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The Rumsfeld Way

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The Rumsfeld Way

The Leadership Wisdom of a Battle-Hardened Maverick


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know, don’t lie, don’t act without deliberation, and don’t mess around with Rumsfeld.

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Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Jeffrey Krames’ biography of current U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is laced with leadership advice and built on databases and clips. This short book, at last, places Rumsfeld’s long career into a coherent framework. Probably to hit a wartime deadline, Krames based the text primarily on work published about Rummy over a 40-year period, and not on independent research. In fact, a disclaimer says the book has no endorsement or authorization from Rumsfeld or anyone around him. In the 1970s, Rumsfeld published a long list of bland but entertaining aphorisms under the title, "Rumsfeld’s Rules." Krames draws many of his leadership suggestions from that compilation. But the chronology about Rumsfeld’s career dominates and fascinates. Rumsfeld is far more interesting than he seems, a much more potent and historic figure. For that reason, recommends this book to corporate officers, journalists, news junkies, political operatives, disgruntled Saudis and all defense contractors.


Rumsfeld’s Moment

President George Walker Bush phoned Secretary of Defense Donald A. Rumsfeld from his jet on September 11, 2001. Bush felt (and still feels) total confidence delegating important tasks to Rumsfeld. On that dire afternoon, as the newspapers reported, Bush told Rumsfeld, "We’ll clean up the mess, and then the ball will be in your court."

The ball still is. Those in the military industrial complex or on the right flank of the Republican Party are likelier than most to be familiar with Donald Rumsfeld’s story, including how he became such a potent member of the Bush cabinet, surpassing even Gen. Colin Powell and VP Richard Cheney. The mass media has not established a cohesive picture of the man who has emerged as the spokesman for the Bush administration’s war on rogue nations and their terrorist collaborators.

For example, few are aware that Rumsfeld is a graduate of Princeton and a naval aviator who excelled in wrestling. Following two years as a congressional aide, he began his business career as a stockbroker, though his ultimate goal was already politics. With financial backing from the Searle family, among others, he ran for the U.S. Congress...

About the Author

Jeffrey A. Krames is vice president and editor-in-chief of McGraw-Hill’s Trade Division. He is considered an expert on leadership. He is also the author of The Jack Welch Lexicon of Leadership.

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