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The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 14, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A scholar and documentary film maker (Why We Fight), Jarecki presents a succinct explanation of why modern presidents can make war whenever they feel like it. Jarecki writes that America's founders worried about presidential belligerence, so the Constitution gave war-making authority to Congress, which declared all our foreign wars through WWII—and none afterward. Drawing on historical research and interviews, he emphasizes that the young America was less isolationist than histories proclaim, invading Canada and Mexico several times and taking great interest in international affairs. But war fever really arose only with the start of the Cold War. Suddenly presidents commanded an enormous peacetime force and wielded the immense powers Roosevelt had acquired in WWII. Since then, Congress has gone along with presidential decisions to make war (then grumble if it doesn't go well). Today President Bush asserts that terrorism requires a perpetual state of emergency and that he will launch a pre-emptive war if he detects a threat to America's security. In this illuminating—and to some, perhaps, discouraging—book, Jarecki says there is only a modest groundswell of opinion to curb presidential powers. (Oct. 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Eugene Jarecki is the acclaimed fimmaker of The Trials of Hnry Kissinger and Why We Fight, winner of the 2005 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and a 2006 Peabody Award. He has been a Senior Visiting Fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies and is the founder and director of The Eisenhower Project, an academic public policy group dedicated, in the spirit of Dwight D. Eisnehower, to studying U.S. foreign policy.
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You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416544569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416544562
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,493,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Booking the Empire: "Why We Fight" Filmmaker Makes His Case In Print

by Rob Williams; editor, Vermont Commons newspaper

What happens when an award-winning documentary film producer turns to a print monograph to make his case?

If you are Eugene Jarecki, the answer (to borrow a baseball metaphor) is: you hit a solid triple, with an eye towards home plate.

Jarecki's new book - The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men and a Republic in Peril (Simon and Schuster, 2008; 324 pages) - is a provocative and personal exploration of the same crucial themes he explored in his Sundance Film Festival 2005 Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary "Why We Fight." Ignore Jarecki's "confession" to being "first and foremost a filmmaker" on page 1, rather than a "policy scholar, a soldier" or an "insider to the workings of America's military establishment."

Pay his humility no mind. Jarecki possesses a keen eye for detail, an ability to listen closely to his subject's personal and professional motivations (and the often-felt tension between the two), and a knack for speaking synechdocally - that is, using individuals and moments to illustrate larger systemic and historical truths, and the reader is the better for it.

The book begins, as his film does, with President Dwight David Eisenhower's 1961 "Farewell Address," in which the prescient Ike warns Americans to guard against the dangers of the "military-industrial complex," that potent and profit-seeking combination of special interests that might spell the death of the U.S. republic.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have to admit, I am a bit of a centrist in many things and a conservative in others, yet this book took me out of my comfort zone and challenged my thinking, or should I say, propagandized mind.

Jarecki, the filmmaker of "Why We Fight," goes to the next level to delve into the history and development of America's way of war, particular since the end of the WWII and the beginning of the cold war. Jarecki starts with the present, flashes back to the times of Truman and Eisenhower and then back to the present again in reviewing how we got to where we are. He also goes into our going to war in WWII and how that influence the very important National Security Act of 1947 that eventually lead to the MIC (the Military Industrial Complex).

What fascinate me in all this is when he shows that Truman and the Dems of his time and for sometime there after were the ones engaging in developing our military capacity after WWII and the Republicans wanted to get back to isolationism. One area I wished he had spent a little time on would have been how did we get from that to the why, when and how the transition took place.

His approach to the NeoConservatives (fake conservatives) was really enlightening. So, really, we have a group of individuals who write a blueprint for the USA and it is followed almost to the letter after 9-11. He is really so very well researched and rarely allows himself to show any narrow mindedness in political discussion. However, there are times where he seems to contradict himself. Ike was warning that there was less need for nukes and Kennedy was for them, then a little later, Kennedy said Ike was all for nukes and not for conventional war making as much. He could have clarified his thoughts on things like this.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Regardless of one's political leanings, there's no denying that the United States has steadily increased its involvement in the affairs of other nations (and vice versa) over the past two centuries, or that the development of agencies like the CIA and NSA have granted significant new powers to the Executive branch of its government. (Of course, the rest of the world hasn't exactly been static over that time.) Eugene Jarecki's new book follows the changing nature of US foreign policy to try and put the events of the past eight years into historical context. While the author's anti-Bush agenda is clear and colors most of the work, the context he develops is fascinating and important to understand in its own right.

The writing is entertaining, although the author's point of view can sometimes be grating for those who don't share it (or who might grow tired of its somewhat outdated views on Iraq, which at times read as though they were written in 2005, not 2008). For example, after quoting Susan Eisenhower on her grandfather making sure to personally write letters to the families of soldiers killed in the Second World War, Jarecki writes: "Speaking at a time when sitting president George W. Bush shows little desire to recognize U.S. military losses, let alone attend military funerals or communicate with grieving families, Susan pauses to let the pregnant contrast speak for itself." Maybe she explained the meaning behind her "pause," or maybe it was obvious, but it's also quite possible that the author is simply projecting his own attitude onto his subject. On the other hand, the opinionated commentary should not dissuade anyone from reading the book, which is chock-full of anecdotes and quotes that are well worth reading.
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