This is a guest article by author John Cherry.

For a number of reasons, I was reluctant to order this book by Donald Rumsfeld. First, I was still holding a grudge against Mr. Rumsfeld for his handling of the Iraq War, as he seemingly tried to win the war on the cheap, and later did not support the surge proposed by President Bush. Additionally, in my first book, “War on U.S.-How Policies and People are Destroying America,” I told the story of how “Rummy,” as President of the pharmaceutical giant company G.D. Searle, was able to get nutrasweet, the artificial sweetener, approved by the FDA. This was despite significant negative testimony about nutrasweet, also known as aspartame, from a number of health experts. Post approval comments and complaints about the product from the public appeared to confirm the medical testimony.

Another reason for my reluctance to purchase the book was the length of it at 730 actual reading pages. While I knew a little about Rumsfeld’s career previous to his position of Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush, I was unaware of his significant roles in previous Republican administrations. “Rummy” wrote about his entry into politics, winning a congressional seat in Illinois in 1962. He served four terms, even keeping his seat during the Democrat landslide in 1964, which left the GOP with only 140 seats.

While in Congress, “Rummy” became friends with Gerald Ford, who later considered him as a running mate for the 1976 election. Ford chose Nelson Rockefeller, whose brusque personality irritated a number of Republicans.

I learned more about Vietnam after reading about Rumsfeld’s description of his trip there during the war. Almost immediately, it was clear to him that communications with most South Vietnamese was limited. He also felt a sense of dependency on the U.S. by the South Vietnamese had developed. As with our other wars after Vietnam, the enemy had taken the strategy of attempting to wait us out, feeling that the U.S. public would lose its stomach for the battle. Romney also felt that President Johnson’s strategy of increasing troop levels only gave the enemy more targets.

During most of the Watergate years, Rumsfeld was U.S. Ambassador to NATO. Before Watergate, he was consulted by Nixon about his choice for the Vice-President in the 1968 election. It was interesting that Rumsfeld favored the more moderate candidates, such as Charles Percy of Illinois, and perhaps more interesting that Sen. Strom Thurmond (S.C) favored Ronald Reagan. Rumsfeld found Nixon’s choice of Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew to be a weak choice. Nixon did persuade Rumsfeld to take the position as head of the Office of Economic Opportunity. Although he did encounter some political friction in the office, he was forward thinking enough to give consideration to the use of school vouchers, an idea that is presently gaining popularity throughout the nation. Upon being chosen by Nixon to become Counselor to the President, Rumsfeld hired Dick Cheney, praising his hard work and attention to detail.

On the day after the Watergate break-in, Rumsfeld attended a White House meeting and stated “If any jackass across the street (at campaign headquarters) or here (in the White House) had anything to do with this, he should hung up by his thumbs today. We’d better not have anything to do with this. It will kill us.” After the election, Rumsfeld went to the NATO position, fulfilling his desire to serve in a foreign position. On the day Nixon left the Presidency, Rumsfeld arrived at the White House and new President Gerald Ford appointed him head of the transition team. Ongoing struggles between the outgoing administration and the new one were noted by Rumsfeld. Ford’s short list of V.P. choices included Rumsfeld, Nelson Rockefeller and George H.W. Bush. The choice of Rockefeller quickly became an unpopular one among Republicans, largely due to his apparent arrogant nature. A month after taking office, Ford pardoned Nixon, stunning most people around him, and helping to lead to defeat in the general election against Jimmy Carter.

Before divulging all of the interesting tidbits in the book, I will stop to say that I found the book refreshingly open and honest, and never boring despite its length. For those interested in the most interesting life of Donald Rumsfeld, I suggest that you purchase this book. As you will note, I left out the stories surrounding the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the details of the Iraq invasion and surge. Despite the length of this review, there is a wealth of other material that was left uncovered. Those who approach this book with an open mind will likely not be disappointed.

John Cherry is an author. He is probably best known for his two books analyzing the musical career of ex-Beatles member Paul McCartney. Check out Better Than Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career.

Be Sociable, Share!