The sudden rise of Donald Rumsfeld to political stardom has been one of the most unexpected developments of the last few years. When he was appointed secretary of defense, no one foresaw that he would become the most prominent and influential member of President George W. Bush’s cabinet.
But as the main architect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Rumsfeld moved into a central position as a policymaker. And through his televised briefings, he also moved into the spotlight, where he won the almost worshipful admiration of millions of Americans by the extraordinary directness, agility, and confident poise he showed in handling the press.
Drawing on her long acquaintance with Rumsfeld, a wealth of documents, and interviews with him and his family, friends, and colleagues, Midge Decter provides riveting accounts of the many milestones marking the journey Rumsfeld made from the suburbs of Chicago to the Pentagon. There is the insurgent young congressman; the head of the Office of Economic Opportunity; the ambassador to NATO; the White House chief of staff; the youngest ever secretary of defense; the successful corporate executive; and, finally, the spectacular second tour of duty as secretary of defense under Bush.
As this remarkable story unfolds, Decter brings her knowledge of American culture to bear on the question of why so many Americans have responded so fervently to Rumsfeld. In answering, she points to the values of the Midwest in which he was born and bred and the powerful appeal they still exert in spite of how old-fashioned they seem in certain circles.
Decter’s fascinating account of the life and career of Donald Rumsfeld, lavishly illustrated with photographs from the private collection of the Rumsfeld family, is, then, essential reading for anyone who wishes to become better acquainted with a key figure in public life — a figure whose rise to stardom sheds new light on the current condition of the American people.