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Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power Paperback – March 5, 2013
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"The Best 'Worst President'" by Mark Hannah and Bob Staake
A noted political commentator and renowned New Yorker illustrator team up to give Barack Obama the victory lap he deserves. Learn more
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One of the Washington Post’s 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction for 2012
One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Nonfiction Books of 2012
“Thank Ms. Maddow for picking this and every other fight that Drift provokes. It will be a smarter public debate than the kinds we're used to.”
—Janet Maslin, New York Times
“A biting, bracing tour of the rise of American military bloat...Her fix-it ideas aren't facile or smiley-faced. They are a coda to the serious project she's taken on--a project that both plays to her persona and gives it new gravitas...Rachel, if you can get those ideas a serious hearing, you will be much more than TV's funniest wonk.”
—Emily Bazelon, Slate.com
“Maddow’s distinctive voice in Drift is highly intelligent, often incredulous and intermittently and humorously profane...Her thesis, which is passionately and effectively articulated, remind[s] us of how far we have drifted from linking the sacrifices of our armed forces around the world to the citizens at home they so selflessly serve… Maddow…[has] provided readers with a timely and perhaps necessary provocation to examine the far-reaching consequences of the American way of war.”
—Gordon M. Goldstein, Washington Post
“Crosses partisan lines and deals with issues that deserve a healthy debate...A compelling, intelligent read filled with Maddow's trademark wit.”
—Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times
“Even though she's an ideological broadcaster, Maddow doesn't resort to demonization and hyperbole. It makes her case much stronger.”
—Conor Friedersdorf, TheAtlantic.com
“Lively but serious...This book is a reminder that before Maddow became a face on nighttime television, she was a Rhodes scholar who earned a doctorate in politics at Oxford. But Drift is not heavy reading, and her cheerfully snarky voice is instantly recognizable...A thought-provoking and timely book.”
—Scott Shane, New York Times Book Review
—Catherine Lutz, San Francisco Chronicle
“Provocative...Asks fundamental questions about the process by which the U.S. now goes to war that pretty much never get asked by the media.”
“Thoroughly researched...Written in her signature broadcast style--provocative, satirical, passionate-bordering-on-outrage...Progressive fans of her show may already know what to expect. Yet the book still surprises.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Recommended reading...There's a deadly serious argument here that deserves way more attention than it gets.”
—Kevin Drum, MotherJones.com
“Engaging but sobering...With the same kind of substance, wit and charge that make her TV show a top-rated Emmy winner, Maddow details how dubious wars, the exploding "privatization" of the military and a superfunded, superpowered security leviathan have drained our resources...Sometimes it takes a gutsy, determined woman--a Nellie Bly, Rachel Carson, Ida Tarbell, Elizabeth Neuffer, Molly Ivins or Rachel Maddow--to hang a literary lantern on a revolting situation.”
“Drift is infused with Maddow’s sharp wit and her vast political knowledge. She dexterously reveals how we became the nation that spends more money on militarism then all other nations combined...“The path to American amnesia is worth recalling on this Memorial Day,” wrote Tom Englehardt. If you want to jog your memory, I encourage you to dive into Maddow’s brilliant testament to remembering.”
“Drift is a provocative, important book that displays all the qualities of its author: intelligence, humor, depth, and originality. Maddow raises vital questions about how the American ways of war have changed and endangered our democracy, but she does so without cant or predictability. America’s most charismatic liberal has crafted here an argument for skepticism about our military-industrial complex that will persuade many conservatives--a remarkable achievement.”
—STEVE COLL, author of Ghost Wars
“With her savage wit, dazzling command of facts, and eye for the absurd, Maddow tells the epic story of how American warfare came to be both never-ending and practically invisible. In the process, she revives a radically old-fashioned idea: waging war should be wrenchingly difficult for a nation, for that is what prevents unnecessary battles from being waged. This courageous book deserves to spark a national debate about the purpose of war.”
—NAOMI KLEIN, author of The Shock Doctrine
“In Drift, Rachel Maddow brings her passion, wit, cool common sense and intellectual firepower to the epic and darkly farcical story of how America has declined into an overfunded and unchecked national security state--one that inflicts more damage on America’s assets, our military included, than it does on our adversaries. At a crossroads when Americans of all stripes are rethinking their country’s priorities, Maddow’s compelling take on how we drifted into the costly habit of perennial war--and how we might yet reverse it--could not be more timely.”
—FRANK RICH, writer-at-large, New York magazine
“Here's this conservative's assessment of Rachel Maddow's Drift: It's scathingly funny, deeply insightful, and informed throughout by a deep and abiding sense of patriotism. Bravo, Rachel!”
—ANDREW J. BACEVICH, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War
“Written with the flair for scintillating satire that has endeared Rachel Maddow to liberals and moderates alike--and infuriated neo-conservatives, evangelicals, and some tea partiers--Drift is funny, rich, and right. But at its end, when you put it down, you will be troubled. We are losing our republic and Ms. Maddow tells you why.”
—LAWRENCE WILKERSON, Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell
“America is in urgent need of a real debate over its addiction to sprawling militarism and endless war. It affects, and degrades, every aspect of national life: political, cultural, and economic. Nobody is better positioned to trigger that debate than Rachel Maddow, and that's exactly what she does in this startlingly insightful and well-written book. By stripping away the propaganda that distorts national security policy and laying bare its reality, Maddow has written one of those rare political books that can transform Americans' understanding of what their government is actually doing.”
—GLENN GREENWALD, columnist for Salon and author of Liberty and Justice for Some
“Rachel Maddow's Drift is a long overdue and provocative examination of the abuses, excesses and just plain foolish elements in our national security systems. These are issues that deserve our attention.”
