DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary at War
to be Released in January 2014
NEW YORK, September 16, 2013 – Robert M. Gates has written a book about his role as U.S. Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary at War will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in January 2014. The announcement was made today by Sonny Mehta, Chairman and Editor in Chief.
Mr. Gates is the only Secretary of Defense to serve under both a Republican and a Democratic president, and in DUTY, he provides an unsparing, full accounting of his tenure there. “This is a book about my more than four and a half years at war,” writes Gates in his introduction. “It is, of course, principally about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where initial victories in both countries were squandered by mistakes, shortsightedness, and conflict in the field as well as in Washington, leading to long, brutal campaigns to avert strategic defeat. It is about the war against al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, those responsible for our national tragedy on September 11, 2001.
“But this book is also about my political war with Congress each day I was in office,” Gates continues, “and the dramatic contrast between my public respect, bipartisanship, and calm, and my private frustration, disgust, and anger. There were also political wars with the White House, often with the White House staff, and occasionally with the presidents themselves…And finally, there was my bureaucratic war with the Department of Defense and the military services, aimed at transforming a department organized to plan for war into one that could wage war, changing the military forces we had into the military forces we needed to succeed.”
Most important, Gates tells a deeply personal story about his devotion to the American troops who served under him. “When I was asked in October 2006 if I would be willing to serve as secretary, I said that because all of those kids out there were doing their duty, I had no choice but to do mine. The troops were the reason I took the job, and they became the reason I stayed.
“As I look back, there is a parallel theme to my years at war: love. By that I mean the love—there is no other word for it— I came to feel for the troops, and the overwhelming sense of personal responsibility I developed for them. So much so that it would shape some of my most significant decisions and positions.”
What Gates discovered at the Defense Department, and what he details in the book, is that there were almost as many conflicts and complications within the U.S. government as there were on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. In preparing for the surge in troops in both wars, Gates analyzed risks, debated strategies, and forged shifting alliances with Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, with Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, and with military leaders including Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus.
The battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan were entangled with the fraught politics of neighboring Iran, Syria, Israel, and Pakistan. As Secretary, Gates’s commitment to win the wars and to protect America’s national security required careful navigation—both at home and abroad—and always with U. S. troops and their wellbeing at the forefront of his mind.
Prior to his roles as the Secretary of Defense, Gates served for over two decades in the Central Intelligence Agency, and under President George H.W. Bush, he was Director of the C.I.A. from 1991 to 1993. On Gates’s last day in office in 2011, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.
DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary at War will go on sale January 14 with a first printing of 200,000 copies and will be published simultaneously in hardcover, eBook, and as a Random House Audiobook. Gates will be making national media appearances and touring in connection with the publication of DUTY.
Alfred A. Knopf is the flagship imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
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