Known and Unknown by Donald Rumsfeld

45%

19 Critic Reviews

It's wearisome always being right, particularly when so many others are so wrong, so often — at least that's the impression a reader is most likely to draw from Rumsfeld's exhaustive, exasperating but vigorously written memoir, "Known and Unknown."
-LA Times

Synopsis

Discover the enhanced e-book edition of Known and Unknown offering an unprecedented reading experience for a memoir by a major public figure. For web-connected readers, it features more than 500 links to never-before-available original documents from Donald Rumsfeld's extensive personal archive. It includes State Department cables, correspondence, and memoranda on topics such as Vietnam, Watergate, the days following 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much more. Available in ePub and Adobe Reader.

Like Donald Rumsfeld, Known and Unknown pulls no punches.

With the same directness that defined his career in public service, Rumsfeld's memoir is filled with previously undisclosed details and insights about the Bush administration, 9/11, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also features Rumsfeld's unique and often surprising observations on eight decades of history: his experiences growing up during the Depression and World War II, his time as a Naval aviator; his service in Congress starting at age 30; his cabinet level positions in the Nixon and Ford White Houses; his assignments in the Reagan administration; and his years as a successful business executive in the private sector.

Rumsfeld addresses the challenges and controversies of his illustrious career, from the unseating of the entrenched House Republican leader in 1965, to helping the Ford administration steer the country away from Watergate and Vietnam, to bruising battles over transforming the military for the 21st century, to the war in Iraq, to confronting abuse at Abu Ghraib and allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Along the way, he offers his plainspoken, first-hand views and often humorous and surprising anecdotes about some of the world's best known figures, from Margaret Thatcher to Saddam Hussein, from Henry Kissinger to Colin Powell, from Elvis Presley to Dick Cheney, and each American president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush.

Rumsfeld relies not only on his memory but also on previously unreleased and recently declassified documents. Thousands of pages of documents not yet seen by the public will be made available on an accompanying website.

Known and Unknown delivers both a fascinating narrative for today's readers and an unprecedented resource for tomorrow's historians.

Proceeds from the sales of Known and Unknown will go to the veterans charities supported by the Rumsfeld Foundation.

 

About Donald Rumsfeld

See more books from this Author
DONALD RUMSFELD currently chairs the Rumsfeld Foundation, which supports leadership and public service at home and the growth of free political and free economic systems abroad, as well as charities that benefit the men and women of the U.S. armed forces and their families.
 
Published February 8, 2011 by Sentinel. 883 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Feb 27 2011
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Critic reviews for Known and Unknown
All: 19 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 12

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by MICHIKO KAKUTANI on Feb 03 2011

Although most of this book is written in flat-footed prose (largely devoid of colorful Rummyisms), this former Secretary of Defense tends to be tart — even snide — in his depictions of colleagues,...

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Philippe Sands on Mar 05 2011

...we cannot know whether the conversation he shares is accurate or complete, and therein lies this book's greatest problem. The reputation for competence and rigour is by now so shot to bits that we don't know what is fact and what is unfact.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Justin Webb on Feb 13 2011

We needed more insight, more sense of detachment, for this book to match the achievements of its author. A mere reminder of why those press conferences were fun to watch is hardly enough.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Kenneth Allard on Feb 04 2016

But whatever mistakes Mr. Rumsfeld may have committed during a long and distinguished career, this remarkable memoir is not among them.

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WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by ROBERT SCALES on Feb 08 2011

The book is crisply written, blending narrative detail with personal judgment and reflection. Mr. Rumsfeld begins by giving us a fine, if compressed, account of his life before becoming George W. Bush's defense secretary in 2001.

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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Andrew Bacevich on Feb 11 2011

Known and Unknown is tendentious rather than instructive. The reader who wades in should expect a long, hard slog, with little likelihood of emerging on the far side appreciably enlightened.

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The Economist

Excellent
Reviewed by The Economist on Feb 17 2011

People like Mr Rumsfeld don't write books for the money; they want to justify themselves. ..Beyond the failure to admit any guilt, which will disappoint only those who were expecting the improbable, this book is interesting and even enjoyable.

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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Tim Rutten on Feb 08 2011

It's wearisome always being right, particularly when so many others are so wrong, so often — at least that's the impression a reader is most likely to draw from Rumsfeld's exhaustive, exasperating but vigorously written memoir, "Known and Unknown."

Read Full Review of Known and Unknown | See more reviews from LA Times

The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Gwen Ifill on Feb 08 2011

But hand-wring he does, in repeated blasts of Rumsfeldian score-settling that come off as a cross between setting the record straight and doggedly knocking enemies off pedestals.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Toby Harnden on Feb 11 2011

But this is a clearly written work that attempts to cut through a number of myths to give a measured account of how things happened and why. It will be of value to historians long after humdrum memoirs of the period have been forgotten.

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Huffington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Marcus Baram on May 25 2011

But for the most part, Rumsfeld remains defiantly self-righteous about his tenure as Bush's Defense Secretary -- defending his often-criticized decisions and blaming almost everyone else for mistakes that were made...

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San Francisco Chronicle

Below average
Reviewed by William Howell on Feb 20 2011

Over the course of his career, Donald Rumsfeld has been accused of numerous crimes and blunders. To the list can now be added one more: writing an inexcusably banal and vainglorious memoir.

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Open Letters Monthly

Below average
Reviewed by Greg Waldmann on Jan 11 2013

...cowardly new memoir...He refrains from criticizing Reagan harshly (you don’t do that to your party’s sacred cows)...

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The Daily Beast

Above average
Reviewed by Howard Kurtz on Feb 03 2011

While the bulk of Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir deals with weighty matters of war and peace, there are offbeat moments in Known and Unknown that provide glimpses of the Chicago native who twice ran the Pentagon.

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The Daily Beast

Below average
Reviewed by Howard Kurtz on Feb 02 2011

...it contains few surprises and, after so many years of divisive debate, is unlikely to change many minds.

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Independent.ie

Excellent
Reviewed by Independent House on Feb 19 2011

...despite Rumsfeld's cranky and dismissive public image, there are glimpses in the book of a more complex man, a kind-hearted husband who is devoted to his wife, Joyce, and a father deeply affected by the drug addiction of two of his grown children.

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The New Republic

Below average
Reviewed by Max Boot on Mar 17 2011

It is a fate for which he can blame no one but himself—although I would not be surprised to hear him in a few years’ time attributing his book’s shortcomings to his ghostwriters and his researchers.

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Book Forum

Below average
Reviewed by Eric Martin on Mar 08 2011

Boring aside, is the essay persuasive? Sometimes. He is persuasive about his passion for public service and the troops...But like many writers of persuasive essays before him, in the end he is intent only on victory and absolutely cannot be trusted.

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Marine Corps Gazette

Good
on Feb 04 2016

For anyone wanting a review and analysis of many of the more pivotal events in U.S. history throughout the past 60 years, it would be found in former Secretary of Defense (SecDef) Donald H. Rumsfeld’s recently released book, Known and Unknown.

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Reader Rating for Known and Unknown
71%

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