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Rumsfeld - A Personal Portrait
Last uploaded : Saturday 20th Dec 2003 at 23:46
Contributed by : Carol Gould



Photograph of Defence Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld by Tech Sgt Andy Dunaway, Department of Defence


RUMSFELD: A Personal Portrait
by Midge Decter - Regan Books (Harper Collins) 2003

It takes a seasoned senior citizen to be able to write an unabashed tribute to an old friend without the exercise seeming adolescent hero-worship and when the friend happens to be a sex symbol.

The book opens with Decter?s recounting of an encounter with a wealthy, cultured and influential New York hostess who swoons at the mention of American Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, admitting she has his picture hanging in her dressing room. This encounter inspires Decter to delve further: she has known Rumsfeld for decades , having been involved with husband Norman Podhoretz in the formative years of the Project for the New American Century.

Recounting Rumsfeld?s early years as a dashing young Navy pilot and ambitious Congressman, she moves with ease over the extraordinary rise of this Princeton graduate and wrestling champion as he moves from the Nixon White House to NATO to an appointment by President Gerald Ford as the youngest-ever Defence Secretary, finally making his first fortune as a pharmaceutical executive.

Decter is fair in her appraisal of the Rumsfeld who has made many a four-star General quake. This is a relief, as I had feared this would be a volume devoted to the virtues of the neo-Conservative movement and to Rumsfeld as a total hero. Decter relates recent anxieties experienced by the Pentagon chief, and though the book was released before the ?post-war Iraq Pentagon disaster? had become the daily fodder of the world?s newspapers, gives an objective view of his shortcomings.

Rich with photographs of Rumsfeld dating from his childhood to his present reign as Defence chief and media star adored by thousands of women of all ages, this is an enjoyable and informative read, and for those of us in Europe a refreshing change from the endless European media barrage of Rummy-bashing and ridicule of America?s Cabinet.

As this review goes to press the United States is enjoying the euphoria of having captured Saddam Hussein. Various administration critics are already saying 'Rumsfeld had him in captivity for months and wheeled him out for Christmas and the 2004 elections.' It is difficult to discern what the Rumsfeld legacy will be; in a recent television interview with former Congressman John Kasich the Defence Secretray was asked about his legacy and he replied, 'I'm too YOUNG to have a legacy!'

In the meantime, Decter's book is a primer on the 71-year-old's story so far.

Photograph usage courtesy of the Department of Defense:


Carol Gould, Editor in Chief of Current Viewpointand Jewish Comment, is a documentary producer and former ITV network Drama executive. Her book, 'SPITFIRE GIRLS,' about the women pilots of WWII, is available in hardback from Black Ace Books (Scotland.)


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