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Book Review: Duty by Robert Gates


“I’ve said since I arrived here that Texas A&M is a unique American institution,” said Robert Gates, then 22nd president of the university. Often remembered at A&M as an “agent of change,” Gates was regarded highly for his vested interests in minority admissions, his creation of more than 400 faculty positions, and the launching of a multi-million dollar construction program. In 2006, however, right on the heels of his term in Aggieland, he found himself facing an offer which he now refers to as his call of duty. He returned to Washington politics, something he thought he’d left behind after almost a decade of serving in the CIA and National Security Council.

Pinot's Palette College StationDuty is Gates’ brutally honest memoir, a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of his experiences as Secretary of Defense for George W. Bush and Barack Obama during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He brings to the table an insider’s sense of historical context and shares his understanding of how and when the government works and fails. The book offers no metaphorical Band-Aids or sugar coating. Instead, it elaborates the details of politics within politics. He takes us backstage and introduces us to the inner sanctum of both presidential administrations; we discover the struggle of working with Congress, the bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and the modus operandi of two vastly different presidents. Duty sheds a bright light on the otherwise veiled critical players and world-shaping negotiations that typically happen behind closed doors.

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