Worthy Fights by Leon Panetta & Jim Newton

Worthy Fights

By Leon Panetta & Jim Newton

  • Release Date: 2014-10-07
  • Genre: United States
Score: 4
From 61 Ratings
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The inspiring and revelatory autobiography of the defense secretary and CIA director who led the intelligence war that killed Bin Laden, among many important roles in a legendary career

It could be said that Leon Panetta has had two of the most consequential careers of any American public servant in the past fifty years. His first career, beginning as an army intelligence officer and including a distinguished run as one of Congress’s most powerful and respected members, lasted thirty-five years and culminated in his transformational role as Clinton’s budget czar and White House chief of staff. He then “retired” to establish the Panetta Institute with his wife of fifty years, Sylvia; to serve on the Iraq Study Group; and to protect his beloved California coastline. But in 2009, he accepted what many said was a thankless task: returning to public office as the director of the CIA, taking it from a state of turmoil after the Bush-era torture debates and moving it back to the vital center of America’s war against Al Qaeda, including the campaign that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. And then, in the wake of bin Laden’s death, Panetta became the U.S. secretary of defense, inheriting two troubled wars in a time of austerity and painful choices.

Like his career, Worthy Fights is a reflection of Panetta’s values. It is imbued with the frank, grounded, and often quite funny spirit of a man who never lost touch with where he came from: his family’s walnut farm in beautiful Carmel Valley, California. It is also a testament to a lost kind of political leadership, which favors progress and duty to country over partisanship. Panetta is a Democrat who pushed for balanced budgets while also expanding care for the elderly and sick; a devout Catholic who opposes the death penalty but had to weigh every drone strike from 2009 through 2011. Throughout his career, Panetta’s polestar has been his belief that a public servant’s real choice is between leadership or crisis. Troubles always come about through no fault of one’s own, but most can be prevented with courage and foresight.

As always, Panetta calls them as he sees them in Worthy Fights. Suffused with its author’s decency and stubborn common sense, the book is an epic American success story, a great political memoir, and a revelatory view onto many of the great figures and events of our time.


  • Self Serving

    By Duaine
    This book provides useful historical context but, unfortunately, Panetta was unable to present an objective, non-partisan view of that history. He clearly has a self-serving perspective of events throughout his life in government. There was a subtle thread of partisanship throughout that detracts from the quality of his efforts. In the end, he proves to just be another typical Washington insider.
  • Not worth it

    By Mstrpara
    Disappointment. Book is not worth it in terms of cost or time to plough through a lengthy history of his life and self congratulation. Another example of the arrogance of many life long government officials and their belief in their intelligence and contributions that exceed reality. The press made a big deal of the alleged criticism of Obama when in reality there were only a couple of minor examples, ie Obama's reluctance to make decisions and surrounding himself with a small group of like minded political cronies that reinforce his biases, both well known facts. Mostly a view through rose colored glasses and that glossed over the pettiness and infighting that exists.
  • Nothing New

    By Manolete1946
    I am not an Obama fan, but I find it disgusting that a former high ranking official criticizes a president who is still in office and under whom he served.Up to this point I liked Leon Panetta and therefore was in disbelieve that he would lower himself just to sell a mediocre book.Besides the critique of Obama (albeit quite possible justified) there is nothing in this book which is new or profound.Read the critique in the NYT from Oct 7,2014 and you know everything which is to know.Save your money.