From one of the only senior national security officials to serve under Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump, a riveting diplomatic memoir of America at war, and an exclusive insider's look at how successive presidents made life-and-death decisions under pressure. As commanders-in-chief, modern American presidents have obtained nearly unchecked powers of awesome reach and consequence. Yet, the exercise of this power is rarely seen up close across multiple administrations, especially under three very different presidents. Brett McGurk was often in the room as these most fateful decision were made, and he deploys his insights as a vital player across two decades of American history to pull back the curtain. Through vivid stories from his time in Iraq early in the war and then dealing with its aftermath over fifteen years--from senior posts at the White House and State Department, through diplomacy around the world, including hostage negotiations, building coalitions, and raising armies, to battlefields with American troops as they experiment with new modes of warfare--McGurk offers a unique, behind-the-scenes account of how three presidents made and executed war-and-peace decisions in real-time. President Bush transforms his presidency over its last two years, becoming the most hands-on commander-in-chief since FDR. Obama demands rigorous process but then must rapidly develop a new way to fight when confronted with the rise of ISIS. Trump throws out the playbook, delegating entirely to subordinates until he suddenly intervenes and overrules them, leaving allies bewildered as adversaries take advantage of American uncertainty. From their successes and failures, McGurk extracts urgent lessons about leadership and America's role in the world. He offers an urgent warning about failure to carefully align ends with means and shines a light on the deeply personal nature of policy-making and diplomacy. As Washington confronts increasingly complex challenges from terrorism, to pandemics, climate change, and great power rivalries, these lessons have never been more vital. In page-turning prose, Command lifts the mystique of the highest-stakes deliberations, illuminating the fateful choices made by a few that profoundly affect us all and will shape the future of our world. From the Oval Office to the battlefields of the Middle East, across the table from hostile powers, to the gilded palaces of aging kings and upstart princes, to centuries-old ministries across Europe, Command is a deeply personal account of an epochal period in American and world history.
Brett McGurk served as a top national security advisor under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. He has been involved in U.S. military strategy, diplomacy, and foreign policy for nearly two decades, most recently as Obama and Trump's envoy leading the campaign to defeat ISIS. He served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court from 2001 to 2002, and was at the Court on the morning of 9/11, a day that changed history and his life. McGurk is currently the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute where he teaches and lectures on presidential decision-making in wartime.