Known and Unknown: A Memoir.

Author:Cirafici, John
Position:Book review

Known and Unknown: A Memoir. By Donald Rumsfeld. New York: Sentinel, 2011. Photographs. Illustrations. Maps. Notes. Index. Pp. 815. $36.00 ISBN 978-1-59523-067-6

Secretary of Defense (SecDef) Rumsfeld left the Bush Administration in 2006 and practically disappeared from sight until the publication of this memoir, a substantial and clearly written work that in all likelihood will be viewed, above all else, as an apologia. Beyond that, it is a personal account of his incredible track record in government and in the private sector.

His government service spanned four decades and encompassed shaping events in American domestic and foreign policy. He was a four-term congressman; senior advisor to several US presidents; ambassador to NATO; twice SecDef; special ambassador to the Middle East in the aftermath of the Beirut bombing; presidential chief of staff; ambassador on the Laws of the Sea Treaty; and chairman of the Cost of Living Council, Commission to Assess U.S. National Security Space Management and Organization, and the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission. He was a respected and feared Republican power broker and was considered several times as a vice presidential candidate. Outside of government, he was a successful CEO and chairman of several corporations.

Rumsfeld portrays himself as a hard-driven, highly focused, and intelligent leader, with a politically and fiscally conservative vision for government and national security. If his vignettes are accurate, he was also a fair-minded and thoughtful task master. He cites his decision, as SecDef, to continue USAF General Brown as JCS Chairman after some of his comments displeased President Ford. One immediately thinks of the opposite outcome when SecDef Cheney fired Air Force Chief of Staff General Dugan for his comments. Rumsfeld also discusses his successful struggle with opposing Army brass to have the M-1 tank selected for production. He was a proponent of the B-1 bomber and the ballistic-missile-defense system (for which he was a key player in having the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty repealed), an outspoken opponent of detente, and tireless in his effort to reform the Pentagon's way of doing business.

His six years as SecDef under President George W. Bush are of particular interest and consume two thirds of the book examining his involvement in military transformation, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and the global war on terrorism (GWOT). Rumsfeld...

To continue reading