RaveThe Washington PostWhen the next president of the United States looks for nonmilitary means to achieve objectives abroad and to begin restoring America’s standing in the world, he would do well to read Robert M. Gates’s important new book ... Gates rightly focuses on the uses and misuses of American power in the seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ... He gives the reader a brief tutorial on exactly what the term includes ... a cornucopia of alternative means that Gates successfully avoids calling soft power; he spends the balance of the book unpacking them in specific case studies where they sometimes worked and more frequently weren’t deployed. He argues persuasively that they were our most effective weapons during the Cold War ... Gates skims over Obama\'s success ... In a serious omission, Gates ignores climate change in any discussion of strategic priorities ... Nonetheless, Gates’s policy and strategic advice to future decision-makers more than outweighs its blemishes and omissions. He skillfully blends the knowledge and discipline of a scholar with the hard-earned experience of a practitioner to produce a well-organized and superbly written book to lead America forward into a very different and challenging new world, and it is here that Gates’s admonitions are most compelling.
RaveThe Washington Post... superb ... Widmer demonstrates a deft ability to relate Lincoln’s circumstances to those of others in the nation’s past ... As Lincoln had plotted his route strategically, so too does Widmer with his writing; his creative structure and new research offer compelling diversions about some of the people and history the president-elect encountered. Included are past and future presidents, as well as the slaughterhouses of Cincinnati and the nauseating corruption of Albany. Every place had someone or something distinctive, and Widmer invariably finds it ... Widmer has written a revelatory work about an important but underappreciated episode ... His book could also be on the verge—of becoming a Lincoln classic.