With his unmatched investigative skill, Bob Woodward tells the behind-the-scenes story of how President George W. Bush and his top national security advisers, after the initial shock of the September 11 attacks, led the nation to war.
Extensive quotations from the secret deliberations of the National Security Council -- and firsthand revelations of the private thoughts, concerns and fears of the president and his war cabinet -- make Bush at War an unprecedented chronicle of a modern presidency in time of grave crisis.
Based on interviews with more than a hundred sources and four hours of exclusive interviews with the president, Bush at War reveals Bush's sweeping, almost grandiose, vision for remaking the world. "I'm not a textbook player, I'm a gut player," the president said.
Woodward's virtual wiretap into the White House Situation Room reveals a stunning group portrait of an untested president and his advisers, three of whom might themselves have made it to the presidency.
Vice President Dick Cheney, taciturn but hard-line, always pressing for more urgency in Afghanistan and toward Iraq.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, the cautious diplomat and loyal soldier, tasked with building an international coalition in an administration prone to unilateralism.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the brainy agitator and media star who led the military through Afghanistan and, he hopes, through Iraq.
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, the ever-present troubleshooter who surprisingly emerges as perhaps the president's most important adviser.
Bush at War includes a vivid portrait of CIA director George Tenet, ready and eager for covert action against terrorists in Afghanistan and worldwide. It follows a CIA paramilitary team leader on a covert mission inside Afghanistan to pay off assets and buy friends with millions in U.S. currency carried in giant suitcases.
In Bush at War, Bob Woodward once again delivers a reporting tour de force.
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
Simon & Schuster
November 18, 2002
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Bush at War by Bob Woodward
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, began as one of those spectacular pre-fall days on the East Coast, sunny, temperatures in the 70s, light winds, the sky a vivid light blue. With President George W. Bush traveling in Florida that morning promoting his education agenda, his intelligence chief, CIA Director George J. Tenet, didn't have to observe the 8 A.M. ritual of personally briefing the president at the White House on the latest and most important top secret information flowing into America's vast spy empire.
Instead Tenet, 48, a hefty, outgoing son of Greek immigrants, was having a leisurely breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel, three blocks north of the White House, with the man who was most responsible for his rise in the world of secret intelligence -- former Oklahoma Democratic Senator David L. Boren. The two had struck up an unusually close friendship going back 13 years when Tenet was a mid-level staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Boren chaired. Boren had found Tenet to be a gifted briefer and had jumped him over others with more seniority to make him staff director, a post which granted him access to virtually all the nation's intelligence secrets.
Boren then recommended Tenet to President-elect Bill Clinton in 1992, urging that he be appointed to head the administration's transition team on intelligence. The following year, Tenet was named National Security Council staff director for intelligence, responsible for coordinating all intelligence matters for the White House, including covert action. In 1995, Clinton named him deputy CIA director, and two years after that, he appointed him director of central intelligence (DCI), charged with heading the CIA and the vast U.S. intelligence community.
High-strung and a workaholic, Tenet had a heart attack while he was NSC intelligence staff director. He could be volatile. During President Clinton's second term, when he was CIA director, he stormed out of a principals' committee meeting that included the secretaries of state and defense but not the president. He thought the meeting, which was keeping him from attending his son's school Christmas play, was droning on too long. "Fuck you, I'm leaving" had been his parting comment. But Tenet had since learned how to control his temper.
In early 2001, Boren called President-elect Bush, praising Tenet as nonpartisan and urging him to keep him on as CIA director. Ask your father, he suggested. When the younger Bush did, the former President George H.W. Bush said, "From what I hear, he's a good fellow," one of the highest accolades in the Bush family lexicon. Tenet, who has a keen nose for cultivating political alliances, had helped the senior Bush push through the controversial nomination of Robert Gates as CIA director in 1991, and later led the effort to rename CIA headquarters for Bush, himself a former DCI.
The former president also told his son, the most important thing you'll do as president every day is get your intelligence briefing.