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By His Own Rules cover


By Bradley Graham
Public Affairs Books




"A compelling and meticulously researched book. It is careful, human portrait that avoids the predictable cheap shots while eviscerating Rumsfeld's style, many of his decisions and their effects." --Nathaniel Fick, Washington Post (read the whole Washington Post review)

"Stands above mere topicality, particularly remarkable is (Graham's) fair-mindedness. The result is an engrossing biography; it's thorough, capacious reporting leaves those value judgments not absolutely required by the weight of the evidence to the reader. There's a sturdy, old-fashioned quality to Graham's appproach to his subject and this material, and the match works brilliantly. A major--and highly important--American political biography." --Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times (read the whole LA Times review)

"In the end, what this book does most clearly is remind the reader that there were plenty of warnings before the invasion of the postwar problems the United States might encounter in Iraq and that within months of the March 2003 invasion, critics were already calling for more troops and a new overall strategy to secure the country. With the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004, some members of Congress and Bush’s own inner circle were urging a change at the Pentagon, but, Mr. Graham says, “the president remained reluctant to do anything that might disrupt the management of the war and wasn’t convinced that anyone else could easily take over from Rumsfeld.” Mr. Bush would not decide to replace the defense secretary for another two years." --Michiko Kakutani, New York Times [read the whole NY Times review]

"Authoritative and judicious, particularly on questions of where responsibility lies for decisions about the Iraq war." --Christopher Caldwell, New York Times Sunday Book Review [read the entire NY Times Sunday Book Review piece]

"Journalists have produced many caricatures of Donald Rumsfeld, but no portraits. Until now, that is. Bradley Graham's By His Own Rules (PublicAffairs) offers a nuanced portrayal of the former defense secretary that is likely to serve as the definitive work for years to come. Those who dislike Rumsfeld will find plenty to stoke their anger; those who admire him much that is praiseworthy. Those few with an open mind will learn a great deal about the man, his gifts and his flaws." --Tom Mahnken, Foreign Policy [read the whole Foreign Policy review]

"The fallacies surrounding Rumsfeld’s persona have distracted many from accurately weighing the man’s shortcomings and appreciating his virtues; it will be quite some time before history delivers its final verdict on Donald Rumsfeld. But by looking beyond the hype, Graham has made a significant contribution to the first draft." --Jamie M. Fly, The National Review (read the entire National Review review)

"It’s as if Graham, in studying an undoubtedly potent figure whose vision was nevertheless marred by a tendency to dismiss all conflicting views peremptorily, felt obliged to weigh every conceivable mitigating fact with the utmost care. That is not to say that By His Own Rules wastes words. Rumsfeld has been one of America’s political prime movers. The fascinating contradictions of this complex and influential personality demand a serious enquiry, and that is what we have here." --Andy Bunday, The Tribune Magazine [read the whole Tribune review]

"Full of revealing anecdotes and insights, even if the sources are the usual Beltway backstabbers. Two and a half years have passed since Rumsfeld resigned as defense secretary. Although the best assessment of his impact will come from historians, this is a very good start." --Michael O'Donnell, barnesandnoble.com [read the whole Barnesandnoble.com review]


[in the news]

WATCH Bradley Graham on PBS's Charlie Rose Show, and CSPAN's Washington Journal.

LISTEN to Bradley's appearances on NPR's Fresh Air and WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show.

READ Bradley on firedoglake.com.


“Donald Rumsfeld is one of the most interesting and troubling figures of the Bush era, and Bradley Graham is the perfect writer to explore his disastrous reign at the Pentagon. Graham, a veteran military reporter, is scrupulously fair in weighing Rumsfeld’s strengths and weaknesses. This is likely to be the definitive book on Rumsfeld, one that historians will turn to a century from now.” —Thomas E. Ricks, author of The Gamble: General Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-08 and Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003-05.

“The first real, genuine, and mature biography of Rumsfeld—told with balance, empathy, and a toughness that Rumsfeld should appreciate. If anyone doubts that personality impacts and infects policy, read this excellent book. It is both fair-minded and blistering.”
Bob Woodward, author of The War Within, State of Denial, Plan of Attack and Bush at War




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