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After being wounded and awarded the Bronze Star for valor as a Marine infantry platoon commander in Vietnam, Arnold Punaro thought he’d left the battlefield behind. Instead, he redeployed onto the battlefield of Washington politics.
For almost fifty years, he’s toiled at the intersection of the political and defense establishments, working with such luminaries as Sam Nunn, John Glenn, John McCain, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, Ash Carter, and many others. Today Democrats, Republicans, and career public officials agree on one thing: few individuals possess the military experience, governmental expertise, and personal integrity of Arnold Punaro.
Partnered with best-selling writer David Poyer, Punaro offers revelations about the most contentious issues of the past and sage advice for the future. From his military service to his role formulating and overseeing all major defense and intelligence legislation, Punaro reveals how decisions are really made inside the Beltway, providing insights into the actions of presidents since Jimmy Carter and Secretaries of Defense back to James Schlesinger. Unsparing in his criticisms of both parties, whose partisanship is leading our country over a precipice, Punaro presents radical proposals for much-needed reform to save the country for which so many have given their lives.
Publisher: Naval Institute Press (October 15, 2016)
Product Dimensions: 6.12 X 9.25 in
Shipping Weight: 22.24 oz
“On War and Politics by Arnold Punaro is a compelling portrait of a consequential life spent in his country’s service. While landmark legislation makes his book important, Mr. Punaro’s unblinking portraits of a host of towering figures will put it high on Beltway Christmas lists. Such nearly forgotten incidents, contrasted with the ever-present need to seek a sensible balance when determining national security policies, will surely make this book an essential primer for the new Trump administration. So, too, his no-nonsense concluding chapters on leadership and how best to run the gauntlet of congressional nominations, a ‘murder board’ practice refined by Mr. Punaro for a succession of defense secretaries. But what I liked best about this book was its first chapter, Lt. Punaro’s experiences as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam. Alternately remembering his prayers as an altar boy and ruminating on what he should have told his draft board, Arnold was badly wounded by enemy sniper fire, saved only when another Marine took a bullet meant for him. One Marine died that another should live, a sacrifice remembered in the book’s dedication: But even more in a superbly well-lived life.”—The Washington Times
“Arnold Punaro’s memoir, On War and Politics, contains a lifetime of wisdom, highlighting important lessons learned from his service as a Marine officer in Vietnam and beyond to his rise to power as a senior staffer in the United States Senate and then as a business leader. Anyone who wants to understand the politics of U.S. defense and security policy would do well to read Arnold’s book. His book is the story of an American patriot.”—William S. Cohen, U.S. Secretary of Defense, 1997-2001
“Arnold Punaro’s perspective on today’s security challenges is shaped by his leadership on military affairs for many years. He has earned the trust of our top military and civilian leaders because he is informed and knowledgeable, and because all of those who served with him on Capitol Hill know—as I do—that he always puts the country first. If we’re smart, Arnold’s thoughts will guide us in dealing with today’s security challenges.”—THE HONORABLE SAM NUNN, U.S. Senator (1972–96); former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (1987–95)
“In uniform and out, Arnold Punaro has been intimately involved in most of the major defense policy battles of the last forty years. This unique combination of firsthand experience, told with Arnold’s forthrightness and self-deprecating humor, make On War and Politics a must-read.”—LT. GEN. BRENT SCOWCROFT, USAF (Ret.), former National Security Advisor (1975–77; 1989–93)
“There are few people who know Washington and the Pentagon better than Arnold Punaro. His no-nonsense style and candor make this a must-read for those who can only wonder about how Washington really works.”—GEORGE J. TENET, former director, CIA (1996–2004)
“Arnold Punaro is a classic Washington insider, someone who knows everybody—and where the skeletons are hidden, too. I’d pay good money to read anything he writes about what he learned in D.C.”—TOM RICKS, contributing editor, Foreign Policy
“General Punaro’s experiences make interesting reading, his historical analysis is a major addition to the public policy record, and his insights are a thought-provoking contribution to the ongoing policy debate.”—GEN. JIM JONES, USMC (RET.), former U.S. National Security Advisor (2009–10)
“The well-known—inside the Beltway—citizen Marine and his co-author ‘in the actual writing of the book’ offer anecdotes about a lifetime of service to the Corps and Congress. The Vietnam veteran enlisted in 1968 and ‘never intended to make the Corps a life’s work.’ When he arrives on Capitol Hill for a 1973 internship he ‘hadn’t even voted in the previous election.’ Unlike other recent Washington memoirs, the book due in October acknowledges few enemies, but there are a few soft slaps. That other Marine, Oliver North, proves that ‘charisma goes a long way, but not all the way.’ And after Punaro’s 1998 committee suggests creating a nationwide security department, the post-9/11 formation of Homeland Security ‘seems akin to buying the fire truck after the house has burned to the ground.’”—Military Times
“This book will appeal to a broad readership: professional military, defense business civilians, academics, and those with an interest in the legislative process. Punaro delivers an informative, entertaining, and often riveting narrative. The historical episodes flow seamlessly with his insider’s perspective. Historians and political scientists studying the give-and-take in major defense issues from 1973 to 1997 should relish Punaro’s eyewitness accounts. He pulls no punches. He criticizes elected officials who were either less than honest, overly political, or just dumb, naming them as he details his assertions. At the same time, Punaro confesses his own lapses or mistakes, usually small ones, but, on rare occasion, a big one. On War and Politics succeeds at all levels. It is a personal, yet riveting, journey of the author’s life, set against the most important military conflict and national security issues of the times.”—Marine Corps Gazette
“The book has a kind of realness, good and bad, that is so often missing in the meticulously well edited, yet yearningly hollow, works of beltway and military leaders today. I would expect to see this book on the shelf of every military leader, though not necessarily for the direct and didactic lessons war and politics. Compared to the weight the rest of the book carries, these lessons seem a bit redundant and empty. I got those same lessons reading about Punaro and his wife Jan enjoying peanut butter and cheese wiz on their crackers for their honeymoon, because that story is incredibly real. That is what makes On War and Politics a must read, because in an era of carefully crafted and framed stories, Punaro comes at the reader with his art of making the real world beautiful, and the reader walks away knowing Arnold Punaro and feeling a sense of awe at the story of a real person.”—The Strategy Bridge
“Arnold Punaro is a Washington Institution who has done much of the work over the past several decades required to build the most capable military in the history of the planet….while the elected politicians have mostly taken the credit. Bipartisan, fair, patriotic, brave, and principled. He is a model for public service and doing things the right way.”—Dr. John Hillen, Executive in Residence and Professor of Practice, George Mason University’s School of Business
“On War and Politics offers an excellent window into the critical relationship between the legislative and the executive branches and the role of the Congress in national security decisions.” — Foreign Policy
MajGen ARNOLD L. PUNARO, USMC (RET.), served thirty-five years in uniform, both active and reserve. He spent twenty-four years in the U.S. Senate, becoming staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Currently CEO of a small business, he was a top industry executive and continues to serve on numerous boards and commissions on national security.
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On War and Politics
After being wounded and awarded the Bronze Star for valor as a Marine infantry platoon commander...Read More