Books Report: War Memoirs From the Bush Administration

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Once government officials leave the stage, they often write memoirs in hopes of shaping how history will remember their tenure. Over at Small Wars Journal, Caleb S. Cage, a veteran of the Iraq war, helpfully reviews the recent books by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld.

The 2002 West Point graduate shakes them up, and sees what rises to the top. His assessments, in a nutshell:

Bush (Decision Points, 2010):

President Bush chooses the most unique approach, largely eschewing chronology instead arranging his memoir around major decisions he has made throughout his lifetime.  Whether it was deciding to quit drinking, deciding to run for public office, or deciding to take the nation to wars, his description lays out compelling cases made by a man far more complex than often portrayed.

Cheney (In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, 2011):

Cheney has an uncommon storyteller’s touch, and the strength of his book is found in the power of that story.  As he tells it, he was a young man not necessarily destined for greatness but he repeatedly found himself growing more and more comfortable inside the halls of power as he grew older.

Rice (No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington, 2011):

Rice proves to be the most compelling writer in the group, and that by a long shot.  Writing of historical events from a deeply personal level, often including her thoughts and feelings, her fears and her confidences, her victories and defeats.  While not sentimental, it is evocative and emotional, touching on historical events from a deeply personal perspective.

Rumsfeld (Known and Unknown, 2011):

Rumsfeld, on the other hand, distinguishes himself among this group for actively and obviously attempting to shape history in his own favor. Although he lived a fascinating and significant life, it is lost somewhat in the fact that he clearly sees himself as a towering historical figure, and probably has from a young age.