Douglas Feith's 'War and Decision'

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The March 9 front-page article "Ex-Defense Official Assails Colleagues Over Run-Up to War" claimed to summarize a forthcoming book by Douglas J. Feith, "War and Decision," scheduled for publication on April 8. The description is very different from what readers will find upon reading the book for themselves.

Take, for example, one instance in which the article misquoted the book. Your reporters wrote that Mr. Feith criticizes as "fear-mongering" accounts of the war derived from State Department and CIA sources. In fact, the term appears in the book only once, in reference to charges made by outside critics against the Bush administration. The book says that "among critics of the Bush Administration" concerns about state sponsorship of terrorism have been dismissed as "fear-mongering" -- an entirely different point.

Readers will come to their own conclusions about the account Mr. Feith gives in "War and Decision." Meanwhile, several distinguished scholars and former officials who received the book for prepublication review have praised it for its rigor and evenhandedness. "For a major player in the process, he is quite objective," wrote James Schlesinger, a former secretary of defense and CIA director. And historian Jean Edward Smith, a critic of the administration, judged: "Douglas Feith has written a model memoir: fair-minded, objective, and without rancor. The fact that the policy to which [Feith] contributed was flawed from the outset in no way diminishes the historical importance of this firsthand account."

We feel confident that this important book will be recognized not as a polemic but as a well-documented contribution to the public debate.

CALVERT D. MORGAN JR.

Vice President/Executive Editor

HarperCollins Publishers

New York


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