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A Personal Portrait


Midge Decter (View Bio)
Hardcover: ReganBooks , 2003; Paperback: ReganBooks, 2004.


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has become the leading spokesman for the Bush administration on all matters related to the military and its prosecution of the war on terror. Midge Decter, an accomplished political journalist who has enjoyed over two decades of personal friendship with Rumsfeld, will answer the question of why and how he has come to play such a critical role at this obviously critical moment. Partly biographical and partly analytical, the book focuses on Rumsfeld's past and current activities as well as what he represents: an ethos of sturdiness, frankness, and resilience that has clearly resonated with the American public in a post-Clinton wartime era. Decter gained Rumsfeld's full cooperation, and she trailed him through the Pentagon and beyond as he prosecuted the war on terror and the military campaign against Saddam Hussein. The daily stresses of advising the president, handling the media, crafting military policy, and dealing with issues of life and death are examined from the inside—as they happened. This book offers a dynamic, intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the biggest political star (apart from the president himself) of the Bush administration.

"The book is elegantly written, and clearly Decter had access to people who are not talking to reporters on a day-to-day basis and is able to offer up many nuggests of insight and perspective. The vilification of Rumsfeld, especially abroad but even in the mainstream American press, is absurdly excessive, and Decter is absolutely right to provide a favorable counter-context.... Decter shows that many of the critical portrayals of Rumsfeld in the press are as much a caricature as is the famous Saturday Night Live skits. You know a man by his enemies and by his friends. In Rumsfeld's case, both his friends and enemies agree on one thing: He is larger than life. Such a remarkable man deserves several biographies." — The Weekly Standard

"RUMSFELD, which was completed shortly after the Iraq war's official end, offers a fine opportunity to assess the architect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.... Decter does an excellent job of showing that Rumsfeld himself has never been a yes man and that the military loathes him largely for his perceptive insistence on transforming it into a modern force. But for all Rumsfeld's zeal to go on the attack, it's far from clear that he's a member of the neoconservative camp." — Los Angeles Times

"Like the man himself, [Decter's] 'personal portrait' is both intellectually engaging and easy to like. As political biographies go, this slim...[is] concise, on point.... Decter had extraordinary access to Mr. Rumsfeld himself, who is quoted liberally, and to the family and friends near him..... Mr. Rumsfeld doesn't seem the type to sit still long enough to write his memoirs. But who knows? Perhaps on day he'll retire to his ranch in New Mexico and take up his pen. Until then, Ms. Decter's account of his life and thinking is as close to the official Rumsfeldian view as we're likely to get." — The Wall Street Journal

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