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AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country Paperback – Bargain Price, May 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this impassioned, convincing manifesto, Schaffer (Keeping Faith) and Roth-Douquet, a former Clinton White House and Department of Defense staffer, call for class integration of the military. Their arguments are personal: Roth-Douquet is a military wife and Schaffer's son is a marine, and the authors fall within the demographic they critique. Alternately narrating, they relate their experiences with the military and detail the liabilities of the present all-volunteer "corporate" force: the hindered policy-making ability of a civilian leadership without significant ties to the military, the weakening of the armed forces themselves, and "the sense of lost community and the threat to democracy that results when a society accepts a situation that is inherently unfair." While Schaffer proposes a lottery draft and Roth-Douquet suggests the military "convince" people to sign up, they both call for all young people to submit to some form of national civilian service. Though the authors occasionally exaggerate ("we are fast approaching the day when no one in Congress and no president will have served or have any children serving"), they make a clarion call in the face of increasingly controversial foreign policy and a military stretched thin. (May 9)
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.


“As America looks for balance in a dangerous and complex world, AWOL is a great place to start.” (General Tommy Franks (retired) )

“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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060888601
  • ASIN: B001OW5NDW
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,508,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Southworth VINE VOICE on July 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
These two authors, one a Republican and one a Democrat, have written a provocative and very timely book about the large portion of society that doesn't see military service as fit for "their" kind of people.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Frank Schaeffer, a terrifc writer whether in the world of military, religion, or fiction brings his considerable skills with Kathy Roth-Douquet to bear on this seminal work on this nations upperclass' failures to support the military in deed, but often provide support with pale words.(I must admit to finding Frank one of the most skilled populist writers around today, and whether in agreement or not, he is a great communicator)

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I was raised in the 60's and the 70's during the Vietnam war. The focus for many of us in those days was avoiding the war at all costs. We were brought up to question authority, be skeptical of what the government told us, and to believe that war is hell and never a solution.

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.
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