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Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War (Anglais) Relié – Séquence inédite, 14 janvier 2014

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Author’s Note
This is a book about my more than four and a half years at war. It is, of course, principally about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where initial victories in both countries were squandered by mistakes, shortsighted- ness, and conflict in the field as well as in Washington, leading to long, brutal campaigns to avert strategic defeat. It is about the war against al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, those responsible for our national tragedy on September 11, 2001. But this book is also about my political war with Congress every day I was in office and the dramatic contrast between my public respect, bipartisanship, and calm, and my private frustration, disgust, and anger. There were also political wars with the White House, often with the White House staff, occasionally with the presidents themselves—more with President Obama than with President Bush. And finally, there was my bureaucratic war with the Department of Defense and the military services, aimed at transforming a department organized to plan for war into one that could wage war, changing the military forces we had into the military forces we needed to succeed.
George W. Bush and Barack Obama were, respectively, the seventh and eighth presidents I worked for. I knew neither man when I began working for them, and they did not know me. To my astonishment (and consternation), I became the only secretary of defense in history to be asked to remain in the position by a newly elected president, let alone one of a different party. I came to the job in mid-December 2006 with the sole purpose of doing what I could to salvage the mission in Iraq from disaster. I had no idea how to do it, nor any idea of the sweeping changes I would need to make at the Pentagon to get it done. And I had no idea how dramatically and how far my mission over time would expand beyond Iraq.
As I look back, there is a parallel theme to my four and a half years at war: love. By that I mean the love—there is no other word for it—I came to feel for the troops, and the overwhelming sense of personal responsibility I developed for them. So much so that it would shape some of my most significant decisions and positions. Toward the end of my time in office, I could barely speak to them or about them without being overcome with emotion. Early in my fifth year, I came to believe my determination to protect them—in the wars we were in and from new wars—was clouding my judgment and diminishing my usefulness to the president, and thus it played a part in my decision to retire.
I make no pretense that this book is a complete, much less definitive, history of the period from 2006 to 2011. It is simply my personal story about being secretary of defense during those turbulent, difficult years.
Chapter 1
Summoned to Duty
I had become president of Texas A&M University in August 2002, and by October 2006 I was well into my fifth year. I was very happy there, and many—but not all—Aggies believed I was making significant improvements in nearly all aspects of the university (except football). I had originally committed to staying five years but agreed to extend that to seven years—summer 2009. Then my wife, Becky, and I would finally return to our home in the Pacific Northwest.
The week of October 15, 2006, the week that would change my life, started out routinely with several meetings. Then I took to the road, ending up in Des Moines, Iowa, where I was to give a speech on Friday, the twentieth.
Just past one p.m. that day I received an e-mail from my secretary, Sandy Crawford, saying that President Bush’s national security adviser, Steve Hadley, wanted to speak to me on the phone within an hour or two. Hadley’s assistant was “quite insistent” that the message be passed to me. I told Sandy to inform the assistant I would return Steve’s call on Saturday morning. I had no idea why Steve was calling, but I had spent nearly nine years at the White House on the National Security Council (NSC) staff under four presidents, and I knew that the West Wing often demanded instant responses that were rarely necessary.
Hadley and I had first met on the NSC staff in the summer of 1974 and had remained friends, though we were in contact infrequently. In January 2005, Steve—who had succeeded Condoleezza Rice as George W. Bush’s national security adviser for the second Bush term—had asked me to consider becoming the first director of national intelligence (DNI), a job created by legislation the previous year, legislation—and a job—that I had vigorously opposed as unworkable. The president and his senior advisers wanted me to make it work. I met with Hadley and White House chief of staff Andy Card in Washington on Monday of inauguration week. We had very detailed conversations about authorities and presidential empowerment of the DNI, and by the weekend they and I both thought I would agree to take the job.
I was to call Card at Camp David with my final answer the following Monday. Over the weekend I wrestled with the decision. On Saturday night, lying awake in bed, I told Becky she could make this decision really easy for me; I knew how much she loved being at Texas A&M, and all she had to say was that she didn’t want to return to Washington, D.C. Instead, she said, “We have to do what you have to do.” I said, “Thanks a lot.”
Late Sunday night I walked around the campus smoking a cigar. As I walked past familiar landmarks and buildings, I decided I could not leave Texas A&M; there was still too much I wanted to accomplish there. And I really, really did not want to go back into government. I called Andy the next morning and told him to tell the president I would not take the job. He seemed stunned. He must have felt that I had led them on, which I regretted, but it really had been a last-minute decision. There was one consolation. I told Becky, “We are safe now—the Bush administration will never ask me to do another thing.” I was wrong.
