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The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (American Empire Project) Hardcover – March 18, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his exhaustively researched first book concerning the extent to which the "military industrial complex" has infiltrated the life of the average American, journalist Turse starts off by documenting how many times supposedly innocent consumer choices support major Pentagon contractors then covers similar ground in greater detail. Turse has up-to-date information on a previously well-covered subject and casts a wide net, including the movie industry, video gaming and military recruitment tactics in his analysis. Many of Turse's facts are purely economic, but some of them are astonishing. Who knew, for example, that in 2005, the Department of Defense spent $1.2 million on donuts in Kuwait? Or that Harvard received over $300 million in DoD funds in 2002, after being pressured, despite concerns about discrimination, to allow military recruiters access to its law school students? Though Turse offers plenty of interesting information, ultimately this book would have been more convincing if, instead of simply amassing and condensing such information, he had built a stronger argument about what it all means.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“This is a deeply disturbing audit of the Pentagon’s influence on American life, especially its subtle conscription of popular imagination and entertainment technology. If Nick Turse is right, the ‘Matrix’ may be just around the corner.”—Mike Davis, author of Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb

“When President Eisenhower warned of the dangers to democracy posed by the military-industrial complex, he had no idea how far it would penetrate into every aspect of our everyday lives. In impressive detail, Nick Turse shows how the military is now tied to everything from your morning cup of Starbucks to the video games your kids play before turning in for the night. It's not just political anymore—it’s personal. Turse sounds the alarm bell about the militarization of everyday life. Now it’s up to us to do something about it.”—Bill Hartung, author of How Much Are You Making on the War Daddy?

“Nick Turse’s searing, investigative journalism reveals just how deeply embedded in our lives the war-making system is and why we should be viscerally alarmed. He exposes how, with a growing contingent of corporate/entertainment/academic/media collaborators, the Pentagon has not only garrisoned the globe, but come home to dominate the United States. For anyone interested in understanding the crisis this country is in, The Complex is indispensable reading.”—Dahr Jamail, author of Beyond the Green Zone

“Americans who still think they can free themselves from the clutches of the military-industrial complex need to read this book. For example, the gimmicks the Pentagon uses to deceive, entrap, and sign up gullible 18 to 24 year-olds are anything but voluntary.  Nick Turse has produced a brilliant exposé of the Pentagon’s pervasive influence in our lives.”—Chalmers Johnson, author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic


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Product Details

  • Series: American Empire Project
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; 1st edition (March 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805078967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805078961
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,545,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a former highly paid employee of a the Military Industrial Complex I found this book to be accurate and full of useful information. I have always said if the average American understood the incompetence, waste and corruption that riddles this parallel economy they would refuse to pay their taxes. The information presented in this book bears this out. However, the book is a bit difficult to read as it is so full of data.
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Format: Hardcover
This book begins with a short catalogue of the various products in your cupboard that are made by companies with huge Department of Defense contracts and continues by identifying the Navy technicians who helped design your child's computer games. In between, Nick Turse, an elegant writer, and clearly a fearsome researcher, details the ways the military has insinuated itself into all of our everyday lives -- from the products we buy, the toys our children play with to the institutions that we depend upon. It is a story that begins with President Eisenhower's famous parting words about the dangers posed by the military-industrial complex and continues through the Iraq debacle that we're now living through. This is an important book.
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Format: Hardcover
An important read for all Americans. Well written, with an immense amount of details about, who, what, when and where the money goes. Obviousely a great deal of research went into this book, but it is written in such a way that you don't get bogged down in the details, they become a fluid part of a well told story. Open almost any page, and the documented, outragous spending and corruption, will stare you in the face.
Nick Turse has put together a well documented account of the DoD, tax payer funded, feeding trough, that should alarm every American. At times he shows a flair for the humorous, ( the choices are, laugh or cry )but there is nothing at all funny about this book.
A must read for all elected officials, ( and the press )who are not already well entrenched in the fleecing of America.
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Format: Hardcover
A fantastic book! We have needed a book that rigorously examines our government's spending with regard to the military, and furthermore, how it is entangled in other areas of our lives that we typically (and naively) think of as wholly separate. What thinking person doesn't want to know where his or her money is going?

Which brings me to another point. What has happened to us that we can no longer analyze and question what our government gives to us and demands of us without being labeled "anti" something or other? Anti-military, anti-America, etc. Where is the criticism for anti-thinking? It's disappointing to see reactionary reviews to a book such as this, which sets out to inform us not to lambaste the government in a playground brawl. Why are smart Americans so upset when the system they put money into and live within goes under scrutiny? If a person had a tumor on his leg, would he not seek medical attention because he likes the leg and wants to keep it? Our system is ill, and we have researchers and writers like Mr. Turse to thank for the scrutiny that might help us (begin to) figure out how to save it.

On to the review. I've followed Mr. Turse's work for many years, in The Nation and on TomDispatch, mostly, as well as in the Los Angeles Times. He's a fine researcher and that rare individual who holds his own bar highest. Not only is The Complex a research feat that few of us have the mind, talent, or energy to even attempt, Mr. Turse makes connections between the data he's amassed-the true work of a writer.

Anyone who is shocked to hear of a $640 toilet certainly doesn't remember the Chicago scandal over ten years ago when a government official had used city funds for a $150,000 toilet. Are facts untrue because they are shocking to us?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Complex details the many ways that the military industrial and military entertainment and military - well you get the idea, invade our everyday lives. Frankly, it left me wondering what I could do to boycott industries and companies that have totally sold out to the military complex - would I have to live as a nomad goat herder? Probably - I am typing this review on a machine made by a company that makes huge profits off of the military. A good read.
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Format: Hardcover
On Jan.17, 1961, outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the moral hazard created by the tight relationship between the congress and military, which have the power to wage war, and the corporations who prosper from military escalation.
Eishehower warned that,"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
Eisenhower's speech was delivered over 48 years ago and he would, no doubt, be disappointed in this nation for not heeding his words. Not only has the complex grown in strength and power but it has spread to now include hundreds of corporations, all feeding at the trough of death and destruction.
Turse, who holds a doctorate from Columbia University, writes in straight forward and direct language, laying out the playing field of brands we are all familiar with from the food, entertainment, technology, consulting and other industries that have great incentive to see our military grow and spend.
Finally, Turse gives us a view to where this is all going in terms of advanced weaponry and military tactics to recruit anyone who can draw breath to use as cannon fodder for the US's global adventures.
Take Eisenhower's advice and take a few minutes to make yourself "alert and knowledgeable". A good place to start is by reading Turse's book.
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