defense.  In the book, he depicts his battles with Congress, the military, the Pentagon bureaucracy, and two presidents to name a few.

In working for Obama, Gates's leadership was guiding but he was often the dissenting voice on issues but Hates was devoted to and had a love for American soldiers---his "heroes"--that he helped to develop on the job.

It is while he relates his personal journey as secretary that Gates draws us to those inner sanctums of government and military power.  This is where he offers unvarnished appraisals of the likes of Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.  In doing so, he exposes the behind-closed-doors politicking of the administrations.

There's the controversies that came up during his tenure, too, such as the surges, Iran, Syria, and others.

At its heart, this is a powerful story that takes an unprecedented look at two White House administrations.

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