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Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War is a nonfiction book written by Robert M. Gates, a former U.S. Secretary of Defense. It was published in January 2014 by Alfred A. Knopf. The time period is from 2006 to 2011, and includes the George W. Bush administration (2006–2009), the Obama administration (2009–2011), the Afghan war, and the Iraq War.

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War
Duty Memoirs of a Secretary at War.jpg
AuthorRobert M. Gates
CountryUnited States
SubjectPresidency of George W. Bush, Presidency of Barack Obama, Afghan war, Iraq War
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf
Publication date
January 2014
Media typePrint
355.6092 B
LC ClassE897.4.G37 A3 2014

Narrated in first person point of view, this record of events characterizes Secretary Gates' personal interactions with the U.S. Congress, the Pentagon's management structure, some military bureaucrats and the White House staff under President Obama. This memoir is also the first to recount the Obama administration’s policy discussions and debates during Presidential cabinet meetings.[1][2][3][4][5]

Gates's commentaryEdit

As expressed in the book, disagreements with Obama's White House staff and the other aforementioned organizations elicit strong emotions and criticisms from Gates. For example, President Obama's White House staff is seen as an imperious entity, who, as a group, are seen as "micromanagers" that engaged in "operational meddling". Additionally, Vice President Joe Biden's performance is criticized. Yet, at the same time, Biden is personally held in high regard. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's is held in high regard professionally and personally. She in fact was usually in agreement with Gates on policy issues.

President Obama is judged favorably at first, and not so favorably by 2011. However, towards the end of the book, Mr. Gates states that Mr. Obama's decision to send a United States Navy SEALs team after Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan was "one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House". He also states that Obama's policy decisions pertaining to the "overall Afghan strategy" were correct. He also criticizes the George W. Bush administration's Afghan war, Iraq War, and Guantanamo Bay policies.[1][2][3][4]

Gates's backgroundEdit

Gates came to the Obama Administration as a "respected professional and veteran of decades at the center of American foreign policy". As a Republican, he also represented President Obama's policy of bipartisanism. Over time, however, his relationship with Obama and his staff devolved. Protracted policy disagreements with Vice President Joe Biden, Tom Donilon (National Security Advisor), and U.S. Army Lieutenant General Douglas E. Lute (Afghan policy) are additionally recounted.[1][2]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c Shanker, Tom (January 7, 2014). "Bipartisan Critic Turns His Gaze Toward ObamaIn His New Memoir Robert M. Gates". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Chayes, Sarah (January 12, 2014). "Robert Gates' failure of duty". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Woodward, Bob (January 7, 2014). "Robert Gates, former defense secretary, offers harsh critique of Obama's leadership in 'Duty'". The Washington Post. Washington D.C. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Cloud, David S. (January 7, 2014). "Ex-Defense Secretary Robert Gates has harsh words for Obama and Biden". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  5. ^ Altschuler, Glenn C (January 24, 2014). "'Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,' by Robert Gates". SF Gate - the online San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco: Hearst Communications, Inc. Retrieved February 18, 2014.