on November 14, 2004
First of all, I should point out that Mark is a longtime, a good friend of mine. Whether or not that biases my review of his book, I will let other readers of it decide. Much of the book is incredibly informative and entertaining, its style purposefully nonacademic and personal, the author's presence in the work evident throughout as if he were there to remind us, "Reader, the research, the organization of concepts of the history and politics around the book's core subject, the conclusions the book draws: all are mine." And Mark is confident in his conclusions, even while he allows for disagreement. That said, he challenges the reader, as he did me, to rethink our disagreements in the light of the material he presents. As for its core subject, the book is a detailed argument, a plea, even, against American interventionism, the crux of that argument being that it goes against the very wise foreign policy path the Founding Fathers set out for our country, goes against the Constitution in spirit, as well as in letter. For me, one of the most illuminating and interesting segments in the book is his discussion of militia vs. standing armies. Using, as always, historical record to support his argument, Mark holds up the Swiss militia and its use for national defense--as opposed to use of a standing army--as a litmus test of whether a country is a true democracy or not. He discusses how in its fight for independence and for sometime after, the United States did use such a militia, did have such a "democratic" philosophy of national defense and non-interventionism, only in the ensuing years, for political and economic reasons, to turn to an army of professional soldiers, and from that, to interventionism. "Globocop," a role which America has taken on, means global warrior. And in that role, how many wars and military squabbles, large and small, has America involved itself in? There are some format issues in the text that distract, and the nonacademic style of presentation might be a turnoff to some readers. And, of course, it's doubtful that any reader will agree with all of Mark's conclusions. I, for one, believe he is a little too easy on Japan and its responsibility in instigating W.W.II, a responsibility which, in my opinion, it has not fully come to terms with, regardless of what a few government officials have said off-the-record. Japan sees itself, to this day, as more victim in W.W.II than victimizer, and it seems to me that Mark makes the case that there is at least some justification for that. Maybe so, but I can imagine the many Chinese, Koreans, Allied POW's and soldiers and other victims of Japanese aggression and cruelties who would strongly disagree. In any case, I see this book as Mark mounting, in the best of democratic tradition, the soap box, extrapolating, preaching, educating, engaging whomever will stop long enough to listen. I hope many do. The book deserves an audience.
on August 22, 2012
I've never written a book review before, but this work from Mr. Ledbetter has compelled me to do so. I stumbled upon Mr. Ledbetter's "Americas Forgotten History, Foundations" and read it like a man possesed. I believe it was recommended to me by kindle from my reading history, which included many biographies of Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Washington, Adams, works by Hayek, Smith, Bastiat, histories of the progressive era, and full scale American history books. I have been on a search for the truth of where we as a country went wrong, and was determined to find it no matter where it lead me....Even if that forced me to renounce everything I hold dear and my very right leaning world view. In this search I went from Republicanish, to hard core Jeffersonian libertarian anarcho-capitalist. Anyway, I read the first "Americas Forgotten History" because kindle recommended it, the title intrigued me, and it was a buck fifty. I figured I'd only be out of a cup of coffee if I bought it and didnt like it. Well, I started the first page and couldnt put it down. I finished around midnight, and wanted more. The house I happened to be at, didnt have wifi, so at 1:30 in the morning I drove to a 24 hour McDonalds and downloaded the second "Americas Forgotten History". Naturally I wanted more, So I went searching for the third addition on amazon. I was horrified to find it isnt out yet, but I found "Globocop" and bought it instead. Now a word of caution, I try to be skeptical of everything, and living by Jefferson's famous "question with boldness even the existance of god, for if there be one, surely he more approves the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear" quote, well That is not an exact quote but very close.Anyway to my point, I am still Fact checking this book with my own library and the vast sources of books Mr. Ledbetter lists in the back of the one being reviewed here. So far, everything checks out, and it jives with what I already know to be true, I just never looked at it through the lense Mr. Ledbetter uses to explain Americas past.It was a fantastic fascinating read. Bogging down rarely in the mire of the complexities that are very necessary to understand context of the history. I love books that change the way you think, and this one surely did. Mr. Ledbetter begins each one of his books freely explaining he is not a historian and a "rank amatuer", but I am sure I am not the only one sick of high horse intellectuals in tweed suits using Ivy League degrees to beat the common man intellectual into silent submission. I find his historical views untainted by the stink of overly "educated" yale and harvard alumni to be very refreshing. It is not necessary to read the first two titles mentioned here to enjoy Globocop, but it helps to put it in context. Globocop is itself a fantastic historical work, but I also highly recommend his other works when you finish this one. Keep em coming Mr. Ledbetter.