At nine a.m. on Saturday—now nearly two years later—I returned Steve’s call as promised. He wasted no time in posing a simple, direct question: “If the president asked you to become secretary of defense, would you accept?” Stunned, I gave him an equally simple, direct answer without hesitation: “We have kids dying in two wars. If the president thinks I can help, I have no choice but to say yes. It’s my duty.” The troops out there were doing their duty—how could I not do mine?
That said, I sat at my desk frozen. My God, what have I done? I kept thinking to myself. I knew that after nearly forty years of marriage, Becky would support my decision and all that it meant for our two children as well, but I was still terrified to tell her.
Josh Bolten, a former director of the Office of Management and Bud- get, who had replaced Card as White House chief of staff earlier that year, called a few days later to reassure himself of my intentions. He asked if I had any ethical issues that could be a problem, like hiring illegal immigrants as nannies or housekeepers. I decided to have some fun at his expense and told him we had a noncitizen housekeeper. Before he began to hyperventilate, I told him she had a green card and was well along the path to citizenship. I don’t think he appreciated my sense of humor.
Bolten then said a private interview had to be arranged for me with the president. I told him I thought I could slip into Washington for dinner on Sunday, November 12, without attracting attention. The president wanted to move faster. Josh e-mailed me on October 31 to see if I could drive to the Bush ranch near Crawford, Texas, for an early morning meeting on Sunday, November 5.
The arrangements set up by deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin were very precise. He e-mailed me that I should meet him at eight-thirty a.m. in McGregor, Texas, about twenty minutes from the ranch. I would find him in the parking lot at the Brookshire Brothers grocery store, sitting in a white Dodge Durango parked to the right of the entrance. Dress would be “ranch casual”—sport shirt and khakis or jeans. I look back with amusement that my job interviews with both President Bush and President-elect Obama involved more cloak-and- dagger clandestinity than most of my decades-long career in the CIA.
I did not tell anyone other than Becky what was going on except for the president’s father, former president George H. W. Bush (the forty- first president, Bush 41), with whom I wanted to consult. He was the reason I had come to Texas A&M in the first place, in 1999, to be the interim dean of the George H. W. Bush School of Government and Public Service. What was supposed to be a nine-month stint of a few days a month became two years and led directly to my becoming president of Texas A&M. Bush was sorry I would be leaving the university, but he knew the country had to come first. I also think he was happy that his son had reached out to me.
I left my house just before five a.m. to head for my interview with the president. Call me old-fashioned, but I thought a blazer and slacks more appropriate for a meeting with the president than a sport shirt and jeans. Starbucks wasn’t open that early, so I was pretty bleary-eyed for the first part of the two-and-a-half-hour drive. I was thinking the entire way about questions to ask and answers to give, the magnitude of the challenge, how life for both my wife and me would change, and how to approach the job of secretary of defense. I do not recall feeling any self- doubt on the drive to the ranch that morning, perhaps a reflection of just how little I understood the direness of the situation. I knew, however, that I had one thing going for me: most people had low expectations about what could be done to turn around the war in Iraq and change the climate in Washington.
During the drive I also thought about how strange it would be to join this administration. I had never had a conversation with the president. I had played no role in the 2000 campaign and was never asked to do so. I had virtually no contact with anyone in the administration during Bush’s first term and was dismayed when my closest friend and mentor, Brent Scowcroft, wound up in a public dispute with the administration over his opposition to going to war in Iraq. While I had known Rice, Hadley, Dick Cheney, and others for years, I was joining a group of people who had been through 9/11 together, who had been fighting two wars, and who had six years of being on the same team. I would be the outsider.
I made my clandestine rendezvous in McGregor with no problem. As we approached the ranch, I could see the difference in security as a result of 9/11. I had visited other presidential residences, and they were always heavily guarded, but nothing like this. I was dropped off at the president’s office, a spacious but simply decorated one-story building some distance from the main house. It has a large office and sitting room for the president, and a kitchen and a couple of offices with computers for staff. I arrived before the president (always good protocol), got a cup of coffee (finally), and looked around the place until the president arrived a few minutes later, promptly at nine. (He was always exceptionally punctual.) He had excused himself from a large group of friends and family celebrating his wife Laura’s sixtieth birthday.
We exchanged pleasantries, and he got down to business. He talked first about the importance of success in Iraq, saying that the current strategy wasn’t working and that a new one was needed. He told me he was thinking seriously about a significant surge in U.S. forces to restore security in Baghdad. He asked me about my experience on the Iraq Study Group (more later) and what I thought about such a surge. He said he thought we needed new military leadership in Iraq and was taking a close look at Lieutenant General David Petraeus. Iraq was obviously upper-most on his mind, but he also talked about his concerns in Afghanistan; a number of other national security challenges, including Iran; the climate in Washington; and his way of doing business, including an insistence on candor from his senior advisers. When he said specifically that his father did not know about our meeting, I felt a bit uncomfortable, but I did not disabuse him. It was clear he had not consulted his father about this possible appointment and that, contrary to later speculation, Bush 41 had no role in it....

