Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M Gates - review by Michael Burleigh

Michael Burleigh

In His Defence

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

By

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Born in 1943 in Wichita, Kansas, Robert Gates studied history at William and Mary, Indiana and Georgetown before serving in the CIA for 26 years. Despite being dogged by allegations of involvement in the Iran–Contra affair, Gates became in 1991 the first entry-level employee to be appointed director of the agency. He retired two years later to become a university administrator but in 2006 was plucked from the presidency of Texas A&M University to become US secretary of defense, his chief recommendation being that he was very unlike his maverick predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld. Following the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Gates remained in post, serving until his retirement in the summer of 2011.

When it first appeared, Duty was filleted for headlines and whatever would help Gates promote overseas sales. Gates thought Vice President Biden ‘wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue’ but admired Hillary Clinton as a kindred spirit. His view of Congress, where he had to haggle

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