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Publisher's Summary

From the former secretary of defense and author of the acclaimed number one best-selling memoir, Duty, a candid, sweeping examination of power, and how it has been exercised, for good and bad, by American presidents in the post-Cold War world.

Since the end of the Cold War, the global perception of the United States has progressively morphed from dominant international leader to disorganized entity. Robert Gates argues that this transformation is the result of the failure of political leaders to understand the complexity of American power, its expansiveness and its limitations. He makes clear that the successful exercise of power is not limited to the ability to coerce or demand submission, but must also encompass diplomacy, strategic communications, development assistance, intelligence, technology, and ideology. With forthright judgments of the performance of past presidents and their senior-most advisers, insightful ­firsthand knowledge, and compelling insider stories, Gates’s candid, sweeping examination of power in all its manifestations argues that US national security in the future will require abiding by the lessons of the past, reimagining our approach, and revitalizing nonmilitary instruments of power essential to success and security.

©2020 Robert M. Gates (P)2020 Random House Audio

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  • Ember Rose Baker
  • 11-07-2020

Thoughtful Evaluation by Someone in the Know

This is one of those must read books for anyone who gives a damn about America, its future, and our position in relation to the rest of the world. Gates presents a largely non-partisan view of choices made by the past several Presidents regarding the use or failure to use the many tools of influence, persuasion and power available to them. He lists many different kinds of power available, and gives examples of how they have or can be used to a nation's advantage. He expresses concern that in recent administrations, there has been a narrowing in the focus of our definition of power -- more reliance on military power and allowing other means of exercising power to atrophy. He notes how very different the problems we face today are vs. the problems we faced during the cold war. He suggests that our failure to adjust to the ways world has substantially changed have left us vulnerable. He describes how many of the key decisions and policies of Presidents since Reagan have brought us to our current reality. He describes what they did right and what they did wrong in their exercise of American power from a non-partisan perspective. Interesting, intelligent, thought-provoking book, well presented. An important work I wish all politicians, even all voters would read.

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  • Jeffy
  • 25-08-2020

Worth it

I am a fan of Bob Gates and this book does not disappoint. Very good content and narration.

Exercise of Power lays out recent developments of U.S. foreign policy in hot spots throughout the world. The author offers his own personal insights, often opinionated, as to how various military and non-military tools are used (or should be used) to best promote American interests. Thankfully, the book is not a tell-all book that is either bogged down in personalities or laced with gossip. It is an important book because if was written by a highly competent person who was "there" when many important decisions were made concerning U.S. foreign since the Carter presidency.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I only give it 4 stars because I am a tough grader. Still, if one is choosing a book, go for this one. It is worth it.

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  • Patricia George
  • 25-10-2020

Outstanding book

This was a great overview of a plethora of topics that plaque our Nation and provided amazing insights and lessons learned from past actions.

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  • Jerry
  • 29-07-2020

Tedious

Tedious, repetitive, smug, but probably correct. Points well taken but not that many are there

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  • Shaw
  • 07-07-2021

Great read!

A book written for every level of us. Every one who lent a hand in saving our Democracy is a patriot. Mr. Gates, thank you!

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  • Bryan Escobedo
  • 02-05-2021

American Priorities

Every American should read this book in these divisive times. Sec. Gates explains why we have to set our political preferences aside to gain the world view of our shared priorities and interests. His breakdown of the variety of "Instruments of Power" are a must-know for all voters seeking to make educated decisions on our foreign policy. After reading this book, I stand more firmly as an Independent who will always try to vote in America's long term interest regardless of the party.

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