Continued in DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary at War…

Revue de presse

A 2014 New York Times Notable Book

“Probably one of the best Washington memoirs ever...Historians and policy wonks will bask in the revelations Gates provides on major decisions from late 2006 to 2011, the span of his time at the Pentagon…Gates is doing far more than just scoring points in this revealing volume. The key to reading it is understanding that he was profoundly affected by his role in sending American soldiers overseas to fight and be killed or maimed.”
—Thomas E. Ricks, The New York Times Book Review
“Touching, heartfelt...fascinating...Gates takes the reader inside the war-room deliberations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and delivers unsentimental assessments of each man’s temperament, intellect and management style...No civilian in Washington was closer to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than Gates. As Washington and the rest of the country were growing bored with the grinding conflicts, he seemed to feel their burden more acutely.”
—Greg Jaffe, The Washington Post
“Forthright, impassioned…highly revealing about decision making in both the Obama and Bush White Houses…[Gates’] writing is informed not only by a keen sense of historical context, but also by a longtime Washington veteran’s understanding of how the levers of government work or fail to work. Unlike many careful Washington memoirists, Gates speaks his mind on a host of issues…[he] gives us his shrewd take on a range of foreign policy matters, an understanding of his mission to reform the incoherent spending and procurement policies of the Pentagon, and a tactile sense of what it was like to be defense secretary during two wars.” 
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“A refreshingly honest memoir and a moving one.”
—Jack Keane, The Wall Street Journal

“A compelling memoir and a serious history…A fascinating, briskly honest account [of a] journey through the cutthroat corridors of Washington and world politics, with shrewd, sometimes eye-popping observations along the way about the nature of war and the limits of power.…Gates was a truly historic secretary of defense…precisely because he did get so much done…His descriptions of how he accomplished these feats—the mix of cooptation and coercion that he employed—should be read by every future defense secretary, and executives of all stripes, as a guide for how to command and overhaul a large institution.”
—Fred Kaplan, Slate
“A breathtakingly comprehensive and ultimately unsparing examination of the modern ways of making politics, policy, and war…Students of the nation’s two early twenty-first century wars will find the comprehensive account of Pentagon and White House deliberations riveting. General readers will be drawn to [Gates’] meditations on power and on life at the center of great political decisions…His vision is clear and his tale is sad. Gates takes ‘Duty’ as his title, but the account of his service also brings to mind the other two thirds of the West Point motto: ‘honor’ and ‘country.’”
—David M. Shribman, The Boston Globe
Duty…is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of what makes Washington tick.”
—Edward Luce, Financial Times
“Gates has offered…an informed and…earnest perspective, one that Americans ought to hear, reflect on and debate.”
—Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

