Times Book Critic Loves Bob Woodward's Newest

The Times' reliably anti-Bush chief book critic Michiko Kakutani surprises no one by relishing Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward's "State of Denial," his negative assessment of the administration's handling of the Iraq War and its aftermath.

Here'sthe impressively compact opener to Kakutani's review, headlined"A Portrait of Bush as a Victim of His Own Certitude."

"In Bob Woodward's highly anticipated new book, 'State of Denial,' President Bush emerges as a passive, impatient, sophomoric and intellectually incurious leader, presiding over a grossly dysfunctional war cabinet and given to an almost religious certainty that makes him disinclined to rethink or re-evaluate decisions he has made about the war."

While Kakutani has been critical in the past of Woodward's reporting methods , her approval of his anti-Bush message this time around seems to have left her critical faculties in stasis.

"Mr. Woodward draws an equally scathing portrait of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who comes off as a bully and control freak who is reluctant to assume responsibility for his department's failures, and who has surrounded himself with yes men and created a system that bleached out 'strong, forceful military advice.'....Were the war in Iraq not a real war that has resulted in more than 2,700 American military casualties and more than 56,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, the picture of the Bush administration that emerges from this book might resemble a farce."