Barack Obama, Afghanistan, and a Book That Mattered

The New York Times today has a long piece on Barack Obama’s agonizing three month deliberative process that brought him, at the end, to order a surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. The piece reveals that there was a book that Obama and his staff read that appears to have influenced them (and no, for all you right-wingers out there, it was not Das Kapital ):

Mr. Obama had read “Lessons in Disaster,” Gordon M. Goldstein’s book on the Vietnam War. The book had become a must read in the West Wing after Mr. Emanuel had dinner over the summer at the house of another deputy national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, and wandered into his library to ask what he should be reading. Among the conclusions that Mr. Donilon and the White House team drew from the book was that both President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson failed to question the underlying assumption about monolithic Communism and the domino theory — clearly driving the Obama advisers to rethink the nature of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Here’s the book at Amazon.

And see here for some more books that have influenced Obama.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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