“Engaging and candid….Young people who want to understand and live up to the highest ideals of American statesmanship would do well to read this book carefully; Gates has much to teach about the practical idealism that represents the best kind of American leadership.”
Foreign Affairs


“This is a serious, thoughtful, illuminating, and valuable insider account of the final years of the George W. Bush administration and early years of the Obama presidency….Gates holds little back in this revealing memoir.”

“If you read only one book by a Washington insider this year, make it this one. It should be savored by anyone who wishes to know more about the realities of decision-making in today’s federal government.”
Library Journal

“The full story that emerges from this detailed and often deeply personal account is of a man fed up with the dysfunction of the nation’s capital.”
The American Conservative

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Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Rapide, très bonne qualité d'impression. Le livre est bien écrit et les commentaires sont sans comppromis. Je le recommande vivement.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5 2.693 commentaires
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the few memoirs I may read a second time 7 août 2016
Par Charles L Evans - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
As someone who has been associated with the US government (as active duty, a DoD civilian, and as a contractor) for 26 years now, I found this book to be incredibly insightful. I might well read it again. It usually takes me months to read a book this size; I finished this one in just over a week. One aspect that I enjoyed is that while Gates made numerous references to his past, he did not go on and on and on about it. When I read a book like this I do not care about how the author's grandparent's made their way to America. I do not care about where or under what conditions the author grew up. For a book like this I want to be hit in the face immediately with the here-and-now, and that's what Gates did. I think of the entire 600 pages he spent just over TWO pages on this childhood. Some authors spend entire chapters (or multiple chapters) about their years as a child and/or teenager. Some readers like that, and that's fine. For me, I don't care. If I am reading a SECDEF's memoirs I want them to begin at the moment he gets the call from the President and end with the day he resigns. This book is perfect in that regard. The amount of detail is amazing. Gates take you into the Situation Room with him, into the Oval Office, into the countless meetings and gives what I believe to be a balanced assessment of every personality that was in-play during his tenure (from field commanders to POTUS). Just as important, his love for the troops and their well-being is beyond question. Well done, Bob!
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Balanced, but hates politics too much 2 mars 2016
Par J&SLeavitt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I tend to think of memoirs as little more than a platform for public figures to try to glorify themselves or frame their legacies to ensure against the inevitable -- that everyone will forget that you ever existed (applies to most people besides presidents). In "Duty," on the other hand, Robert Gates gives us a pretty solid and fair account of his time in office as Secretary of Defense. He scores several points above the self-seekers out there.

That's not to say that Gates is just trying to get the facts out there; he's got his point of view and he's pushing it at us. The difference, in my view, is that Gates is doing it fairly. He's not above calling BS when he thinks he sees it -- he's especially hard on Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, and virtually the entire White House staff of Obama. But he's not just taking pot shots. He frames his disagreements as just what they were: policy disagreements, and he's gracious in noting that the people behind the disagreements are solid, smart, good people with whom he got along very well on a personal level.

That simple acknowledgement -- that those with whom we may disagree are, at the bottom of it all, pretty decent people -- is all to rare among public figures, and Gates gets my kudos for basing his memoirs on that foundational idea. He thinks pretty little of preening, parochial congresspeople and the way they place personal political gain above the good of the country, but regardless of policy differences he makes sure to note the good people he served with who genuinely had a different view of what's good for America, and Gates makes sure we know he appreciated that in his colleagues.

