Books offer a picture of Chuck Hagel

January 08, 2013|By Dave Rosenthal

Now that Chuck Hagel has been nominated by President Obama as defense secretary, his record is sure to be intensely scrutinized -- even more than it was when he was a senator. His past remarks on Israel and a gay man have already triggered some criticism. A couple of books provide a more detailed look at his political rise and his views.

-- In "America: Our Next Chapter" (2008) by Hagel (with Peter Kaminsky), the then-senator offered a critique of the state of the nation, as well as proposals to put it "back onto the right path," according to the publisher's description. Among the issues he tackled were "foreign policy problems that the current administration has bungled or ignored, including China's growing economy; control of U.S. debt; India's and Pakistan's nuclear capabilities; and Iran's aggressive political, ideological, and nuclear stances. He decries the pervasive disease of third world poverty, arguing convincingly that this is where the real fight against terrorism must begin. ... And, of course, he gives a candid examination of the debacle that is the Iraq War."

-- "Chuck Hagel: Moving Forward" (2006) by Charlyne Berens examined his rise from cell phone mogul to Nebraska senator, and a potential GOP presidential contender. According to the publisher's description: "Berens charts Hagel’s quick rise to national recognition and influence and examines the background that has led Hagel to an outspoken internationalism that often puts him at odds with his own party and president. This complex, plain-spoken Nebraskan may be on his way to the White House." Booklist said Berens "recounts his childhood in Nebraska and his service in Vietnam along with a younger brother, who eventually opposed the war, while Hagel was more critical of its outcome but not its purpose. Berens recalls Hagel's business success and political career and notes the constant comparison to fellow Vietnam vet Senator John McCain. She also explores controversies that have been raised and will be raised again if Hagel decides to run for president."

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