on April 7, 2011
First off, I'll say straight out I don't agree with all of the book's conclusions, especially about FDR -- but that's partly because politically I'm on the left-wing side of the house (OK, maybe die-hard liberal would be a more honest description). Nonetheless, this well-written book manages to be both enjoyable and thought-provoking, even for those of us who (like myself) subscribe to a different interpretation of history. The author takes the reader on a walk through America's past, tracing the development of what he sees as two tendencies innate in the American character, the one dedicated to a more Jeffersonian ideal, the other to interventionism and imperial ambition. Along the way, he discusses some interesting forgotten episodes in US history -- the Espionage Act of 1917 and Sedition Act of 1918. (I seem to remember hearing about these in passing in high school, but that's about all I remember -- and that was a while ago). He contrasts America's history with that of Switzerland, a country that has remained staunchly neutral/isolationist even through the world wars. Finally, he forges these observations on history into a bold argument for a radical change in American policy that would more closely parallel the Swiss model.
All in all -- interesting, well-researched book, even if you disagree. Recommended for anyone wanting to understand the libertarian view on US foreign policy.
on August 23, 2010
Ah the slippery slope from Republic to Empire ... if you've ever wondered how we evolved from a nation who believed in free trade and a non-interventionist foreign policy, to a country of nation builders and policemen the world, then this is the book to read. This book traces the important events and personalities directly responsible for the shift in ideology and policy, which lead to the America we see today.
A fascinating read, at a wonderful price!
on December 30, 2011
Before I read Globocop, I wasn't really sure how to look at the U.S. foreign policy abroad in the world, especially in the Middle East. My father is in the military, so I am a strong believer in the military. I remember when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq started, that I was for the wars without giving any thought to why the terrorist attacked us. As with many other fellow Americans, I saw the terrorist as freedom-hating, backwards people, who lived in the fifth century, and were religious fanatics. Now, especially after reading this book, I understand why fundamentalist in these countries hate us. For example, how we placed U.S. troops in Saudi Arabi to protect its oil fields from fear of Saddam Husein attacking Saudi Arabi and taking its oil reserves for himself. Osama Bin Laden shortly after, and I'm paraphrasing, but said, "I resent the Saudi government for allowing foreign troops on the holy lands."
Globocop introduced me to the ideas and concepts of blowback, true conservatism, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. (Free trade, diplomacy and friendship) I was interested in this book because I support Ron Paul, but I wanted to know more about why his foreign policy was so radically different from others. I initially agreed with him on foreign policy before reading this book but again, I wanted to understand why a non-interventionist foreign policy was a better ideal than our current foreign policy.
What I have discovered in this book has reshaped the way I see the current republican and democratic parties, and how neither of them are truly different from one another. By that, I mean that both parties practically do the same policies, as I'll explain: Bush with Afghanistan and Iraq, Bill Clinton with Bosnia, Obama with Libya... then Bush with medicare expansion and Obama with Obamacare, and Bill Clinton's failed attempt in the 90's to introduce national health care. How neither party truly reduces taxes because it would ultimately mean we'd have to give up our foreign adventures, military-complex and social programs. Finally, how both parties feel it is our obligation to continue our version of manifest destiny throughout the world by institutionalizing forced democracies and opening these nations up for our American businesses to profit off of.
I am by no means someone who hates America. On the contrary, I love this country. Every citizen of every nation feels that way, it's called patriotism. I think America is truly one of the greatest nations on Earth because of our fundamental beliefs and values, which the founding fathers gave us in the Constitution; however, I can also see myself as somewhat of a progressive, too, because I realize that government should intervene sometimes. An example is when in the late 19th century, millions of Americans were out of work, with no money because of no work to be found, many starved. Yet, the federal government under President Cleveland did nothing really to help these people who were suffering at this time, as President Cleveland did not believe it was the federal government's job to intervene in such affairs. There are more examples I can give, but the fundamental question I have to ask myself is this: Do we follow the Constitution to the letter, do we allow for some interpretation (yes, the document is loosely written to allow for interpretation), what is the right course of action?
