"One of my favorite ideas is, never to keep an unnecessary soldier," Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1792. Neither Jefferson nor the other Founders could ever have envisioned the contemporary national security state, with its tens of thousands of "privateers"; its bloated Department of Homeland Security; its rusting nuclear weapons, ill-maintained and difficult to dismantle; and its strange fascination with an unproven counterinsurgency doctrine.
Written with bracing wit and intelligence, Rachel Maddow's Drift argues that we've drifted away from America's original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war, with all the financial and human costs that entails. To understand how we've arrived at such a dangerous place, Maddow takes us from the Vietnam War to today's war in Afghanistan, along the way exploring the disturbing rise of executive authority, the gradual outsourcing of our war-making capabilities to private companies, the plummeting percentage of American families whose children fight our constant wars for us, and even the changing fortunes of G.I. Joe. She offers up a fresh, unsparing appraisal of Reagan's radical presidency. Ultimately, she shows us just how much we stand to lose by allowing the priorities of the national security state to overpower our political discourse.
Sensible yet provocative, dead serious yet seriously funny, Drift will reinvigorate a "loud and jangly" political debate about how, when, and where to apply America's strength and power - and who gets to make those decisions.
©2012 Rachel Maddow (P)2012 Random House
Everyone needs to read or listen to this book. Rachel's voice reading her own words gives them the weight they deserve. But more important, her impeccable research will astound and often horrify.
Rachel's description of how irresponsibly we treat the nuclear weapons in their storage facilities and transportation. Also, her account of Ronald Reagan's campaign and presidency will leave you gape-mouthed.
The author's distinctive voice and personality greatly enhance the listening experience. One could say that the reading is definitive.
It is not a story, of course, but an argument about how our nation has "drifted" far from its original ideals and has somewhat complacently settled into an acceptance of perpetual war. Often the hard facts of our national suffering and sacrifice are kept from us, and even more often we just do not see this or get involved.
"We'll all go together when we go." Perhaps that's too flippant, but Maddow does in fact evoke "Doctor Strangelove" in her final chapters.
Judging by the hate-filled comments about this book on some other websites, it would seem that all one has to say is "Rachel Maddow" and people of a certain political persuasion will begin foaming at the mouth. It's clear to me that they have most certainly not read "Drift," for Maddow's argument is clearly and logically presented, supported by facts and remarkably free of leftist ideology.
This is not to say that her distinctive brand of sarcasm is absent from the text, but her aim is not an attack on Republicans or Democrats, but at a generally misguided use and understanding of our military that transcends party lines. My only criticism would be that the book is not longer and more detailed. It is worthwhile for those who have forgotten all about it to revisit the absurd invasion of Granada and the immoral and illegal Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan years. And it will perhaps come as a surprise to many that several astounding near nuclear disasters have been avoided only by a miracle.
As Tom Brokow has said, this books is "a long overdue and provocative examination of the abuses, excesses and just plain foolish elements in our national security systems. These are issues that deserve our attention."
I was a bit skeptical that this book would be non-partisan, but it is! And this was my biggest (and most pleasant) surprise. Maddow is critical of all administrations (Republican and Democrat) and makes good arguments. I certainly hope she continues to stick close to the topic and write another book over time as we progress (regress?) in the way we wage and fight wars in the future. Conservatives, do not fear reading this book. It will not upset you in the sense that the criticism doesn't focus on the right. Where it will disturb everyone (and rightly so) is that it's critical of an overall philosophical move that we've made in our military policy as a nation over time, through Republican and Democratic administrations...the CIA drone strikes ordered by Obama as one of the primary examples.
My other overall "surprise" is how intelligent Maddow is. I always knew she was smart, but wow, it's really evident in this book that she's quite brilliant. I always consider myself quite astute with geopolitics, but several times I had to stop the book (audiobook) to absorb everything and consider what she was saying. The reader has every right to dispute the arguments or Maddow's opinions, but it would be really hard to dispute her intelligence.
Finally, I really like the book because it's not dry policy wonk stuff. Maddow uses lots of wit and great lines to make the book entertaining. To get the full effect of this, I would highly recommend the audio version since Maddow narrates her own book, so the timing and inflection is natural and quite funny in some spots (even given the serious nature of the topic).
I'm old enough to remember the events Rachel discusses in 'Drift', but I was amazed to learn of all the background she gives to the Reagan administration. I also immensely enjoyed Rachel's reading, and I hope she is already working on her next book.
Rachel did not stray away from the Dems for not doing the right things. She points out the power grab of both parties and allows you to understand how this has happened and why (as to what was going on during that period). She also shows the dangers of what is going on and the scale to which it is going on. I do not believe Americans know to what level the power grab is going on.
That Rachel read her own work and the passion of the written word came though.
The privatization of the military and dangers it's causing this country.
A clear understanding of what's really going with US military and how dangerous it's to the country's future.
Military Might for a Price
I love audio books
Yes to absorbe even more
best non fiction I have read in a long time
Very informative, well written, superbly narrated. I don't have time to read "everything" that's important to me, so I depend on Rachel to get the facts, cut through the garbage issues and report succinctly on the key topics... and in this book, she does exactly that. Thank you Rachel. I look forward to reading your next book (hope it's soon).
Rachel Maddow conducted real research for this fact-based book. It is written in a clear, non-partisan manner, such a refreshing change from the bitter diatribes of talk radio hosts. Maddow's narration is professional and personable.
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