Bob Woodward ‘Plan of Attack’ (book review)

Bob Woodward 'Plan of Attack'

Cover for Bob Woodward ‘Plan of Attack’.

Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack is a must-read for students of government, and is an invaluable source of information on how the Iraq war was formulated and put into action. Through interviews with all of the principals (including a three and a half hour interview with George W. Bush), Woodward constructs an intimate portrayal of life in the White House at a time of insecurity and war. It is fascinating to read of internal disputes between the Defense and State Departments, the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency, but readers are also able to put a human face on the principles, learning from their recollections and from unseemly verbal gaffes.

The path to war is explored in its entirety, from dinners at Bush’s Crawford ranch to policy papers, from C.I.A. covert operations to diplomatic phone calls. Woodward also adds a unique slant, using his firm pulse on the media to make further sense of this period of history. The casual reader may find fault with Woodward’s colloquial newspeak, or his tendency to use profanity for shock value, but Woodward has constructed a well-organized and highly readable tome. Interestingly enough, the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign has recommended Plan of Attack, despite condemnation in the conservative press for its often unflattering portrayals of the Bush Cabinet.

Ultimately, though, what the reader takes out of Boob Woodward’s Plan of Attack depends on personal politics and whether or not one believes war in Iraq was necessary.

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(This review was originally written for the independent University of Washington publication Right Turn. Published in May of 2004).

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