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Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power | [Rachel Maddow]

Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

"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

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  •  
    Dolf White Plains, NY, United States 04-07-12
    Dolf White Plains, NY, United States 04-07-12 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Half the National Debt?"

    As expected from Rachel Maddow, DRIFT presents another way of looking at substantive things our country has come to take for granted. The research is superb and presents a fact-based rationale to support her thesis. As Eisenhower said half a century ago, "Beware of the military - industrial complex." Not much has changed since then. Unfortunately, much has become structural.

    Many of the book’s factoids are incredible. My biggest eye opener was that $7 trillion of our $15.6 trillion national debt was run up by the nuclear weapon industry. Talk about a concept that has never seen the light of day! That and our dirty bomb explosions around the world are disgusting. Why isn't anyone in government concerned about these and the myriad of other issues she raised?

    The beginning and end of DRIFT are clearly exceptional. Some other parts are overcome with too much filler to hold an overall outstanding pace. A little more editing with an eye toward impact per page would have made it one of the best books I've ever read. It's not bad . . . but it's also not perfect.

    Performance, on the other hand, is off the charts. Ms. Maddow's obvious understanding of the topic and enjoyment at presenting it are spectacular. It is a truly enjoyable and enlightening presentation.

    This book should be read by everyone who is interested in helping America. The “Might Makes Right” mindset goes only so far. What could our country have done with a portion of $7 trillion applied to something else?

    32 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvette Z Vandermolen FPO, AP United States 05-22-12
    Yvette Z Vandermolen FPO, AP United States 05-22-12
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    "Better Tribute Than Yellow Ribbons"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I recommend it to every American citizen, and everyone else who comes into contact with American foreign policy. We all need to understand what drives this country to war in order to fulfill the promises of peace.


    What about Rachel Maddow’s performance did you like?

    She's Rachel Maddow! Duh!


    Any additional comments?

    I have lived and worked in military communities as a member of the military family, and rarely do I encounter a civilian who really cares about understanding the untenable situation in which our government has put our military forces. If you care at all about how and why we go to war, and how that affects not only our military but American civilians as well, listen to this book and buy the paper version for reference. Forget the damn yellow ribbon magnets and buy this book instead!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niall bremerton, WA, United States 03-28-12
    Niall bremerton, WA, United States 03-28-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Rachel Maddow is fun and powerful"
    Where does Drift rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Fans of the Rachel Maddow show will already know her playful nature and her fun way of starting a long story with seemingly unrelated topics that later become paramount to the topic at hand. It is a style that has made me a fan of her show for years and it is all here in full force.

    In this book she takes a half step away from the red and blue politics to discuss the military industrial complex and the hold it has over today's leaders. This detailed look at the need for war is made more fun than ever before and always seems relevant to today. I am sure I will be listening to this one over and over and using it in discussions with friends and family because even though I have always thought that war was a bad thing motivated by the need for money this book shows a more powerful motive for war than even I had suspected.


    What does Rachel Maddow bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Maddow is a very fun and funny woman- I am glad that she read the book and could deliver her material in the playful way that she does on the show. I do not think that any woman could have brought this to life as well as her


    If you could give Drift a new subtitle, what would it be?

    A modern history of the Military Industrial Complex- and why you should care


    Any additional comments?

    Many people know Maddow for her role in the polarization in politics and even I have to admit that there are sides and loyalties in the fight that will keep conservatives from reading the book. Be aware though that this is not about the kinds of things that she normally discusses on her show- there is a surprising lack of opinion in the book, which is mostly history. So even if you are a conservative you should find this book fun and enlightening

    63 of 73 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 06-03-12
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 06-03-12 Member Since 2011

    I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Paradigm Shift"

    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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shirley Las Vegas, NV, United States 05-25-12
    Shirley Las Vegas, NV, United States 05-25-12
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    "She told the whole truth"
    Would you listen to Drift again? Why?

    Yes! Rachel told an easy to understand story of the sequence of events that lead to the creation of the war machine.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    How the rich have turned war into a business for all of Cheney's friends and business partners. They pretty much replaced our military with Black water rent-a-troop for billions of dollars and they provided nothing in return.


    What about Rachel Maddow’s performance did you like?

    She just put all the pieces together that show a picture that I have not seen before.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No. I really enjoyed the whole book!


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James T. Phillips Encinitas, CA 05-21-12
    James T. Phillips Encinitas, CA 05-21-12 Member Since 2012

    Jimbo

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    "A great understanding of the military"
    What made the experience of listening to Drift the most enjoyable?

    if I didn't understand the concept occasionally return and listened to the sentence or paragraph again.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Drift?

    The understanding of how the military-industrial complex uses the political arena to receive billions of dollars for weapons that we don't need or are obsolete.