—TOM BROKAW, NBC News Special Correspondent and best-selling author of The Greatest Generation
“Drift never makes the case that war might be necessary. America would be weakened dramatically if we had underreacted to 9/11. However, Rachel Maddow makes valid arguments that our country has been drifting towards questionable wars, draining our resources, without sufficient input and time. People who like Rachel will love the book. People who don’t will get angry, but aggressive debate is good for America. Drift is a book worth reading.”
—ROGER AILES, Chairman and CEO, FOX News
“Drift is a serious and carefully-conceived piece of investigative reporting, illuminating a subject--the vast and mostly secret militarization of our society--that most Americans have no idea of, thanks in large part to the failure of many high-profile journalists to discuss it. Rachel has once again broken the mold and she should be immensely proud of this book, which is written in the same bright, clear, engaging style she brings to broadcast television.”
—MATT TAIBBI, author of Griftopia
“In Drift, people who love Rachel Maddow will discover that her gift for finding amazing anecdotes and funny, revealing details totally translates to the page. People who hate her may be surprised by how often in Drift she espouses some of the most conservative values: a suspicion of big government and unbridled federal power, a zeal to cut wasteful spending and a yearning to return to the intentions of the Founding Fathers.”
—IRA GLASS, host of public radio’s “This American Life”
“Brilliant book. Drift will stun Americans with its portrait of a hyperventilating United States that has produced too many real live Dr. Strangelove moments. Drawing from thoughtful, national interest-driven conservatives and not just the liberal establishment, Maddow makes the case that what ought to be a strong nation is instead risking shipwreck, by letting war and military matters escape real political and economic gravitational forces. Every page informs and angers at the same time.”
—STEVE CLEMONS, Washington editor-at-large, The Atlantic
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This is a terrific book. I believe that Ms. Maddow has done a remarkable job of defending her argument. I saw her on Meet The Press and she said she saved this topic for a book because it required "a long argument". Reading her long argument felt like being on an island of common sense in a vast ocean of madness.
This book is not partisan although many will see it that way. She reserves as much criticism for Obama's secret wars as she does those of other presidents. The bulk of the early part of the book is about Reagan's secret wars and the Iran-Contra scandal and then she traverses the next couple of decades, including the last decade of seemingly endless wars in the Middle East, and ends with Obama's secret CIA drone wars. Her wit is very sarcastic and scathing at times, but this can be overlooked as one considers the actual content of her arguments. I'm sure that to people who don't agree with her will find this part of her writing to be off-putting, but we can all be bigger than that. There is substance in this book and the substance is what should be considered. The tone is just part of being a passionate human and actually gives the writing some character and humor.
She calls the military superstructure we have built a leviathan.Read more ›
Maddow has written a concise guide about the war economy and mentality our country has fallen into - a mentality that seems to infect every president the moment he enters the White House. At least since Wilson, we have been in virtually continuous war, originally with the excuse of democratizing the world. Some of these squirmishes have protected American corporations in various countries. At times we took sides with democratic regimes and other times we sided with more totalitarian groups (See "America's Mission" by Tony Smith. It chronicles the wars each president has engaged in since Wilson).
More recently, as Maddow describes, the privatization craze has extended to the war business. We have been involved in little undeclared wars that we have rarely even heard about. We spend more money on our military than the next umpteen countries combined. Our brave all volunteer recruits constitute an ever diminishing segment of our population and the recent wars have exacted a tremendous toll on them and their families. We support a huge war industry that demands to be fed and buys off our elected representatives.Read more ›
The author does a very good job of showing how the military drifted to what it is now where civilians don't feel the burden of war because the President (all recent modern Presidents, not just Obama) shield us from the loss of lives, the separations that military families go through, and the heartache of war because it's bad PR (among many other reasons, not just what I've mentioned). And if only a small percentage of American's have to feel that burden and the whole country isn't involved like it was in WWII, than the population is more allowing of the decade long mess that we are still involved in today, or recently with Iraq.
I learned so much from this book on complaints I had while I was in the service, like why are contractors doing the work that we can do ourselves? This complaint was shared with many of my co-workers. Some contractors were doing the exact same job that somebody in the military was doing with double the paycheck. This book tells us why it came to be that way.
I can't recommend this book enough for anybody currently serving in the military. It is very unbiased, very informing, and only through awareness can better decisions be made.
This is an issue that none other than the illustrious solid Five Star Republican General, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about in his Farwell Address more than a half century ago. The reader may recall that in one of Ike's most solemn speeches as he was leaving office, he said in part that:
" ... In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial 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."
The author of this book takes a politically balanced point of view, since it is clearly the case that all sides of the political spectrum have been caught "slopping" at the same government trough.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
READ THIS BOOK! You need to know what is happening in our country. Rachel Maddow is a brilliant writer.
Buy it from Amazon.
Great! Disturbing. Scary. Required reading for everyone lives in this country. We don't know what's going on, what we do know is wrong, and if anything we know happens to be right,... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Douglas A. Puryear
An excellent summary of how we got to where we are as a nation. Unfortunately, it looks as if it is going to take us a while to get ourselves back on track. Read morePublished 9 days ago by R. Guthrie
Interesting cause and effect of changes in Washington's use of the military and misuse of the Constitution. Everyone should read thisPublished 24 days ago by Christopher Gamble
Another4 must read for those under 50 w/o the proper background ---some of this was not taught us in public schools folks! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Melissa E. Rose
Again, bias. Intolerant of other points of view. Bigoted and discriminatory.Published 1 month ago by Bill
I'm a big fan of Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC but just read this book for the first time. The complexity of the subject is something I had not previously understood. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Rachel Maddow has written an insightful, direct, often times with an incredulous but humorous tone of the shenanigans of past Presidents in the politics of war. Read morePublished 2 months ago by DogIsGood