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Extended Audio Sample Known and Unknown: A Memoir, by Donald Rumsfeld Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (511 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Donald Rumsfeld Narrator: Donald Rumsfeld Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9781101484470
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Like Donald Rumsfeld, Known and Unknown pulls no punches.

With the same directness that defined his career in public service, Rumsfeld’s memoir is filled with previously undisclosed details and insights about the Bush administration, 9/11, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also features Rumsfeld’s unique and often surprising observations on eight decades of history: his experiences growing up during the Depression and World War II, his time as a Naval aviator; his service in Congress starting at age thirty; his cabinet level positions in the Nixon and Ford White Houses; his assignments in the Reagan administration; and his years as a successful business executive in the private sector.

Rumsfeld addresses the challenges and controversies of his illustrious career, from the unseating of the entrenched House Republican leader in 1965, to helping the Ford administration steer the country away from Watergate and Vietnam, to bruising battles over transforming the military for the twenty-first century, to the war in Iraq, to confronting abuse at Abu Ghraib and allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Along the way, he offers his plainspoken, first-hand views and often humorous and surprising anecdotes about some of the world’s best-known figures, from Margaret Thatcher to Saddam Hussein, from Henry Kissinger to Colin Powell, from Elvis Presley to Dick Cheney, and each American president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush.

Rumsfeld relies not only on his memory but also on previously unreleased and recently declassified documents. Thousands of pages of documents not yet seen by the public will be made available on an accompanying website.

Known and Unknown delivers both a fascinating narrative for today’s readers and an unprecedented resource for tomorrow’s historians.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • 'Dismissive' is a word often used to describe Rumsfeld, but 'dismissive' perfectly describes his critics, who are unwilling or unable to re-examine their own assumptions in the light of new or overlooked information and fresh perspective provided by Rumsfeld, in his exceedingly well-documented work. With its hundreds of annotations and supplementary documents, Known and Unknown is a significant contribution to the historical record. It is, as Rumsfeld once noted about similar memoirs, 'only from one perspective,' but it's a unique and valuable perspective, a serious work that deserves consideration by any serious student of recent history. Jamie McIntyre (former CNN Pentagon correspondent)/Line of Departure/2/10/2011
  • It is a terrific book...Let me tell you something, it is absolutely fascinating. He's very blunt in talking about people and issues and so forth, you'll really enjoy it, in my humble opinion. Mark Levin (interview transcript)/2/10/2011
  • I would heartily recommend it. I don't think anybody could go buy a book written by anybody who has been more intimately involved, closer to power, for as many years, has been through as much, has known all of the power players as you have. It is amazing. Rush Limbaugh (interview transcript)/2/8/2001
  • Readers might be appreciative to find themselves in possession of a serious memoir, more in keeping with the older Washington tradition of Dean Acheson or Henry Kissinger. As might the historians. Kimberly Strassel/Wall Street Journal/2/8/2011
  • The battle is joined. After a long silence, Donald Rumsfeld opened both barrels Tuesday, releasing his memoir, Known and Unknown . Early leaks of the book's defiant take on his life, times, and conduct of the Iraq War drew howls from some of the targets of his score-settling...But Rumsfeld battles on, taking his unapologetic account to the public. John Barry/Newsweek-The Daily Beast/2/8/2011
  • The book places the reader in Rumsfeld's chair and is a serious stab at telling the history of a consequential period in America through the eyes of one of its most consequential players. It will be an important addition to the history of our time. Peter Baker (New York Times White House correspondent)/Foreign Policy/2/9/2011
  • Rumsfeld "describes the highs and lows of a long and dramatic career and discloses some behind the scenes details that may shock you. Sean Hannity (interview transcript)/2/9/2011
  • Known and Unknown is a meaty, well-written book that will be a primary source for historians...this power memoir deserves to be read with the care that went into writing it. Christopher Buckley/Businessweek/2/10/2011

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Fay | 2/2/2014

    " If you like revisionist history, you will enjoy this book. While it was difficult to swallow some of his retelling, the book provided intering insights into how his mind works and helps explain why we are where we are today. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann | 2/1/2014

    " This memoir written by Donald Rumsfeld, our country's secretary of defense during the Geo. W. Bush years, is well worth reading through to the very last page of a very long book. Mr. Rumsfeld's service to his country covers decades ... he is a truly dedicated public servant as opposed to a polished politician. Having a son in the ARMY who served in Iraq from 2006-2007, I fully appreciate Mr. Rumsfeld's dedication to fully supporting and equipping our men and women in uniform during the months and years following 9/11... He was the right man for the right job at the right time in our country's history ... he is a man of integrity, toughness, and creative thinking. His analysis of the run-up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the amazing preparation that went into the execution of both wars is fascinating. He is extremely honest about the weaknesses and mistakes made during both, but also sets the record straight about many misconceptions that were promoted mainly by the media. I pray that we continue to have men like Mr. Rumsfeld to lead our country in the years to come. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joseph Howard | 1/19/2014

    " Very insightful and documenting. I was glad to start seeing books from the Bush Administration written by the players themselves, so I started with this one. Rummy is a bit on the arrogant side, so you have to take that into consideration, but I don't feel as though his arrogance was at the forefront in this book. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in political as well as American history, because the book covers a lot of behind-the-scenes action from the 1950s all the way into the George W. Bush presidency. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave | 1/17/2014

