The book quotes Holbrooke as saying that his small staff stayed up late preparing analysis papers that it believed went unread.
"There's one person in the room who reads them," Holbrooke told his staff, "and that's the man they are intended for."
The White House staffers also pointed to portions of "Obama's Wars" that they said showed the president pushing to get the right strategy.
"I'm not going to make a commitment that leaves my successor with more troops than I inherited in Afghanistan," the president said.
As with any book by Bob Woodward, "Obama's Wars" reveals the author's remarkable access, and contains plenty of fly-on-the-wall anecdotes.
National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones, for example, is said to have referred to other aides as "the water bugs" or "the Politburo," according to The New York Times.
The Times also reported that Defense Secretary Bob Gates was said to express worry that Jones would be succeeded by his deputy, Tom Donilon, who would be a "disaster."
Some other tidbits, according to The Washington Post:
"During a flight in May, after a glass of wine, Petraeus told his staff that the administration was '[expletive] with the wrong guy.'"
Also from the Post: "Suspicion lingered among some from the 2008 presidential campaign. ... When Obama floated the idea of naming Clinton, his former opponent, to a high-profile post, Axelrod asked him, 'How could you trust Hillary?'"
And on the subject of another terrorist attack, the president told Woodward in July, "We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever ... we absorbed it and we are stronger."
ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.