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Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country (American Empire Project) Hardcover

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Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country (American Empire Project) + The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War + The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
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Product Details

  • Series: American Empire Project
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805082964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805082968
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Despite our ostensible admiration of our men and women in arms, Americans have offloaded the full burden of war onto their shoulders—with dismal results, argues Boston University history professor and Army vet Bacevich (Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War) in this impassioned and painfully convincing polemic. Our Founding Fathers proclaimed that all free people must make sacrifices when the nation goes to war. As late as WWII, the draft affected nearly everyone, with most people having a family member, friend, or colleague in the service. F.D.R.'s government raised taxes and instituted price controls and rationing, yet few complained. Bacevich emphasizes that eliminating the draft in 1973 sowed the seeds of disaster. When Bush announced the war on terror in 2001, the president mobilized volunteer troops, but not the nation; he urged Americans to enjoy life, and he cut taxes. Since borrowing paid the bill, and there was no draft, few complained. When the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan turned sour, protests were mild compared to the upheavals over Vietnam. Bacevich asserts bluntly that a disengaged and compliant citizenry has reduced military service from a universal duty to a matter of individual choice, allowing our leaders to wage war whenever (and for however long) they choose—with little to fear from an electorate who are neither paying nor perishing. (Sept. 10)

From Booklist

In January 1973, the military draft was suspended, in effect pointing the way to an all-volunteer military. The Nixon administration hoped this would defuse antidraft elements, and it was also concerned about dissension within the conscript army. Forty years later, one could argue that we have a more professional, efficient military, well equipped to handle the high-tech nature of contemporary warfare. Is there a downside? Absolutely, asserts history professor and U.S. Army veteran Bacevich. He criticizes what he regards as the reckless application of military power, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike Vietnam, however, most American citizens feel disconnected from the true costs of the war in blood and treasure; taxes remain low and few worry that they or their sons or daughters will be placed in harm’s way. So our “support” for our military is reduced to staged patriotic displays costing most citizens nothing. Bacevich clearly has a foreign-policy agenda beyond civil-military relations, but this is a serious, well-argued work that should engender discussion within society and government. --Jay Freeman

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Customer Reviews

Thoughtful and well written.
Carol Campbell
It makes one realize how ignorant ordinary Americans are about the true nature of the US military and its Pentagon and civilian leaders.
John Ortbal
To summarize the book, if I may, "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail".
daniel kunsch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on September 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Bacevich's latest offering, BREACH OF TRUST, is going to make a lot of people squirm - if people read it, that is. Because in this book he tells us flat out that an all-volunteer army in a democratic society simply does not work, and that the present system is "broken." It is bankrupting our country, and not just financially, but morally. He tells us that Iraq and Afghanistan, two of the longest and most expensive wars in U.S. history, have evoked little more than "an attitude of cordial indifference" on the part of a shallow and selfish populace more concerned with the latest doings of the Kardashians, professional superstar athletes or other vapid and overpaid millionaire celebrities, reflecting "a culture that is moored to nothing more than irreverent whimsy and jeering ridicule."

Bacevich cites General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, who spoke about having "skin in the game," meaning that when a country goes to war every town and city should be at risk. McChrystal went on to say the unthinkable: "I think we'd be better if we actually went to a draft these days ... for the nation it would be a better course."

Horrors! That dreaded "D" word finally uttered aloud. Well, I'd say it's about damn time. And Bacevich agrees, noting that in his many speaking engagements over the past ten years "I can count on one hand the number of occasions when someone did NOT pose a question about the draft, invariably offered as a suggestion for how to curb Washington's appetite for intervention abroad and establish some semblance of political accountability.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gerald M. Sutliff on September 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I couldn't agree more with author Bacevich. Personally I've been out of sync with what passes for military policy since I returned from being a grunt level service man (USArmy) back in really early days of Vietnam conflict. In a sense this book reassures me that there are thinking, intelligent officers serving but on the other hand. where were they back in 1962 - 63 before it was too late? I'm looking forward to reading Bacevich's suggestions on how to prevent military "interventions" in the future. Bacevich's prose in clear and his arguments well written. I recommend Breach of Trust to anyone who harbors even the slightest doubt about our popularization of military culture from the Friday Night High School football game to Hollywood mega "entertainments". The worst action by Dick Nixon was ending the draft, I thought so then and do now.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Gosling on September 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Andrew Bacevich has done it once again. "Breach of Trust" offers a well researched account of the history of the Army, as well as how the country's citizens have abdicated their responsibility to truly stand behind the armed forces by making sacrifices in their own lives to "Support the Troops."

A criticism of Bacevich I have read in the past is that all his books are essentially the same: The misuse of the country's military to solve matters of international diplomacy. However, a close look at his work shows how he systematically analyzes each facet of how the government, and in turn the country's citizens, look to using the armed forces as an end in itself to maintain America's role as the one indispensable nation on the planet.

A must read for those interested in what a lack of genuine concern, and in turn, the responsibilities of citizenship, for the men and women in uniform will affect the country's future.

Mike Gosling
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Crowe on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Readers of Ben Fountain's novel "Billy Lynne's Long Half-time Walk" might have thought that behind that sad and satiric narrative lay an argument about the way in which the US Army and the civil society it serves have become disengaged from one another to an extent that our civic recognitions of military sacrifice have become increasingly spectacular and increasingly empty. "Breach of Trust" makes that argument explicitly and does so concisely and devastatingly. Bacevich reminds his readers of the very different relationship between civil society and the military in conflicts like the Civil War and World War 2, and while he is ready to point to the political failures that led to the change, he insists that the fault is not only with the politicians but with ourselves. He suggestively ties our attitudes to military sacrifice to our attitudes to other crises, like the recession of 2009, and indicts us all of being unwilling to make the everyday sacrifices that might compromise our material comfort while that comfort becomes available to fewer and fewer Americans and while we continue to drive ourselves deeper in debt with military spending that enriches large corporations but leaves the comfortably-off disconnected from a host of social problems and from soldiers who serve "us" with little substantive benefit and support. Bacevich is a severe moralist but a necessary one. The Bush and Obama administrations aren't spared, and even less are the pundits and so-called experts who pronounce fatuously on military matters. The book as a whole implies a criticism of our culture at large that demands our attention.
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