Access to transcripts of National Security Council meetings and a multitude of interviews with top government officials, including close to four hours with President Bush, gave Bob Woodward plenty of raw material. The result of his research, Bush at War (Simon and Schuster, 2002), doesn't pretend to be a comprehensive look at Mr. Bush's first two years in office, but it does provide a close look at the day-to-day functioning of the machinery of the Bush administration during the 100 days of emphasis on terrorism following Sept. 11, 2001.
We learn who argued in meetings and why changes were made in speeches. As would be expected, the participants who reportedly cooperated wholeheartedly with Mr. Woodward (for example, Secretary of State Colin Powell) end up looking better than others (Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld) who did not. Above all the infighting, Mr. Bush appears as a strong president who is willing to listen to both sides of an issue and then make his own decisions-and Mr. Woodward does not repeat his previous error of quoting a man, William Casey, who was in a coma at the time the interview purportedly took place.