"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
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
At once an intimately detailed modern history of the military, where military power comes from and the changing politics of WHO sends soldiers into battle; a detailed commentary of the underpinnings of modern political issues we're dealing with (such as terrible deficits and endless deployment); and the wit and spin only Rachel Maddow (author and reader) can provide, this book may change your entire view of modern politics. Let me start at the end, then, if you don't buy this book right now, then put it at the top of your wish list. It's that good.
First, the narration is amazing. Rachel writes the same way she speaks and it's so intelligent, funny and fluid that you almost believe she's talking off the cuff the whole time. In fact it's as meticulously researched as any book I've read and written with such heart and care that you are less angry and more saddened at how we, as a country, have sent our soldiers into pointless conflicts and left them there with less support than they have ever received. If nothing else, this book is an argument that soldiers do not go to war, a COUNTRY does. We all chip in, we all feel the strain and we all are committed to a short conflict which risks lives only as a last option. Today we have the opposite, endless deployment and an American citizenry that is totally detached from those wars. This is wrong for our country, our budget and our soldiers.
The bulk of the book is how we got here. How did the power to make war drift away from the constitution and the Congress (remember, only Congress shall have the power to declare war - so why does the power to deploy troops today seem to lie solely with the executive branch?) From Vietnam through today, Congress gave up their authority and every executive (of both parties) have eagerly scrambled to pick up the discarded power. It has resulted in endless war, and a constantly growing military budget (even during times of peace.)
Please read this book. It's entertaining, it's informative. But more than that, it gives power back where it should be. With you, the VOTER. Informed citizens change the world and this book strives to give that power back to you. This is not a leftist or liberal bent book. It says something I think we can ALL agree on: sometimes America has to go to war. But when we do the debate about going should be loud and public and all of America should go to war and should want it over as soon as possible. Anything else is an insult to the military.
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.
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
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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