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Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire Hardcover – May 12, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
To consider Wolfowitz and Perle as RANDites is absurd. C Rice came a bit closer, but not much. Rumsfeld was on the Board but only on the Board, and that was a long time ago.
There was never a fist fight in any manangement meeting. Shapley (a member of the National Academy of Science) and Belman were mathemeticians, not an economist and a physicist. The correct decription of RAND by Pravda was The Academy of Death and Destruction. These are minor errors and are perhaps to be expected in any book. It always is a plus, however, for authors to do their homwork.
The author makes RAND look like a group of wild eyed hawks bent on death and destruction without a thought for human lives or social consequences.. An assemblage of Dr Strangeloves. To imply that ethics and morals was a luxury that the researchers couldn't afford or chose not to address is an insult to the vast majority of RAND researchers.
My guess is that most of the real RANDites will gasp in horror at what is portrayed of the organization. Yes, a great deal of emphasis was on the cold war and how to fight it, but also how to avoid it. To imply that our current policy in the Middle East is a direct result of RAND is another absurdity. There may be many who have taken what they wish to further from some of the studies performed at RAND, but there are different interpretations and indeed different studies to the contrary.Read more ›
It's a relief that for most of the book Abella just presents history -- story after story of all the players and their deeds (and more important, their incredibly influential ideas). It's also a relief that at the end Abella sums up the achievements and failings of RAND's systems analysis and approach to problems by stating: "the problem with rational choice theory is that it is not rational. It fails to comprehend the world as it is..." Exactly. One need look no further than Viet Nam (or Iraq!) for proof.
A very good secret history of American foreign policy during and after the Cold War.
Coincidentally, a high school friend had been the son of RAND researcher Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame. The cousin of someone I know worked for RAND after leaving the CIA. The girlfriend of another cousin of someone I know worked at RAND while on leave from the State Department. When I saw the book in the bookstore, I realized that I had known practically nothing about the "mother of all think-tanks." From the book I found out that the Hudson Institute was a bastard child of RAND, set up after Herman Kahn left the mother ship. The Albert Wohlstetter room at AEI is named after a RAND guru. And almost everyone who is anyone in Washington these days--especially the architects of America's Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires--seem to have some sort of RAND connection.
Yet so far as I know, there had been no book about RAND, until this. It explained a great deal, and I recommend it highly. It is about the possibilities--and limits--of operations research and systems analysis. Reading "Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire" helped me better understand the sudden and tragic death of my friend...
Must reading for anyone interested in the ways of Washington, or what President Eisenhower (apparently with RAND in mind) called "the military-industrial complex."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The definitive book to the date of publication on the RAND corporation.Published 16 months ago by Donna Mariash
The RAND corporation is probably one of the most influential corporations since the end of WWII, yet so few people inside or outside of America have heard about it. Read morePublished on August 13, 2013 by Newton Ooi
Good book to read if you have the time to I work to much if their was a audio book would be betterPublished on March 24, 2013 by Nate
Facinating read. Fun to go back in time and read about the early architects of our current day policies and world vision. Read morePublished on March 13, 2012 by Pete
_Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of American Empire_ (2009) by Alex Abella is a journalistic examination of the history of the RAND Corporation, an important... Read morePublished on May 12, 2011 by New Age of Barbarism
I have a background in RAND Corp. I read this book cover to cover in a few days I was disapointed with book in a whole.It did not tell the real history of the Rand Corp. Read morePublished on December 13, 2010 by Amazon Customer
This is the fascinating story of a big "Think Tank" How to retain top scientists after the war? Is the bomb cheaper and better to use then massive amount of soldiers? Read morePublished on February 17, 2010 by zz top
Soldiers of Reason is an outstanding, significant book. It demystifies the enigmatic Rand Corporation think tank, which helped put America under the spell of the... Read morePublished on December 8, 2009 by Seadog
Abella has written a layman's view of how Rand was created and evolved. The book tells the story by focusing on many of the company's key figures and the roles Abella believes... Read morePublished on September 21, 2009 by R. W. Levesque