Obama's Wars

Obama's Wars Summary

In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward provides the most intimate and sweeping portrait yet of the young president as commander in chief. Drawing on internal memos, classified documents, meeting notes and hundreds of hours of interviews with most of the key players, including the president, Woodward tells the inside story of Obama making the critical decisions on the Afghanistan War, the secret campaign in Pakistan and the worldwide fight against terrorism.    

At the core of Obama’s Wars is the unsettled division between the civilian leadership in the White House and the United States military as the president is thwarted in his efforts to craft an exit plan for the Afghanistan War.   

 “So what’s my option?” the president asked his war cabinet, seeking alternatives to the Afghanistan commander’s request for 40,000 more troops in late 2009.  “You have essentially given me one option. ...It’s unacceptable.”  

 “Well,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates finally said, “Mr. President, I think we owe you that option.”   

It never came. An untamed Vice President Joe Biden pushes relentlessly to limit the military mission and avoid another Vietnam. The vice president frantically sent half a dozen handwritten memos by secure fax to Obama on the eve of the final troop decision.   

President Obama’s ordering a surge of 30,000 troops and pledging to start withdrawing U.S. forces by July 2011 did not end the skirmishing.   

General David Petraeus, the new Afghanistan commander, thinks time can be added to the clock if he shows progress.  “I don’t think you win this war,” Petraeus said privately.  “This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”   

Hovering over this debate is the possibility of another terrorist attack in the United States. The White House led a secret exercise showing how unprepared the government is if terrorists set off a nuclear bomb in an American city—which Obama told Woodward is at the top of the list of what he worries about all the time.   

Verbatim quotes from secret debates and White House strategy sessions—and firsthand accounts of the thoughts and concerns of the president, his war council and his generals—reveal a government in conflict, often consumed with nasty infighting and fundamental disputes.   

Woodward has discovered how the Obama White House really works, showing that even more tough decisions lie ahead for the cerebral and engaged president.   

Obama’s Wars offers the reader a stunning, you-are-there account of the president, his White House aides, military leaders, diplomats and intelligence chiefs in this time of turmoil and danger.

Book Reviews


Wow! Worst president ever! Unreal5 star

Bob did a great deal of due diligence uncovering this excuse of a man for president.55


Inside look5 star

This is a wonderful look at the inside relationship between the White House and the military. It shows a president who is clearly his own man, very much in control of a difficult situation.We are lucky to have this man in this place at this time.55

Charles Castle

Wow5 star

Thank You Bob Woodward for this Masterpiece. This is the perfect moment to raed this book55

the Glipper

I Recommend "Obama's Wars"5 star

I am amazed by the one-star ratings for this book; not due to the quality of the book, but hatred of President Obama. By way of disclosure, I am a Vietnam Era four year Navy Vet, consider myself moderately conservative, and not a fan of President Obama's policies. I just finished Reading "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward. It was interesting, mainly about the infighting that goes on during and behind the White House strategy meetings. I was surprised at how far the Military is willing to go to try and circumvent the President --- not a "Seven Days in May" scenario, but surprising nonetheless. It makes me think that that perhaps we need a stronger, more credible, President that can slap down the Military --- when needed --- before we get more Vietnams.55


Obama is so cool!5 star

He's the best president ever!55


Mount Rushmore5 star

Never have you witnessed a president work this hard and put in so many hours. His total focus has orbited around what was best for the country, despite being hounded daily. At the end of his second term I will submit the bill to have his image carved in the side on that mountain.55

Illinois Bob

Obama Wars4 star

I rate this book Four and one half stars. This book gives much in site in to the U. S. President Obama's challenges and frustrations in day to day administration life when dealing with high profile government and military managers. I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to study are government in action. I thought this was going to a negative Obama story, but it really turned admirable. I am glad I read it and thank the author and team for there detailed contribute.45

Cut And Print

Solid Journalism3 star

Woodward does a good job gathering views from the many different players in the Obama administration. He pits Obama's inexperienced quest for a unanimous way forward in Afghanistan against the hardened opinions of his military generals. I would hardly categorize this as a pro-Obama book. He appears handcuffed by his desire to create a considered, educated strategy to the point of being unable to act--- perhaps afraid to make poor decisions. In the end, the decisions the administration makes is an exercise in frustration-- because without a strategy that includes a Pakistani solution, a positive outcome in Afghanistan would seem unlikely. This realization comes as the war plows forward with small successes that likely won't amount to a military victory-- leaving the question -- if a win in Afghanistan is unattainable without a sustained 10-year American commitment to the region (politically unsustainable)-- exactly what are we fighting to achieve? On that count, the book is sobering. However Woodward's lynchpin is one single July 2010 interview with the President, in which Obama comes across- at times- as pointing his finger and making excuses. I don't feel like he got enough time with the president for this project. Somehow the book feels incomplete, and may have been best served to wait to include the administration's full review of the war due in December of 2010. This book is not an easy read. And the ridiculous and at times racist comments in the other reviews are not a fair representation-- or worthy of Woodward's impressive research.35


Worst president ever......and you people are stupid.1 star

The title says it all....oh and the idiot who says that all presidents are puppets unless they want to get shot like JFK is just that....an idiot. This country is getting worse every day. This author uses information and leaves other information out to paint the picture he wants you to see just like every other author and journalist no matter where their political views lie. So you people out there who want to care, stop letting other people tell you who's bad and who's good and figure it out for yourself.15

Nav 84

Obama's Wars5 star

Excellent study of all the significant players prosecuting a very difficult war in modern times.55

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