From Publishers Weekly
Sherry (The Rise of American Air Power) argues here that beginning in the 1930s, the U.S. entered into a process of "militarization." WWII and the Cold War reinforced American impulses to develop both an effective state and a prosperous, powerful nation. War and national security became consuming anxieties, providing metaphors and models that shaped major areas of civil life and public policy. The U.S. has not relished conflict, nor has it been dominated by military institutions. War itself remained a shadow for most Americans, even between 1941 and 1945. Yet Americans have waged "war" on poverty, drugs, AIDS and a host of other "enemies" with more energy than consequence. Similarly, U.S. foreign policy from the 1940s to the present has often been capricious and contingent, responding to perceived emergencies rather than concrete national interests. Militarization has been costly: however, disengaging from it is proving a complex process in a world where conflict remains a norm. A highly detailed argument of interest primarily to historians. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
We Americans prefer to view ourselves as an inherently peaceful people; our wars, particularly our overseas wars in this century, were forced upon us by totalitarian or authoritarian regimes. As a byproduct of these conflicts, we were compelled to construct a techno-military complex that placed an immense but necessary burden upon our economy and our daily lives. In his massive and disturbing examination of the growth of American "militarization" since the 1930s, Sherry shatters at least some of these comforting illusions. War created the U.S., war nurtured our continental expansion, and war preserved the union in the cauldron of the Civil War. Sherry convincingly dispels the myth that we immediately shrunk our armed forces after each war since the Mexican War. We were not dragged kicking and screaming into European conflicts in this century; rather, Sherry sees that involvement was the inevitable result of our expanded military power and ambitions. In the post^-World War II and cold war era, the militarization expanded, as much in response to domestic political forces as in response to external threats. Sherry's speculations on the possibilities for a "demilitarized" state in the future are both fascinating and rational. This is a well-written book that both specialists and laypersons can enjoy and appreciate. Jay Freeman