Review by Gary J. Bass, from Books of the Times:
"Rarely will a president enter office so thoroughly challenged on Day 1 as Mr. Obama. This dazzling and mordantly hilarious book is a history of how we got into this particular ditch. Mr. Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, drops the strict detachment of a daily reporter and lets rip, delivering a withering indictment of his longtime subject: President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, which he writes 'has left us less admired by our allies, less feared by our enemies and less capable of convincing the rest of the world that our economic and political model is worthy of emulation.' "
"After seven years covering Mr. Bush, Mr. Sanger, a shrewd and insightful strategic thinker, is left stunned by 'the president’s inexplicable resistance, until the final quarter of his term in office, to changing course.' Mr. Bush, he says, saw strategic change and negotiation as signs of weakness. This is a Nixon who never went to China."
"These unvarnished conclusions by Mr. Sanger will of course confirm the perfidy that Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly presume lies in the black hearts of Times reporters. But Mr. Sanger’s criticism, the product of extraordinarily diligent reporting, is too hawkish to be easily dismissed by conservatives. He believes in putting brute military power behind diplomacy, wants to win the war in Afghanistan and hates the thought of a nuclear-armed Iran and North Korea."
"Unlike other accounts of Mr. Bush’s foreign policy, 'The Inheritance” is not about Iraq but about the crushing opportunity costs paid elsewhere for that quagmire. With America bogged down in Iraq, a rising China has expanded its global influence. Mr. Sanger reports of the peril from unsecured nuclear arsenals: “As the situation in Iraq worsened, the post-9/11 efforts to create a multilayered defense against a domestic W.M.D. attack waned.' "
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