    Have you listened to any of Rachel Maddow’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I watch Rachel Maddow on on MS NBC on occasions she's very bright intelligent and well-informed.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    My only extreme reaction was the stupidity of the American people to allow the military-industrial complex to rip us off.


    Any additional comments?

    I didn't think I would like listening to books on my cell phone this is the 3rd book that I've listen and I have really enjoyed it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen newark, DE, United States 05-07-12
    Stephen newark, DE, United States 05-07-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Scary Book, I wish I shared her optimism"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Drift to be better than the print version?

    The ability of having Rachel provide the vocal nuance adds a great deal to this book


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Drift?

    Description of the Iran Contra affair


    What about Rachel Maddow’s performance did you like?

    Wry humor


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book made me very concerned for where we are going as a country, and how we have an entire generation of Americans who think that war is a normal way of life and an acceptable first option in solving conflicts


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-01-12
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 09-01-12 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Military power unmoored from Constitutional intent"

    I've been a defense contractor for a couple years, and unfortunately, a lot in this book speaks to my experience. I see little real purpose to the project I'm working on, and little conviction among the military personnel we work with that the occupation of Afghanistan has achieved much good. I've also learned a lot about the capabilities of drone technology, and worry that its use by shadowy agencies is expanding unchecked. Where are we going and why?

    Maddow may be a darling of the liberal media, but much of what she has to say in this book will speak to readers in other camps, too, particularly libertarians. While her bias isn't too hidden, she thoughtfully refrains from overt side-taking or demonizing any leader. Rather, "Drift" sticks to its title and focuses on how US military power has become detached from its democratic citizen-soldier ideals and turned into something it was never intended to be: a tool of political convenience. Sweeping through the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st, she looks at how legal barriers to war have steadily been swept aside; turning it into a prerogative of the executive branch; at how the veil of secrecy has become a cloak of deniability for official incompetence; at how war-related duties have been outsourced to third parties with dubious interests and little accountability; and at how overseas conflicts now go on for years, scarcely affecting the lives of much of the civilian population.

    Younger readers, who have never known a world without a militarized CIA, remote-control assassinations, or invasions on flimsy pretexts, may appreciate the history lesson. We see how the sense of low national prestige during the Carter era led to a bold new narrative under Reagan -- and a bold new flouting of executive limitations, culminating in the embarrassing debacle of the Iran-Contra affair. We learn how more checks and balances eroded during the Gulf War under George Bush senior, who, in characteristic fashion, seemed peevish that Congress would make his job *difficult*. We see the rise through the ranks of unabashedly Machiavellian neo-cons, such as Dick Cheney. The book examines the horrifying misdeeds of private contractors during the Clinton years, and the expanding secret drone wars under Obama, operating under an absurd pretense at legality involving a bird-hunting area in Pakistan. As icing on the cake, Maddow adds a chapter reminding us of our decaying world-devastating nuclear arsenal, still prone to Strangelovian accidents and mishandling.

    I enjoyed Maddow’s dry sense of humor, her relish (in the audiobook) at quoting f-bombs from various military personnel, and her amusing characterization of Congress as constant evaders of being held responsible for meaningful (and potentially bad) decisions.

    The book might have been longer, and certainly skims over some prime material, such as the George W. Bush administration and its response to 9/11. Then again, so much attention has been paid to that in recent years, it’s probably valuable that Maddow takes the spotlight *off* Bush, and highlights the steady disconnect between military power and the public under other presidents. Lest Democrats don’t think their guy or gal can be culpable, too.

    Well worth a read, if you’re an American who believes that the government ought to make its case to the public *before* bombing someone, and that those officials in charge of implementing the plan ought to be held accountable for it. If you’re not, Drift might wake you up to why it matters.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-29-12
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-29-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Rachel at her best."

    This is Rachel Maddow at her best, and she narrates her book extremely well. Publisher’s note says it as well as I could:
    "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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin Astoria, NY, United States 04-09-12
    Justin Astoria, NY, United States 04-09-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Every American should listen to this book."
    Would you listen to Drift again? Why?

    Yes. It underscores a problem that few in our political class will even recognize, much less address with any courage. The most important factor of Maddow's thesis is that the problem can be fixed--we have the means, we just need the political will. It is a stark, deliberate accusation that lands on both sides of the aisle of Congress.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Colin Powell.


    Have you listened to any of Rachel Maddow’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This long form suits Rachel Maddow's prose as well as the short form of her television and radio shows.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    There are so many, it's hard to choose. The most important piece is that in the past we have attempted with some success to guard against the unmoored


    Any additional comments?

    Every American who cares about the men and women of our military, the position of our country in the world, and foreign policy in general should read this book.

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
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