My biggest gripe with "Duty" is simply that I think Gates abhorred so much that politics could be an element of policymaking that he failed to acknowledge that -- as much as he doesn't like it -- it's a fact of governing. He tended in his memoir to be pretty harsh with those who kept politics on the president's radar, and I found that a little unfair. Presidents have to play politics. It shouldn't govern all, that's true, but by even Gates' own account, neither Bush nor Obama gave abeyance solely to politics. As such, I feel like Gates should have allowed more latitude to political advisers to do their jobs without griping about them all the time.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Gates in His Own Words 19 mars 2016
Par Michael Griswold - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Having read Duty Robert Gates memoir from his time as Secretary of Defense during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies. You have to take so much of what political figures say with a grain of salt because they obviously have stakes in making sure they are portrayed in the best possible light with the truth being as they say somewhere in the middle between the angel and the devil.

With that said, I think its really clear that Robert Gates appreciates the military and didn’t appreciate the morass that is/was? Veterans Affairs and the individual branches of the military bureaucracy. He also doesn’t mince words when discussing the two presidential administrations and the difficulties of communicating within the executive bureaucracy. While I thought much of this was pretty typical for any modern presidency, your view may be skewed by your political leanings.

My criticism is that while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are important, far less attention seemed to be given to other areas of conflict. While they are touched upon, it felt like they were dwarfed by the two wars. Absent this small criticism, it is an interesting look inside presidential administrations and decision making of political leaders.
354 internautes sur 389 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Review of "Duty" by Robert M. Gates 15 janvier 2014
Par Writing Historian - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
One paragraph from Gates is worth highlighting to encapsulate the book's overall theme - "I did not enjoy being secretary of defense. As soldiers would put it, I had too many rocks in my rucksack: foreign wars, war with Congress, war with my own department, one crisis after another. Above all, I had to send young men and women in harm's way." That quote frames what I believe to be the cathartic reasons that Gates wrote this book. I do not believe that he wrote this book for political reasons.

The first two chapters chronicle those events which I feel set the tone for the rest of the memoir, namely, Gates' uncomfortable introduction to Washington politics in the midst of an unpopular conflict, having replaced an unpopular SecDef, as the Democratic Party in both houses flexes its newly gained clout.

A significant portion of the third chapter is devoted to Iraq. It is also where Gates discusses his observations and opinions of prominent members of the Bush cabinet and military services.

Chapter Four - entitled "Waging War on the Pentagon" - focuses on Gates' struggles to overcome the entrenched bureaucracy within the Pentagon.

Gates talks about Syria, Russia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, China, North Korea, NATO, Eastern Europe, Georgia (Former Soviet Republic), and "of all things, piracy" in Chapter Five. The strongest points of this chapter are Gates' insights into his dealings with the Chinese, Russian and Israel leadership, as well as the somewhat symbiotic relationship between Israel and Iran.

Chapter Six - entitled "Good War, Bad War" - examines the shifting operational/strategic perspective as the war in Iraq seemed to be going much better while the conflict that enjoyed strong bipartisanship support, namely Afghanistan, seemed to be getting much worse. Gates' interaction with Vladimir Putin makes for more interesting reading. You will also find the author's perspective on the relief of the CENTCOM commander, Admiral Fallon, which highlights the fact that while administrations like candor from its military leaders, they don't like to read dissenting viewpoints in the national news.

Chapter 7 is a bit like Chapter 3 (but shorter) in that Gates' once again looks inward when chronicling a series of events that both horrified (flying nuclear weapons around the United States and Dover mortuary issues), annoyed (aerial tanker contract and Congressional reactions to several confirmation hearings) and mildly amused him (Condoleezza Rice's reaction to a briefing on Somali pirates). He also presents his side of events leading to the replacement of the Air Force's senior leadership.

In Chapter 8 ("Transition") Gates discusses how he walked a fine line between the incoming or outgoing administrations. He handles transition well, ably assisted by both the incoming and outgoing team, in a manner I can only describe as masterful.

The title of Chapter 9 (New Team, New Agenda, Old Secretary) hinted at the first signs of stress between Gates and the new team in the White House. He has many words of praise for SecState Hilary Clinton, who instantly gains his respect and trust. This chapter also discusses inadequate aeromedevac in Afghanistan, the need to produce an MRAP variant suitable for that theater, more Wounded Warrior and family initiatives, approving the photographing of the arrival of fallen heroes at Dover, FY 2010 budget pains, Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Iran, problems with USMC parochialism in Afghanistan, and a number of other related topics.

