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Extended Audio Sample Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib Audiobook, by Seymour M. Hersh Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (557 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Seymour M. Hersh Narrator: Peter Friedman Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2004 ISBN: 9780060795344
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Since September 11, 2001, Seymour M. Hersh has riveted readers -- and outraged the Bush Administration -- with his stories in The New Yorker magazine, including his breakthrough pieces on the Abu Gharaib prison scandal. Now, in Chain of Command, he brings together this reporting, along with new revelations, to answer the critical question of the last three years: how did America get from the clear morning when hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to a divisive and dirty war in Iraq?

Hersh established himself at the forefront of investigative journalism thirty-five years ago when he broke the news of the massacre in My Lai, Vietnam, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. Ever since, he's challenged America's power elite by publishing the stories that others can't or won't tell.

In Chain of Command, Hersh takes an unflinching look behind the public story of President Bush's "war on terror" and into the lies and obsessions that led America into Iraq. With an introduction by The New Yorker's editor, David Remnick, Chain of Command is a devastating portrait of an Administration blinded by ideology and of a President whose decisions have made the world a more dangerous place for America.

Read by Peter Friedman

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Based on previously published articles and supplemented by fresh revelations, this book by Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Hersh, who writes for the New Yorker and has authored several books (The Dark Side of Camelot, etc.), charges the Bush administration with being propelled by ideology and hamstrung by incompetence in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas. One former intelligence official observes that the Bush administration staffers behaved ‘as if they were on a mission from God,’ while another laments, ‘The guys at the top are as ignorant as they could be.’ It’s no surprise, then, that the dissenters want to talk or that the Hersh, who has a reputation for integrity and enviable inside access, ferrets them out, assembling critiques from diverse, mostly unidentified sources at home and abroad. According to Hersh, the dire conditions that ‘enemy combatants’ suffered at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, presaged detainee abuses at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison. Hersh reveals the depravities purportedly occurring at Guantánamo and argues that Donald Rumsfeld wasn’t the only one responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib: ‘the President and Vice President had been in it, and with him, all the way.’ The book also covers some familiar ground, exploring pre-9/11 intelligence oversights and the administration’s misconception that Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Israel, Turkey and the Kurds would jump on the democracy bandwagon after the invasion of Iraq. But Hersh reserves his sharpest words for President Bush, suggesting the ‘terrifying possibility’ that ‘words have no meaning for this President beyond the immediate moment, and so he believes that his mere utterance of the phrases makes them real.’ Hersh’s critics may dismiss these explosive, less than objective conclusions. For others, however, this sobering book is the closest anyone without a security clearance will get to operatives in the inner sanctums of America’s intelligence, military, political and diplomatic worlds.

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Seymour Hersh has been a legendary investigative reporter since 1969 when he broke the My Lai story in Vietnam. His considerable skill and well-placed sources inside the government, intelligence community, military, and the diplomatic corps have allowed him access to a wide range of information unavailable to most reporters. Chain of Command is packed with specific details and thoughtful analysis of events since the attacks of September 11, 2001, including intelligence failures prior to 9/11; postwar planning regarding Afghanistan and Iraq; the corruption of the Saudi family; Pakistan's nuclear program, which spread nuclear technology via the black market (and admitted as such); influence peddling at the highest levels; and the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, among other topics. The book collects and elaborates on stories Hersh wrote for The New Yorker, and includes an introduction by the magazine's editor, David Remnick, on Hersh's background and his sources.

    Part of Hersh's skill lies in uncovering official reports that have been buried because government or military leaders find them too revealing or embarrassing. Chain of Command is filled with such stories, particularly regarding the manner in which sensitive intelligence was gathered and disseminated within the Bush administration. Hersh details how serious decisions were made in secret by a small handful of people, often based on selective information. Part of the problem was, and remains, a lack of human intelligence in critical parts of the Middle East, but it also has much to do with the considerable infighting within the administration by those trying to make intelligence fit preconceived conclusions. A prime example of this is the story about the files that surfaced allegedly detailing how Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger in order to build nuclear weapons. Though the files were soon proven to be forgeries, the Bush administration still used them as evidence against Saddam Hussein and therefore part of the reason for invading Iraq. In these pages, Hersh offers readers a clearer understanding of what has happened since September 11, and what we might expect in the future.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • Audio Publisher’s Association “Audie” Award
  • One of the 2004 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction
  • A 2005 Audie Award Finalist
  • An ALA Notable Book Finalist for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Intikhab | 2/2/2014

    " It is truly explosive. It unearths weaknesses in American spy agencies prior to September 11, 2001, attacks.Tons of information about American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Washington's relations with Musharraf and Saudi Royal family. Details and hidden information regarding torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons was interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Carrel | 1/23/2014

    " Seymour Hersh is the best friend American democracy has got. We all know the Bush (Cheney) Administration is corrupt. Hersh was on top of it before just about anybody else. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steven | 1/23/2014

