Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow
Published by Crown, an imprint of Random House
From the publisher:
“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 modern 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.
I honestly haven’t the first clue why I chose this book. I am only vaguely familiar with Rachel Maddow – have seen her show a couple of times and find her witty and smart, but don’t always agree with everything she says/believes – and honestly I’m not really into politics these days. But for whatever reason, the audio called to me so I answered the call and listened to it over the course of a week or so in the car. I am glad I did try the book, as it definitely made me think, but I have to admit that I’m not sure how to review it. So here’s my attempt.
So I think this book is important because it’s a view not expressed by anyone in the public, ever. Maddow sheds light on how we became a society at peace with constantly being at war and how dangerous this can be. It’s very difficult in the time of “support our troops” for someone to come out and say that we are TOO militarized as a nation but Maddow has the guts to say exactly that. She makes her case with facts and traces the history in a very concise, easy-to-understand way. I think she simplifies it a bit, probably to make the book more accessible, but either way she clearly traces how we as a country got from point A to Point B and it’s sort of scary how easily and quickly it happened.
Most people will see Drift as partisan, because Maddow spends a lot of time criticizing Reagan’s presidency and war efforts, but she doesn’t shy away from similar criticisms of Clinton and Obama, which I would say makes it very fair. This book is incredibly well-researched and Maddow does a good job defending her arguments with truth. It definitely made me think.
I would very much recommend Drift to just about everyone. There was a lot of history in the book that I was previously unfamiliar with and that I think every American should know. Believe me, I know that not everyone will agree with Maddow and that’s okay, but it’s always good to open one’s mind to another perspective and point of view.
The audiobook was excellent and I highly recommend going that route if you do choose to read this book. Maddow narrates herself and she truly delivers. Definitely a worthwhile read and listen.