A State of Denial, in Haiku

Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward, via Wikipedia

The book “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward, the story of the George W. Bush presidency and the Iraq war, is one of the most remarkable histories I have ever read.

It is a work of great effort and meticulous, documented detail.  It was compiled from personal interviews enabled by the renown of its author, and from speeches.  Taken as a whole it constitutes an objective history of the bureaucratic and all too human interactions that determined, and are still affecting, the direction of our nation and world events.  Here, behind the scenes and in their own words is the story of the decision makers who grappled with the angst following 9/11, an event that defined a presidency.  It is the story of  how we came to wage the wrong war with the wrong opponent, and how our government wrapped itself in patriotism to deny its mistake.  It is the story of well-meaning powerful people, fatally flawed by hubris.

Official photograph portrait of former U.S. Pr...

George W. Bush, via Wikipedia

There is little here of Woodward himself.  The real creativity is in the editing because, as in “Obama’s Wars”, he lets the words of the principals themselves tell the story.  It is a public-office primer that, in my opinion, should be required reading for all future administrations.  And for voters too.  Truly, this book is essential to understanding that president and what happened in those 8 tumultuous and fateful years.

In my opinion, anyone who has George W. Bush’s recent book, Decision Points” on her book shelf and does not also have State of Denial beside it is in . . . denial.

A summary in haiku:

Jets shock the towers
The WMD were missing
Patriots in denial

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
This entry was posted in Accountability, Foreign Policy / War, Politics, Terrorism, War and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A State of Denial, in Haiku

  1. Jim says:

    Bush pre-determined
    Neo-cons rationalize well
    Cheney Rumsfeld criminals


  2. Jim says:

    Bush pre-determined
    Neo-cons rationalize
    Cheney Rumsfeld criminals


  3. Duane Graham says:


    Good stuff.



  4. Woodward is fabulous. I just wrote a review of the Obama’s War book and you and I have a very similar take on Woodward’s style. Great article.


    • Jim Wheeler says:


      My favorite all-time historian is William Manchester. I always admired his candor and the amazing quality of his work, but more than that, his amazing ability to put events in rational perspective. His two-volume history of America, “The Glory and the Dream,” from the 1932 to 1972 was published in “1973-1974”, and yet it reads true to fact even from the perspective of 2010! I was sorely disappointed when he died before finishing his trilogy on Churchill.

      Woodward is my new favorite, but he is different from Manchester. Woodward seems more impersonal. He stands outside events as a careful observer, an observer you can count on to tell the truth. He’s a very good writer, but I think his true genius is in editing very large amounts of material into a whole that reflects a true picture of history. And, there’s a big plus. He has effectively leveraged his own celebrity from Watergate days in order to get access to the movers and shakers. It’s a perfect journalistic mechanism, and history is the beneficiary.

      Thanks for your comment. Can I see your review online?



  5. Jim,

    I am really excited to check out Manchester. You make him sound extremely worth reading. I will make a point to get a copy of The Glory and The Dream as soon as possible.

    Your point about Woodward’s ability to edit large blocks of information into a coherent book is excellent. He manages to do this in everything he has written. For my money, The Brethren is his best work. Before I read the book, I viewed The Supreme Court as a shadowy group of distant people who made largely technical decisions that had little to do with everyday life. Reading it was like a bolt of lightning for me. The precision, wit and substance of that book gave me an entirely different impression not just of The Court, but of the meaning and significance of justice.

    Below is a link to my blog. The Woodward article is the most recent. I didn’t get too in depth into the book, but I felt like after reading it that I owed him some form of a thank you. I cover a lot of other different things in my blog (everything from history to surrealist film to existential views on basketball coaching). I would love to get your feedback on it.


    Looking forward to reading more of your work as well.



  6. Pingback: The Elusive Palace of Wisdom | Still Skeptical After All These Years

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