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AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country Paperback – May 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“AWOL drives home...the need to address the evaporating sense of duty and service to our nation.” (General Les Palm (retired), President and CEO Marine Corps Association)
“AWOL is unique in its scope, intent and implications. [It] is clearly written and meticulously researched.” (Leatherneck Magazine)
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Top Customer Reviews
The book starts with an astonishing anecdote. The draft was initiated for World War I because Congress thought too many of the country's elites would rush to fight (and maybe die) for the country!
That concept simply could not even be comprehended today, where the children of our current elected leaders in Washington, DC, with a few noticeable exceptions, would rather avoid serving the country in the military.
The authors identify several symptoms of the problem: Recruiters who are discouraged from even bothering to look for potential troops at elite private universities, and instead recruit from state and small Christian schools in the south; the hostility of some parents to recruiters even talking to their children; and the rise of the "me" culture and the attendant devolution of the call to service (We certainly never heard that call after 9/11).
This is an important book. While the authors sometimes get bogged down or distracted--for example in their attempt to give a brief history of four different schools of thought of US foreign policy (leave that to Walter Russell Meade please)--their thesis is powerful and important. Besides, some of their most moving sections are from testimonials from current and former servicemembers on what duty and service means.
I highly recommend this book.
The book provides observations and yes, research, and although I have very minor quibbles, (Kathy, gives Clinton too much credit, although she is at times critical as well and while the military did a fine job, the stopping of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo has in reality, just caused other problems in reverse; and Frank supports a lottery draft, potentially problematic, albiet historically, it works more often than not - I prefer Kathy's option) these two authors provide great analysis and insight.
The strengths of this book are many: one, on how the military recruits on college campus and spends its money on ROTC programs faults our leaders for not engaging the upperclass. While this is understandable due to ivy league hostilities, it still needs to be pursued; two, the lack of moral clarity among our upperclasses ("me" and my "choice") is staggering and since these are the people generally with money, they are ripe for politcal leadrership, therefore, possibly using military men and women for their gains in foreign worlds, while not always properly equiping this same military to do the job; thirdly, the "not for people like us" is insightful and speaks to a snobbish group, again, lacking any moral clarity, especially when sacrafices are needed from them.Read more ›
As I age and watch world events unfold, e.g. Rwanda, Cambodia, Kosovo, Darfur, and 9/11, the point is well taken that evil does exist, that not everyone is well intentioned or rational, and that dialog can't resolve all conflicts. I have learned too that the international community can be slow to react or fail to react at all. Tragically, there is a time and a place for military intervention e.g. when no other efforts can stop genocide and all other less intrusive options fail. Where inaction is shameful.
Who do we look to to defend innocent populations, or to protect us at home? For the most part, we voice unending support for our troops regardless of how we feel about the policies or the policy makers. But most of us do not concern ourselves with who has to do the fighting or who is stepping up to the plate. We assume that those who can, get a good education, get high paying jobs, etc. and those who can't, join the military. Fewer of our policy makers, those who make life and death policy decisions involving the military, have any military experience. Most of us theoretically believe in service but never really consider serving. It's too dangerous, it's too disruptive, it's too distasteful.
Where is the equity in letting others fight battles that we agree need to be fought?
Many think Iraq was a gigantic mistake. Certainly, most persons of my generation cringe when the Vietnam War is mentioned. This is not a book about whether any particular confict is right or wrong.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is basic reading for those who want to more fully understand the most gruesome separation of the classes in the U.S. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Ingersoll1969
Everyone needs to read this, regardless of your views on politics or social issues. Exposes a dangerous problem that needs a remedy.Published on November 2, 2013 by JonBlaine
I had to read this for a political theory class and I'm so glad I did! It made me appreciate and better understand my own service to the country. Read morePublished on December 4, 2012 by Rachael Bassett
Should be required reading for all citizens. They raise a serious question that needs to be answered before this country can really get back on track. Shared sacrifice? Read morePublished on October 31, 2012 by David Gold
The authors cover every imagineable aspect of national service or lack thereof and it is done without castigation of those too elite to serve.Published on May 1, 2011 by Arthur C. Schefler
If nothing else, this book puts into perspective some of the social/economic classes in the US, and their relationship with the military today, versus what it was not too long ago. Read morePublished on July 17, 2010 by K-9
This book is a wonderful read, and condenses the current mindset of the upper class against the military, resulting in the lack of upper class sons and daughters in our military. Read morePublished on January 26, 2010 by Rough Customer