    " This book is kind of broken into three sections. The first section is Rumsfeld's early years in public service and elected office. This section worried me, because almost all of it is written in a general tone with too few details. At one point, Rumsfeld writes about Ford's involvement in a conflict in Asia with the Mayaguez incident between the Khmer Rouge and the United States from May 12-15, 1975. I had never heard of this incident, so I really appreciated that Rumsfeld went into more details by outlining options that were foreseen, consequences of the various options, and how all the other players were responding. Until then, Rumsfeld's details of his public service were very general lacking depth and only followed a timeline. This made me think that Rumsfeld really was not on the inside of the major issues of the day, and made me worried about the rest of the book. Then Rumsfeld enters the private sector, and his writing changes to someone speaking with great depth of knowledge, experience, and practical advise. The third section goes back into public service and has a mix of general timeline info and great depth on specific issues. I am sure that many readers will have significant issues with the later section of the book, the G.W. Bush Presidency and the decisions made after 9/11. But I greatly appreciated the depth of information presented regarding all of the options and issues that were present. These types of books always try to settle old scores, and I did not appreciate some of the swipes that Rumsfeld takes at others, especially when he paints Secretary Rice as a petty, uppity, manipulative person. Its understandable that different administrators have different opinions and many in politics have alternative agendas, the President was his own man and listened to whom ever he wanted and made his own decisions. It is a very long read, but I liked it, and I think I would also like Rumsfeld's Rules; he certainly quotes himself enough times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sherry | 1/10/2014

    " As a republican, I enjoyed this book. I've always respected Mr. Rumsfeld and enjoyed reading about his life and time in office. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 ej cullen | 1/9/2014

    " Interesting review of a decade of turmoil from the flawed, outspoken, but determined and forceful ex-SECDEF. The NY Times, in typical and unfair political hegemony gives the book short shrift, reviewing it (scathingly) in a Thursday publication. Rumsfeld's attitudes and opinion can be, (and should be) thoroughly questioned and judged, (by credentialed historians, not by Michiko Kakutani) but one comes away wondering what his ivory tower detractors would have done if assigned to make the decisions that he was forced to make in perilous times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth | 1/5/2014

    " Much of the time covered in Rumsfeld's book is a time we lived through, and I found this very interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Derek | 12/29/2013

    " It is a long read but very well written. I read a lot of history, biographies and found I really enjoyed this book. It gives you a behind the scenes look at different administrations from Nixon to GW Bush. One fact I appreciate is that Secretary Rumsfeld did not turn it into a political ideology based book but kept it as a recount of his life and really a history based book. If you enjoy history then I would highly recommend this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debbrowns | 12/23/2013

    " I only skimmed this book...to many details I was lost in his writing.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 C. Peterson | 10/26/2013

    " A positve look at what he did, admitting mistakes made, but still selective on picks. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Selby | 10/22/2013

    " Rummy should have Secretary of State. If he was, we would have been more successful in Iraq and sooner. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane Wilson | 9/15/2013

    " While interesting and fairly well written, I found it extremely biased. His story was also very political and much less personal than I would have liked to see. All of this is understandable in a memoir. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brent | 8/26/2013

    " Always admired Rumsfeld. Great book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deane | 2/27/2013

    " Well worth the time to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Greg | 2/3/2013

    " This was a very good book. I listened to the audiobook, read by the author. I think I enjoyed his recollections of the 60s and 70s more than the more recent things. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vladimir Silchenko | 1/5/2013

    " Very interesting and clever. However like with any book written by a politician one is wondering what parts of it are true :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Denise | 10/10/2012

    " Having lived through the events described in this book made it very interesting. I actually listened to this while riding on the back of Paul's motorcycle on an 1800 mile trip. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Adam Ashton | 4/17/2012

    " Fascinating life and mind. Book is full of finger pointing, especially during Bush years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon | 11/26/2011

    " It was a good insight into a long civil servant's career. It was very long but interesting if you are into that sort of thing. At times I felt like it became more of a confession, but overall a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gary Douglas | 7/31/2011

    " Another fantastic memoir. Very highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate S | 6/16/2011

    " While interesting and fairly well written, I found it extremely biased. His story was also very political and much less personal than I would have liked to see. All of this is understandable in a memoir. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Harold | 5/8/2011

    " This was a great account of much of the history that has occurred in my lifetime by a remarkably talented man who was there in the middle of it.

    I gained some valuable insights.

    "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jen | 5/4/2011

    " This is a thick book. I cannot wait to ready what he has to say. This was over 700 pages, most of it was interesting. Some of it was boring. I did get tired of reading what he or others should have done. Overall, this was a decent book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vladimir | 4/26/2011

    " Very interesting and clever. However like with any book written by a politician one is wondering what parts of it are true :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ronald | 4/1/2011

    " Even if you hate the guy, this is an excellent insiders view of the White House and many other aspects of the government. From pre-Nixon all the way to W's second term. It's amazing what this man has seen and done. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debbrowns | 3/26/2011

    " I only skimmed this book...to many details I was lost in his writing.. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Opa | 3/9/2011

    " This autobiography is well done about one of the most brilliant executives in history. Mr. Rumsfeld moved some of the largest bureaucratic organizations in the world just by his sheer personality. He always left organizations better than when he found them. "

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