Chapter Ten is where the narrative discloses that relationships are starting to fray. There are also problems between US diplomats and soldiers and the Afghan president. Gates adds considerably to the previous coverage (Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars) through his first-person observations. He also names who he believes to be Woodward's sources within the White House staff in an effort to explain the perspectives found in Woodward's account.

Chapter Eleven (Difficult Friends, Difficult Foes) deals primarily with issues surrounding Iran, Israel, Russia, Vietnam, Bolivia, Pakistan, Korea (North and South), Wikileaks, and China during the 2009 - 2010 timeframe. He also reveals a disquieting session in the White House immediately following the earthquake in Haiti in which mid-level White House staffers question the competence of the SOUTHCOM commanding general because the US military apparently cannot get a tremendous amount of aid to that stricken nation within a reasonable period of time. Ironically, the very scale of US military assistance prompted the French and Brazilians to complain about the United States acting like an occupying power.

Chapter Twelve (Meanwhile, Back in Washington) discusses the disappointments experienced by Gates during this period. He observes that, "After the assurances from the president and Rahm (Emanuel) that they would oppose congressional action before the [Don't Ask, Don't Tell] review was completed, I felt there had been a breach of faith by the White House." Disappointment surfaces again during the FY budget development cycle. The chapter, however, does not concentrate exclusively on these events. Gates also discusses how once again he has to energize the DOD bureaucracy when the services and OSD fail to keep pace with enemy IED developments in Afghanistan.

The first half of Chapter Thirteen (War, War, and Revolution........) seemed, oddly enough, somewhat anti-climactic. It covers the removal of the US Ambassador to Afghanistan - Karl Eikenberry and the relief of General Stanley McChrystal, ISAF commanding general, but in a way that seemed familiar. It was one of the few sections where I did not find myself repeatedly thinking "I didn't know that!" The second half of the chapter, which deals with the revolutions in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, etc. evoked diametrically opposite reactions as I eagerly absorbed a great deal of detailed information about those landmark events. During the discussion prior to our Libyan intervention, you learn that stereotypes are made to be broken as the military chiefs and Gates initially argue against using airpower to assist the Libyan rebels while staffers and advisors with academic or political backgrounds push for the use of military force. Unlike Afghanistan, it does not take long for President Obama to come to a decision.

Chapter Fourteen is where I am going to wind up my chapter summary. It covers the last months of Gates' tenure, focusing on his final trips to Russia (where he had a much better reception than in 2007, although the Russians were concerned about American involvement in aiding the Libyan revolutionaries - which blew back in our faces in Syria where the Russians counseled against our involvement), to China, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The world tour accounts segues into a discussion of military and defense succession covering the changing of the guard within DoD (Panetta replaces Gates), CIA (Petraeus replaces Panetta), ISAF (Allen replaces Petraeus), Afghan ambassador (Crocker replaces Eikenberry) and CJCS (Marty Dempsey replace Mullen). Gates' account of the Bin Laden Raid follows next. After initially coming out against a direct action strike, Gates was persuaded to support the raid. Within an hour after Gates informed Obama of his change of heart, the President approved the operation. The chapter ends with another discussion of bruising budget battles and his final trips to Iraq and Afghanistan.

I found the book fascinating, informative, and plausible. That said, I would plead guilty to allowing my having read Donald Rumsfeld's memoir to influence my five star rating for Gates' much more candid account.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Judging a book by its cover 12 janvier 2017
Par Sarah - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I have not read the book so this is strictly about how the book arrived. I ordered for my husband as a gift. When I pulled it out of the box I immediately noticed the sleeve was put on incorrectly. The cover, spine and back writing inside the sleeve is off. We enjoy reading our books and then putting them on display. This book would be horrible to display. Actually it makes me question if this a reputable copy. Also the inside pages look and feel odd. I'm attaching photos. This might be returned for a new one because it's totally a disappointing gift from the jump.
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