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All In: The Education of General David…

All In: The Education of General David Petraeus (2012)

by Paula Broadwell

Other authors: Vernon Loeb

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At this point it is really difficult to put aside the knowledge that the author was a lover of Petraeus but the account still reads to be largely true to character. Unfortunately we don't know how effective Petraeus may have been if he had remained in command in Afghanistan. And, even more unfortunate, his fall from grace at the hands of the author is a less than auspicious end for a pre-eminent military commander. Rumsfield and other transformative figures get short shrift here and it would have intriguing if Broadwell would have considered the general re-structuring of American military forces along with his COIN strategy.
  gmicksmith | Apr 8, 2013 |
In the wake of the affair scandal that cost General Patraeus his job as CIA Director and besmirched his distinguished military career I wanted to find out what his paramour had to say in this lengthy book she wrote on his career. General Patraeus should not be seen as less than a most honorable man who dedicated his life to this country through his distinguished military service. Yet it seems puzzling that he could risk it all for an affair that tarnished it so and put so many on a national spectacle that no one would care to be. For all his intelligence and savvy to climb his way through a military career to the very pinnacle he did not seem to take heed in what a woman’s unpredictability could do to jeopardize and indeed bring it all down.

The book itself was the result of an extending embedding of Paula Broadwell with the general as he served commanding troops in Afghanistan after a more or less successful command in Iraq halting a deterioration of the political landscape there. The book was extensive in its very detailed account of strategic and tactical operations in Afghanistan as the US military plodded from village to village in pursuit of infiltrated Taliban insurgents. I would estimate 80% of the content covers these day to day decisions and undertakings in the field that at times for me became tedious. She would then skip back in time to give snippets of General Patraeus’ career path to this top position in the Army. Limited personal information on the Patreaus family, his wife Holly and two children would enter into this narrative also. We learn of the Generals’ drive and determination as he takes on each significant challenge through his career as a military officer and completes these assignments for the most part successfully.

There will likely be a number of books to come on the scandal that brought his career in public service to an unfortunate conclusion. This book adds considerable background leading up to the tragic event and of course is unique that the key player, Paula Broadwell, is the messenger in the tale. There will be much dissecting and speculation as to why he would risk it all as he did. As he stated himself on the matter, he screwed up royally.

The real story of the wars we have been in for over ten years now is there also to see first hand. As we prepare to leave the scene in the next several years we will have to consider what we really accomplished in this considerable toll of lives and resources. The Taliban who will certainly still be in the picture after we are gone, the Afghan government which has its element of corruption, the Pakistan equation, and the cultural ramifications are all matters that will continue to play out and we will witness just what impact we had in it all. ( )
  knightlight777 | Dec 15, 2012 |
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That’s how Broadwell’s tome works (and yes, your correspondent read the whole thing — it wasn’t exactly the most fun twelve hours ever): like an anthology of press releases, talking points, and well-written e-mails, strung together with a vague semblance of order, indicative of — maybe, just maybe — some small affection of the biographer for her subject. Petraeus is quoted so much, he deserves to be credited as a co-author.

This book could have been titled The Agony and the Ecstasy of David Petraeus; it’s tricky to write a hagiography of someone who isn’t dead yet, but Broadwell manages. . . .

Broadwell’s book — noted for featuring intimate access to its subject — introduces readers to what might as well be the love child of Achilles and Billy Graham. Petraeus undoubtedly served his country at great personal cost, and saved the war in Iraq. Like all our troops, and especially those deployed to combat zones, he deserves gratitude and respect. But those interested in learning from his example should wait for a slightly fairer biography. This one — alas — came too soon.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paula Broadwellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Loeb, Vernonsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Traces the career and achievements of the military leader from his prestigious early years through his command in Afghanistan and nomination as director of the CIA, exploring his contributions to the war and counterterrorism efforts.

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