The founding fathers could never answer all these questions, and left many of these concerns to later Congresses down the road; however, one thing I am firmly locked into believing is that the federal government's foreign policy is crippling this nation, destroying our civil liberties (NDAA 2012/ Patriot Act), and putting this nation in more debt than our current GDP.
To conclude, this book will give you an insight into how the founding fathers intended our foreign policy to be, but it will also make you question your current political philosophy, too. It's a great first introduction to America's foreign policy, especially in the first and second half of the 20th century.
on April 16, 2012
This is an excellent treatise on how our country has tried to "buy" the love of other nations, and realized the exact opposite affect we anticipated. I think it goes to the heart of what is sick about America. We have raised generations, since WW-II, who believe that our government knows best for us and we should turn our responsibility over to self-serving politicians. What have we gained by pouring tons of money into foreign countries other than their increased hatred of America? What have we gained by losing thousands of young American's lives by trying to force democracy on civilizations that are still in the dark ages?
Democracy and Freedom must come from the inside - populations must want it so badly that they will fight for it, just as our forefathers fought for ours. Has America become so insecure that it must try to buy acceptance from people who take our largesse and then kill us? A well done overview of where we have gone wrong in the past, and why we should reevaluate our strategy for the future.
on March 1, 2012
READ this book!! Being a history buff and feeling like I had a fairly good take on the progressive/liberal movement that's infected this country since the turn of the 20th century, I am amazed at how much of that history has been neglected till I read this composition. Mr. Ledbetter's research, attention to detail, and grasp are impressive. I now realize much of what I considered fact was written with an agenda. I thank the author for this work without the spin. If you aren't afraid of the the true facts READ this book.
on March 23, 2014
A cold shower, written by a "citizen historian". It has one major omission (probably because the author did not want the book attacked, in his view, unnecessarily. ) That is, that the father of the Empire of the West, and the executioner of the Jeffersonian ideal was Lincoln, and the Civil War was the crucible which gave birth to the empire (as well as one of the darkest stains on the American consciousness). In any case, even if you don't agree (maybe especially if you don't agree) with the last sentence, read this book.
on October 22, 2011
The author does not seem to have gotten much attention as a historian, but I have found this and his other books to be gems, very enjoyable reads. He takes you on a journey that is easy to follow, with commentary some might disagree with, but still very clear. I have found this book to have more influence on my thinking of where our country is, and precisely when and where we changed from our first 100 years (thus losing our soul). Once you see the change starting with Teddy Roosevelt and the following years to present, it all comes together, at least for me. The book has views and conclusions our country needs to debate. We have so many who feel our country needs to be protected, spend ungodly sums of money on the military when our risk of "attack" is not only remote, but with minimal consequences; the scenario where we lose our freedoms to another country seems less than remote. From this book you get a sense that once you get powerful and have the ability to act like an empire, it is inevitable that one of the presidents is eventually going to use that power with devastating consequences to our economy. Seems how we approached Libya in late 2011 is an example of not being tempted to use that power to the full extent just because we have it, and it ended far better than the approach we used in Iraq for example. I would recommend this author and his other books to those who want to understand where our country is today and how it came to be, plus very reasonably priced.
Added comment after another read: Ron Paul would love this book, and in reading it, I am finding myself moving in that direction. What impacts me is not so much whether we as a country should or should not be pursuing our interests in other parts of the world (though I am impacted by his views), the real issue is, even if it were the right thing to do, we are ineffective at doing it, so why bother. This books is a history lesson to show why democracies will fail in our policing efforts (i.e., globocop), why they actually result in the opposite of what we hoped to achieve. My gut tells me our country believes the hype and dangerous over-simplifications of "our" politicians because we do not know history. History is well presented in this author's book(s). Another thought I have from reading this book: We deserve what we are getting because of 1) who we elected, and 2) our ignorance as a composite society, our Society IQ is on a great day at room temperature. I see no reason for optimism other than hope the next generation will learn How Not To Do It from the present generations.
on May 20, 2014
I hate to admit some of what I read in this book. But I have to admit all I have been able to research so far he is dead on the money. I gave it four stars only because I hated some of the content but truly I am only killing the messenger because it is really eye opening, a must read for everyone who believe we should be policing the world.