Illuminating [and] insightful . . . A significant work of American history.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Pick up this engaging book for its insights into Cheney and Powell, but take away the two visions for American leadership they embodied." The New York Times Book Review
“In his excellent recounting of the rise and fall of the friendship of two major figures in the two Bush presidencies, James Mann tells, in a vivid and compelling way, the story of the American response to twenty years of earthshaking global events: the end of the Cold War, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and especially the two wars against Saddam Hussein.” Michael Mandelbaum, author of The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth
“The Great Rift cements James Mann’s reputation as an essential historian of U.S. foreign policy in modern times. This riveting character study shows how two of the Bush family’s foremost advisers went from allies to adversariesand what their split tells us about the Republican party in the age of Trump. Mann has done that rare thing: he has captured history in motion.” David Greenberg, author of Republic of Spin and Nixon’s Shadow
“In James Mann’s powerful new book, The Great Rift, Iraq bookends the fraught and consequential relationship between Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. Deftly using their cooperation and competition as his lens, Mann provides a trenchant, engrossing, and ultimately sad chronicle of the rise and fall of American global leadership after the Cold War.” Timothy Naftali, author of George H. W. Bush and founding director of the federal Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
“More than an account of an intimate Washington partnership that degenerated into mutual loathing, this is a study of the limits of unswerving conviction on the one hand, and anti-conceptual pragmatism on the other. As such, it is a warning for the future no less than an account of the past.” Eliot A. Cohen, former counselor of the Department of State and author of The Big Stick and Supreme Command
“James Mann’s gripping account of the rise and fall of Dick Cheney and Colin Powell is almost Shakespearean in its pitch-perfect portrayal of two close friends turned bitter foes, whose ambition and internecine warfare played a key role in America’s disastrous involvement in the war in Iraq, with grievous effects that continue to this day.” Lynne Olson, bestselling author of Madame Fourcade’s Secret War and Citizens of London
“In this brisk, penetrating narrative, James Mann offers a thoroughly original way of understanding critical events at the highest levels of government over the last three decades. The Great Rift is outstanding.” Jonathan Alter, author of The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope and The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies
A useful review of the hard-right shift of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, delivered via a comparative study of two of the seminal players.
As Mann (George W. Bush, 2015, etc.) shows in this illuminating dual biography and history lesson, early on in their careers, Colin Powell and Dick Cheney both hitched their stars to top government insiders who helped propel them to the highest levels of power. Powell, the amiable, popular soldier, was an aide to both Frank Carlucci and Casper Weinberger at the Defense Department and National Security Council—before becoming national security adviser in 1987. Cheney, "the quiet conservative," became Donald Rumsfeld's aide during Gerald Ford's brief administration before assuming the role of White House chief of staff. Both men, notes the author, achieved stellar appointments during George H.W. Bush's administration and led a "good war" that expelled Iraq from Kuwait while agreeing, prudently, not to extend the war into Baghdad. Yet it was in George W. Bush's administration that the two—Cheney as VP, Powell as secretary of state—began to diverge in thinking and action. Cheney's "blueprint" was essentially to keep the U.S. as the world's dominant military superpower after the collapse of the Soviet Union and actively "block" any hostile rival. Powell maintained a centrist position and urged caution and restraint, especially regarding another war with Iraq. Cheney pushed for aggressive "antiterrorist measures," including the controversial and ultimately self-defeating "black sites" and "enhanced interrogation" measures, while Powell emphasized working with U.S. allies. Both men would develop their own "tribes" of followers. Yet, tragically, it was Powell who became the poster child for the invasion of Iraq, duped by U.S. intelligence into making a false casus belli of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. The friendship was over, and the split caused deep rifts in the country at large. Still, as Mann demonstrates thoroughly in his insightful dissection of their relationship, Powell was as complicit and eager a participant in the nation's disastrous ventures as Cheney.
A significant work of American history.