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Publisher's Summary

A bold and urgent perspective on how American foreign policy must change in response to the shifting world order of the 21st century, from Andrew J. Bacevich, the New York Times best-selling author of The Limits of Power and The Age of Illusions.

The purpose of US foreign policy has, at least theoretically, been to keep Americans safe. Yet as we confront a radically changed world, it has become indisputably clear that the terms of that policy have failed. Washington’s insistence that a market economy is compatible with the common good, its faith in the idea of the “West” and its “special relationships”, its conviction that global military primacy is the key to a stable and sustainable world order - these have brought endless wars and a succession of moral and material disasters.

In a bold reconception of America’s place in the world, informed by thinking from across the political spectrum, Andrew J. Bacevich - founder and president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a bipartisan Washington think tank dedicated to foreign policy - lays down a new approach - one that is based on moral pragmatism, mutual coexistence, and war as a last resort. Confronting the threats of the future - accelerating climate change, a shift in the international balance of power, and the ascendance of information technology over brute weapons of war - his vision calls for nothing less than a profound overhaul of our understanding of national security.

Crucial and provocative, After the Apocalypse sets out new principles to guide the once-but-no-longer sole superpower as it navigates a transformed world.

A Macmillan Audio production from Metropolitan Books

©2021 Andrew J. Bacevich (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"The proliferating crises of our moment have found their interpreter. In this piercing account, Andrew Bacevich explains how distinctively American attributes - from our national security state to our original sin of racism to our very self-concept as the world leader - have, in the 21st century, conspired to render the American people vulnerable where they live. Bacevich points the way forward in terms that Americans across party lines are likely to appreciate. Will their leaders?" (Stephen Wertheim, author of Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy)

"An excoriating call for change...Bacevich's arguments are well-informed and stoked by a sense of moral outrage. Readers will agree that US foreign policy needs a massive rethink." (Publishers Weekly)

"With a reputation for knowledgeable, incisive, and provocative readings of history, Bacevich delivers his latest addition to a growing body of thought-provoking work.... Broad in its scope yet concise, this is an important nonconformist interpretation of American history." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Required reading.

With the exception of the subject of 9/11, where the author merely repeats the impossible and discredited official account, I found his analysis of the USA’s problems to be spot on. I lived in the States for 36 years (from 1956 to 1992) a period that covered the USA’s steady decline from post-war superpower to a failing state run by corporations with a smarmy drug dealer from Arkansas as puppet president. Interestingly enough, the country’s interconnected failures were harder to see when I actually lived there, i.e. I was too close to the forest. It took moving back to Europe to enable me to see the trees more clearly. In this short but powerful book the author demonstrates his talent for seeing the pattern and its integral parts. This book should be read by every American. Not just read, but publicly discussed, analyzed, debated, and understood. However, I don’t expect it will be. The message is too painful for a people brought up with nonstop propaganda regarding the USA’s “greatness.” The US empire will therefore continue to decline, thrashing about like a wounded beast with its military (what else does it have?), and go the way of all empires, serving as an example for future historians of how a country chose to destroy itself with negligence, decadence, drugs, and mind boggling social experiments instead of doing the work it would take the be truly great.

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Very negative but with merit.

This is third book I’ve purchased by Andrew Bacevich. I admire with military and geopolitical knowledge as one of the best. In this book he is seemingly biter regarding the historical events of the US and it’s leadership. Informing but strong opinions by the author are apparent. The narrator should stick with Ken Burns documentaries. His voice is just too authoritative.

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Realistic and sobering assessment of where the USA

It is hard to accuse Andrew Bacevich for the lack of patriotism and the love for his country. Career military himself, Vietnam vet whose son also paid with his life while serving in Iraq. So when he offers an opinion, people should take it seriously. USA is on the wrong track misguided by self delusion of grandeur and exceptionalism. Focused on the wrong things and chasing the wrong objectives. Bacevich is trying to lift that veil and offer an alternative vision. Will his advice be heeded? Time will tell but things do not look promising at the moment. Madness continues....

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Apocalypse Today

Bacevich has been one of the few historians who looked at the GWOT with open eyes in the last twenty years. He’s done this again in his latest book, but now he’s predicting our future. The failed wars made by dumb generals and politicians, along with their partisan voters, have been part of a bigger illness Americans suffer from. Our exceptionalism in war and empire have dug our own graves.

Bacevich has provided a alternative future without our exceptionalism if we have the courage. The chapters on race and the environment are excellent. There’s a soundness and modesty in his thought that you can’t find within the empty two party tent. Good narration by Peter Coyote, too.

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Bacevich Abandons Reason for Woke Studies

I have read all of Bacevich’s previous books and would give most of them 4 to 5 stars.

However Bacevich like so many college professors has abandoned the age of reason for preaching wokeness and white guilt. If you are an avid reader of the New York Times and woke you’ll love his “Apocalypse” and revelations that all of America’s failings are because of white power and privilege. This is stunning given how many of his previous books failed to mention this.

That Donald Trump was feckless and a poor choice for President is pretty obvious to most of Bacevich’s usual audience. But Bacevich fails to acknowledge any of Trumps core instincts and successes. Trump unlike Obama did not start any new wars which is a remarkable turnabout considering the last 50 years of presidents. Trump signed a peace and troop withdrawal agreement to end the war in Afghanistan. Trump refocused America’s strategy in the Pacific to counter Chinese aggression against American allies in the South China Sea. Obama on the other hand initiated and supported numerous new wars and coups in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Honduras. Bacevich offers no insight into how Donald Trump whom he claims was elected by a “white nationalist movement” managed to kill a lot fewer black and brown people than Obama. Instead we are supposed to just take Bacevich’s word for it that Trump was the worst America had to offer.

Bacevich has plenty of intelligent things to say in this book, but if you have read any of his previous works then there really is nothing here for you.