Limited Hangout

Donald Rumsfeld has produced, four years after his departure from government, a memoir of no stylistic distinction.  It contains few if any interesting revelations, save, perhaps, those relating to President Nixon’s choice of vice presidents.  For what it does contain, it is at least twice as long as it should be.  There is a great deal of not particularly subtle score-settling, the principal targets of which are Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, George H.W. Bush, and Richard Armitage.  The superficial reader will find the book to be a fairly interesting narrative by an important and more than ordinarily outspoken actor who both gave and received the usual blows of politics.  More informed readers will view it as, at best, a “modified, limited hangout,” which is at important points an exercise in mendacious concealment and occasional outright lying, and which betrays an attitude that seriously threatens the American constitutional order and whatever prospects exist for order among nations.

One will learn nothing here of the writer’s intellectual formation.  Donald Rumsfeld is the self-confident, industrious, and ambitious son of a realtor in the Chicago suburbs.  He says scarcely anything of his passage through Princeton with the aid of an NROTC scholarship.  Unlike his prep-school-educated contemporaries, he was insufficiently prepared to be excused from required courses.  He led the wrestling...

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