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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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Excellent!

Would you listen to Drift again? Why?

A very good non-partisan review of the change of the management of wars by the American government over the decades

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Typical Rachel Style -- Superb

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).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A tough topic clearly explained

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Pam
  • United States
  • 05-04-12

Well researched and well written

If you could sum up Drift in three words, what would they be?

Enlightening. Shocking. Smart.

What about Rachel Maddow’s performance did you like?

The enthusiasm she shows in front of the camera also comes across in the book.

Any additional comments?

I'm in awe of Rachel Maddow's ability to synthesize so much complex information and communicate it in an easy-to-understand way. I was a kid during Iran-Contra, and never really understood what it was about, and now I do!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Uncomfortable Tuths, Well Presented

Carefully providing the historical underpinnings of both the intentions of the Founding Fathers and the "good" reasons for which "bad" laws have been put into place, Maddow lines out how we have handed off most of our freedoms for the illusion of security. Whether her liberal slant resonates with you or not, there's much here that should get your hackles up. I'm a Libertarian/Republican and I found much of interest here.

Maddow is an exceptionally intelligent, articulate, and charismatic woman who also has a strong academic bent. My only complaint about this book was that in her narration I found a bit more of her liberal smug sarcastic delivery, the thing that keeps me from watching her news program, than I was entirely comfortable with.

In the end, smugness aside, this is a book that everyone who really wants to believe that this is a free country needs to read and understand.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Drift is must reading for everyone

Where does Drift rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Not at the top, this is kind of an unfair question, but highly recommended

What other book might you compare Drift to and why?

Drift makes a good companion piece to Karl Marlantes, What It’s Like to Go to War. Drift is more about the evolving disconnect between our society and our war making policy and combat soldiers on a national level whereas Marlantes examines the real problems and contradictions that combat soldiers face both during and after combat. His chapters on Killing and Lying are first rate.

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

What other performances? I watch her on the nightly news.

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

Maddow described an accident outside Goldsboro NC in 1961, in which a B-52 jettisoned its two nuclear weapons. One landed and was retrieved, but was found to have exhausted 5 of its six fail-safe triggers before exploding. In another instance, Maddow described a policy that was in effect when I was part of the Strategic Air Command, in which Manned Bombers were kept in flight at all times in case of a sneak attack that destroyed the US. The ridiculous logic of SAC Policy was that these lonely air crews could then fly a limited number of bombers into the USSR and get some payback on behalf of a nation that no longer existed. The policy evidently took no account of the possibility that the crews would be disabled by grief and despair, knowing for example, that there's was a terminal mission in which they would have no base to return to, not to speak of no family, no country, and no nation..

Any additional comments?

Maddow should be read by all of us, but as an avowed liberal and gay person who has a nightly news hour on MSNBC, she will be cast into the outer darkness by the good Christian Evangelicals, Tea Party Republicans etc. whose venue is Fox News. The thread of her piece is the evolving so called Unitary Executive, pashed ruthlessly by George Bush and Dick Cheney, which arrogates war making into itself, too often with the consent and collaboration of the legislative branch. Part of this is the increasing trend of detaching war making from the national political discourse. Obama and Bush found it convenient to their very disparate interests, a long slow culmination from the end of the draft to war by drone, in which the drone pilot sits in a cockpit in Nevada or California and unleashes an armed missile against a target in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Or a B-52 pilot kisses his child goodbye in the morning and says he will be back tonight, while in the meantime "Boxing" a target in a war zone someplace and then flying safely back to base. This in turn is a byproduct of a generation of failed education and low information ignoramus voters who vote on the basis of which robo-call gets implanted most deeply in their head but has utter no conception of what's really happening in politics. Maddow's treatment of the Reagan administrations adventure in Grenada and how Reagan deftly circumvented public involvement or opinion, is priceless Maddow's bottom line is that when we go to war the entire country should feel the pain. One solution should be a mandatory National Service for every American from age 18-21, no exception, with military service one alternative form of service. Terms would need to be worked out, but it’s impossible for the foreseeable future. Republicans would see it as a big government burden that has no political upside and Democrats would need FDR-LBj sized supermajorities to get it past the Republicans. Charles BlandNiagara Falls NY

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Every American should read this

It's so easy to forget history. One gets wrapped up in a day, then a week and the overflowing laundry basket pushes history out of the mind. I understand Iran Contra more than ever and I don't understand why Nixon wasn't impeached. Or Reagan? What Clinton did was harmful to America but those 2 were heroes? I've felt long now that the American experiment in democracy was over, failed, sold to the highest bidder and out of reach. This book brings into detail the events that eroded the once possible goal of democracy. I don't see how future Americans will survive. Their stories will be like those of the North Koreans.

One thing I appreciate about the book is the extensive use of quoted material - primary source. I feel I can trust the reporting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An important book

Would you consider the audio edition of Drift to be better than the print version?

I did not read the print version, but Maddow's voice makes a compelling listen.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

A thesis that many of us have always suspected but not ever seen brought together in a single source before.

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

She is a passionate advocate for her story and her point of view.

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

The U.S. could solve most of its social problems with the money that is being spent on the preparation and execution of our foreign wars.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Everyone needs to read this book!

The audio edition of Drift must certainly be better than the print version. Rachel Maddow is a superb narrator. The sparkle and wit in her voice held my intense interest during this recital that is both grim and hugely important.

I am not old enough to remember Thomas Jefferson, but I am old enough to remember vividly the Viet Nam Conflict and succeeding events, both military and political. Whereas our founding fathers feared the idea of an imperial presidency, and tried to preclude it happening, that is exactly what has developed within my lifetime, a trend which Rachael brings into sharp focus. Dr. Maddow examines America's changing attitude about war and the shift in the power of the executive branch of government to take us to war which such clarity and insight as to be breathtaking. Although this is a scholarly work, it is easy to read and comprehend. I urge everyone read this book and give it serious thought. Perhaps then we could bend the tide -- or at least have an intelligent national conversation about tide bending.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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The GIG IS UP. Could not have been told better.

Where does Drift rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have "read" over 50 books in the last year or so including those on the financial crisis ( The Big Short, Too Big to Fail etc.), politics( Game Change, Back to Work etc) biographies, ( Destiny of the Republic, Washington etc), and the popular fiction books ( Steig Larsen series, The Help etc). This is the first review I have ever written and I think the best way to describe this book is that it is the most IMPORTANT book that I have read in a very long time. It really should be a must read in all high schools and college campuses around the country as that generation will be most affected by any decisions made in the next couple of years regarding just where we want to invest our human and monetary capital.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The straightforward account of how we got into this 50 plus years of runaway military spending and "perma-war" mentality while maligning the Constitution along the way. Also, very thought-provoking commentary about our current status of outsourcing our wars and the toll that is taking on the actual soldiers fighting them.

What about Rachel Maddow’s performance did you like?

I think Rachel narrating this book made it even more compelling than reading it hard copy. Her style is straight forward with emphasis where it needs to be while at the same time providing the humor she is known for.

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

I liked that she included an epilogue with a list of to-do's that could change the direction of the path we are currently on. It helps to take away the sick feeling that we all let this go on for so long. I will think about how to affect any change that I can.

Any additional comments?

You will say thank you to Ms. Maddow for opening up your eyes after listening to this book.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful