New Robert Gates Book ‘Provides Unique Insight into a Decision-Maker’s Humanity’, Ohio Wesleyan Professor Says

Sean Kay reviews text for ‘War on the Rocks’ web magazine
Sean Kay, Ph.D.

Sean Kay, Ph.D.

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University professor and global security expert Sean Kay says former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ new book shows the struggle of being a “realist in an idealist world.”

Kay, Ph.D., a professor of politics and government, reviews Gates’ book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War” for the web magazine “War on the Rocks.”

“In ‘Duty,’ Robert Gates challenges key liberal and neoconservative narratives about American primacy and the spread of American ideals that have driven American foreign and national security policy for the last two decades,” Kay states.

Though the 640-page memoir “offers too little focus on some of the greatest strategic questions of the day” – China, the Asia Pivot, and U.S. involvement in stability in Afghanistan, for example – it provides a captivating look at the impact of high-profile public service, say Kay, who also serves as director of Ohio Wesleyan’s Arneson Institute for Practical Politics and Public Affairs and chair of the International Studies Program.

“Critics of Robert Gates miss a vital contribution of his book,” says Kay, whose own books include “Global Security in the Twenty-First Century: The Quest for Power and the Search for Peace.”

“[Gates’ memoir] provides unique insight into a decision-maker’s humanity and the emotional toll that the call to public service takes.” Kay states. “In a time when official Washington disgusts most Americans, we all might pause to reflect on the service of civilian professionals and those in the armed services who devote their lives (and those of their families) to advancing our national security. … Robert Gates embodies and personifies that experience, and this is why his book is so important.”

Read Kay’s complete book review, “Gates: A Realist in an Idealist World.” Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Politics and Government, Arneson Institute, or International Studies Program.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private, coed university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world practice. OWU’s 1,850 students represent 42 states and 37 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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