    " Chilling look at the Bush Administration. Hersh doesn't hesitate to label Cheney a war criminal. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lori Michael | 1/21/2014

    " Very highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an in-depth look by one of the most worldly renowned Journalists. The book explores the functions/dysfunctions in government and the military that lead to the second Iraq War and the ugly Abu Gharib incident. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Whisner | 1/16/2014

    " This weaves together some of Hersh's reporting in the New Yorker with some additional reach. I had a hard time keeping track of all the players -- which guy was the security business entrepreneur who also advised the government on defense policy? -- but the overall message came through. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patty | 1/16/2014

    " Horribly depressing, gripping account of the madness of GW Bush and his Iraq War machinations. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tulara | 1/12/2014

    " It was so upsetting to read - I donated it to the library. The truth hurts. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mtbike40 | 11/13/2013

    " I found the information contained in this book interesting. I fully support our troops and what they are doing to combat our countries War of Terrorism. Some of the information here is disturbing. What happened to America doing the right thing? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kerry | 10/20/2013

    " This was one of the first critical books about the war that I read that made me viscerally angry. But I couldn't put it down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maryann | 8/31/2013

    " This book was stunning, riveting, and wholly disturbing. Nothing I didn't suspect, but the facts were indisputable. The ramifications and reverberations of these war criminals' behavior will come back to haunt us for many decades to come. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 7/15/2013

    " This guy has connections...made for a very alarming and interesting read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 5/31/2013

    " interesting insight into how the us government used selective intelligence to escalate the war on terror. excellent content, but a bit long. probably would have enjoyed reading his pieces in the new yorker. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marta Mellinger | 3/14/2013

    " tough. didn't have the courage to read it until now with the obama presidency.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristina | 12/5/2012

    " Excellent analysis of the events between 9/11 and the Iraqi War. Hersh is an excellent writer and presents his facts clearly. This was truly a scary book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 11/8/2012

    " Painstakingly researched account of the road to U.S.-sanctioned torture and human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tim | 8/8/2012

    " It's sad if this is true, and I believe it is, that all our soldiers died for the wrong reasons. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nathanael | 7/5/2012

    " My problem with Hersh is that I can't tell how much of what he says is true. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mfalco65 | 6/10/2012

    " Read this as part of a class called "Conflict Reporting." It was one of hte most compelling journalistic endeavors I had read since "Into the Wild." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Armando | 5/22/2012

    " This book gives you many insights into US foreign non-policy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 2/29/2012

    " If you want to know what our government and our military leadership is really doing in "the war on terror", read this book. You won't find this kind of stuff out by reading the papers or watching the news. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karl | 11/17/2011

    " Hersh makes clear that it wasn't just a few wayward soldiers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michaelbatte | 3/30/2011

    " Very informative - a must read for every American - insightful about what's going on in our government today & in recent past - difficult to follow at times "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tim | 2/25/2011

    " It's sad if this is true, and I believe it is, that all our soldiers died for the wrong reasons. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristina | 9/13/2010

    " Excellent analysis of the events between 9/11 and the Iraqi War. Hersh is an excellent writer and presents his facts clearly. This was truly a scary book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steven | 5/15/2010

    " Chilling look at the Bush Administration. Hersh doesn't hesitate to label Cheney a war criminal. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patty | 3/7/2010

    " Horribly depressing, gripping account of the madness of GW Bush and his Iraq War machinations. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michaelbatte | 8/4/2009

    " Very informative - a must read for every American - insightful about what's going on in our government today & in recent past - difficult to follow at times "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Armando | 1/4/2009

    " This book gives you many insights into US foreign non-policy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marta | 12/17/2008

    " tough. didn't have the courage to read it until now with the obama presidency.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mfalco65 | 12/17/2008

    " Read this as part of a class called "Conflict Reporting." It was one of hte most compelling journalistic endeavors I had read since "Into the Wild." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kerry | 12/8/2008

    " This was one of the first critical books about the war that I read that made me viscerally angry. But I couldn't put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 12/5/2008

    " This guy has connections...made for a very alarming and interesting read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mtbike40 | 11/12/2008

    " I found the information contained in this book interesting. I fully support our troops and what they are doing to combat our countries War of Terrorism. Some of the information here is disturbing. What happened to America doing the right thing? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 10/4/2008

    " Painstakingly researched account of the road to U.S.-sanctioned torture and human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karl | 8/22/2008

    " Hersh makes clear that it wasn't just a few wayward soldiers. "

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About the Author

Seymour M. Hersh has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, four George Polk Awards, and more than a dozen other prizes, many of them for his work at the New York Times. In 2004, he won a National Magazine Award for public interest for his pieces on intelligence and the Iraq war. He lives in Washington, D.C. Chain of Command is his eighth book.