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There Will Be Blood…..

All In: The Education of General David Petraeus by Paula Broadwell, with Vernon Loeb

The official biography of CIA Director General David Petraeus, by Harvard researcher Paula Broadwell, has long been anticipated in the .mil/COIN/NatSec/Foreign Policy communities and blogosphere.  I can hear pencils scrawling furiously away in the margins even as I type this post. 🙂

Broadwell,  herself a reserve Army officer, West Pointer, Harvard grad, doctoral student at King’s College War Studies Department , and by all accounts, an impressive up and coming individual,  had very extensive access to her subject – allegedly, far more than the official Army historian assigned to General Petraeus’ last command. Given the subject is General Petraeus, the precarious state of American policy in Afghanistan and 2012 as a circus of political excess, All In will be one of the few “must read” books this year.

And, I must commend Miss Mrs. Broadwell highly here, she will be donating 20 % of her net proceeds to help wounded veterans.

That said, in terms of reaction to this book, there will be blood.

Reviews of All In will afford the opportunity to tear the scabs off of the well-worn COINdinista/COINtra debate and rub salt in the exposed wounds – I for one am especially looking forward to reading future back to back reviews by Carl Prine and Thomas Ricks and Abu Muqawama vs. Colonel Gian Gentile. In the mainstream press, the opportunity for newspaper columnists to get in gratuitous potshots against figures like Presidents Bush and Obama, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Robert Gates, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Stan McChrystal and numerous others or grind partisan axes will be too tempting to resist, regardless of how relevant these remarks are to Broadwell’s biography of Petraeus. The looming specter of draconian cuts to defense budgets will also add to the rancor of the discussion of the book within the defense community.

Somewhere in that debate will be the book Broadwell actually wrote and within the book, perhaps, we will come to see David Petraeus. Or not.

Get your popcorn ready!

Right now, I am deep into reading the superb George Kennan biography by eminent diplomatic historian John Lewis Gaddis but All In is definitely next on my list.

And it will be reviewed.

11 Responses to “There Will Be Blood…..”

  1. Chris Says:

    Things I have learned from this book already, do not search for “All in” on Amazon.co.uk on your work computer. Turns out that Amazon sells adult content, which ranks a lot higher than this book in their search results in the British market.

  2. Madhu Says:

    Wow, she’s really pretty. I had a blouse like that once…. loved it. Went with many suit beautifully.
    Hey, it’s not sexist for a woman to comment on another woman’s looks! Or maybe it is? Oh well, I don’t mean to be sexist.
    On Kennan, I am reading American Diplomacy (the updated set of 1950s lectures). He writes so, well, there’s that word beautifully again. Apparently, he visited Grinnell College in the 80s a few years before I attended the school (for two years and then I transferred. It was a very unhappy experience for me for a variety of reasons and you know what? I would not have known who he was then or cared. I seemed to live in a bubble of 80s pop and book culture back then. The whole MAD thing meant I ignored politics, weirdly enough, because it scared me.)
    I ought to read more diplomatic histories. Instinctively, I seem to have created my own hugely imperfect blog version of a diplomatic history regarding 90s and early 2000s diplomacy btwn the US, India, and Pakistan. History Commons does that and so does the wikipedia ethos.
    George Soros apparently visited Grinnell College back then, too, but I am not sure. That place used to have the mother of all endowments….

  3. Madhu Says:

    With the help of a significant private grant, the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison was created to support other innovative college-in-prison programs throughout the country. Wesleyan University in Connecticut and Grinnell College in Iowa have now established programs, and the Consortium plans to establish programs in as many as ten more states within the next five years

    Huh, there is something called the soros files. Isn’t the internet a wonder? I have so many good Grinnell stories and the almost impossible cultural disconnect between an impossibly middle-class immigrant and the upper middle class progressive nobless oblige ethos that pervades such a school. Some administrator managed to really offend my nice immigrant parents when I left. Don’t know how he managed to do that, but he really pissed off two gentle people. How did that happen?

  4. Dave Schuler Says:

    Sic transit, etc.  Zenpundit has now become a fashion blog! 😉

  5. Lexington Green Says:

    Looks like it is Mrs. Broadwell, not Miss.  


    I think Gen. Petraeus would have found it easy to spend more time with her than with the official historian, for some reason.   

  6. zen Says:

    Hey all,

    No, Broadwell is not to be confused with Gertrude Stein. Fashion though, as Dave correctly noted with amusement, is beyond me.
    Doc Madhu, just FYI, I will be reviewing the Kennan and Petraeus books for Pragati magazine. Gaddis book first. I can rec some good diplo history titles for you if you like. I also have a story about Grinnell I will tell you someday.

    Thanks Lex! Fixed!

  7. Lexington Green Says:

    Mrs. Broadwell’s personal history is amazing.

  8. Joseph Fouche Says:

    Judging by the Petraeus reading list, the good General is a big fan of humor.

  9. Lexington Green Says:

    Citizen Fouche, you are a man of subtlety.  I fail to see the humor.  Please enlighten me.

  10. Madhu Says:

    Doc Madhu, just FYI, I will be reviewing the Kennan and Petraeus books for Pragati magazine. Gaddis book first. I can rec some good diplo history titles for you if you like. I also have a story about Grinnell I will tell you someday.
    Yes please, on the good diplo history (when you’ve got more time, obviously.)
    I like what I’ve read of Pragati. I know I come across as very upset with NATO (the US, the UK, etc.) on the subject of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but, really, I’m also upset with Indian diplomacy. I’ve watched these twisted relationships from afar my entire life and watched as a fiction grew up within the US regarding South Asia. I think the Indians could have done a better job educating people on the non-stop lies told, well-meaning or not. What I like about Pragati is that I sense the younger generation is not reflexively anti-American or anti-West and understand that for the sake of their own people they must help others understand the Indian narrative and how it differs from the, to date, United States version.
    I’d love to hear the Grinnell story sometime. I really held a grudge against that institution for many years even as I was a progressive in the 90s (surprised you all with that, didn’t I?) My first experience of the latte liberal culture and its fakes. DC and think tanks seem to be nothing but latte liberals. Look how the poor live in DC? What does that tell you about DC’s committed liberals? Fakey fake fakes.

  11. Madhu Says:

    Er, regarding Lexington Green’s point: I didn’t mean to suggest Paula Broadwell wasn’t perfectly well qualified to write the book. She has a wonderful vitae but I just responded to her picture because, I dunno, I’ve been tired of my usual blogging and wanted to talk about lighter fare. I meant nothing negative toward her or her book.

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