In This Review

Plan of Attack
Plan of Attack
By Bob Woodward
Simon & Schuster, 2004, 480 pp

Woodward, who has become the court chronicler of the Bush administration, provides in Plan of Attack a much better book than the first in the series, Bush at War. One reason is that the divisions at court have become sharper. Another is that Woodward was in as good a position as anybody else to address the two central puzzles about Bush's approach to Iraq: Did he realize, first, that he was going to war on the basis of dubious intelligence and, second, that running post-Saddam Iraq would be so difficult and dangerous? Addressing the first question, Woodward suggests that Bush never doubted that weapons of mass destruction were there; the best that can be said on the second is that the main players were so preoccupied with arguing the case for war that they failed to attend to the issues of occupation. Woodward's methods-relying on interviews and occasional media references, with little historical perspective or analysis-remain flawed. Nonetheless, the readiness of key players to talk freely with him at a time when the quality of their judgments had yet to be tested ensures an account that rings true throughout.