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Star Spangled Security: Applying Lessons Learned over Six Decades Safeguarding America Hardcover – October 4, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"From the government of science to the science of government, Harold Brown has always put his country and its principles first. This book, like his counsel to me as my secretary of defense, offers keen insight into how to ensure national security in a turbulent world. He offers practical ways to redress the widening inequalities in our society and to revive our economy. Harold helped to maintain a strong nation at peace while in office, and here we can benefit again from his wisdom―along with unusual stories of political personalities that make delightful reading. The reader will understand within a few pages why I awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom"―President Jimmy Carter

"Harold Brown is the most unique of statesmen: a scientist, a Cold War warrior, and a secretary of defense under President Carter whose intimate knowledge of our nuclear deterrent was matched only by his clear-eyed patriotism. Star Spangled Security is a fascinating and rewarding look at the last sixty years of American defense and diplomacy"―President Bill Clinton

" Star Spangled Security is part memoir, part history, and part guide to contemporary issues in world affairs. Harold Brown's wisdom shines through on every page of the clearly written text. A brilliant study of high-level decisionmaking, the book provides insights on every aspect of security while blending compelling historical portraits with thoughtful and often passionate advice for the future."―Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

"Harold Brown has played an indispensable role in American policymaking and thinking about nuclear issues for the entire nuclear age. At once scientist and policymaker, academic and handson operator, he distills his experiences and offers a roadmap in this thoughtful and very readable book. It deserves widespread attention"―Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

"I covered Harold Brown and have been waiting thirty years for this book and all it delivers. There is surely no one else who knows as much about national security, who could hold his own arguing thermonuclear warhead design with Edward Teller and whose talent for one-liners skewers complex problems. He's mellowed over time, but fortunately not a lot. His journey from wunderkind to wise man shows―from his pessimism about Afghanistan ('technology cannot overcome corrupt governments')―to his apprehension about China ('getting to 2030 without a frightening confrontation will be a major achievement')."―David Martin, CBS News Correspondent

About the Author

Harold Brown was the U.S. secretary of defense from 1977 to 1981. His unique, ongoing career spans science, academia, government, and the corporate sector over ten presidencies. He is currently trustee emeritus of the RAND Corporation and a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Joyce Winslow is a Washington journalist, op-ed editor, and a prize-winning fiction author in The Best American Short Story collection


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (October 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815723822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815723820
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,035,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Lovida H. Coleman, Jr. on November 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Former Secretary of Defense and Caltech President Harold Brown has written the perfect primer on how government should work, drawing on six decades of experience. Every freshman congressman and college student should read this crisply written book. (250 pages) The threat of nuclear war and real risk of mutual destruction has disappeared from our daily newspapers and is virtually unknown to a generation of Americans. Brown vividly reminds us here. The importance of technology in winning the Cold War and, today, keeping America the world's leading economic power is brilliantly explicated by Brown, who was trained as a physicist. He regrets the loss of civility in Washington and, even more so, the dearth of foreign policy and technology expertise in Congress.

He identifies unstable governments in Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea as significant, but manageable, threats to our interests.

Brown makes a number of recommendations, including creating an independent government entity that would forge partnerships with academia and the private sector to develop cutting edge technology. He reminds us that we have not yet finished the task of disarmament among the super powers or instituting reliable assurances against nuclear proliferation. (A good discussion on Iran.) Like most of our doyens, he insists that we improve secondary education. He urges that we invest in infrastructure.

Brown shares interesting profiles of a number of people that provide a human interest element to his narrative.

While there is a wealth of defense policy material, there is much more. The best summary is in his own words,"[O]ur country needs a quiet and firm strength based on adequate armed forces, solid and determined leadership, and cohesion among our people."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fmr. Sec. Brown writes a first rate memoir covering what he has learned after six decades of trying to keep this country safe. Specifically it provides his perspective why the noble goal of a more cost effective military can be at odds with the powers vested in locally elected politicians. Very few books offer as much chronology spanning the Manhattan Project to Stealth and SDI. He does a good job of articulating how his views overlap then diverge from Edward Teller at LLNL. Despite being the smartest guy in the room, he seems remarkably humble in the way he converses. It is no wonder so many presidents have sought his advice.

If I had only one extra wish, I would wished for a deeper analysis of the Desert One situation offered more specifics on what could have been improved. The recommendations are at a high level like more joint rehearsals. I thought the thinking could been a bit more critical of assumptions at confronting a false dilemma in a launch the mission without adequate rehearsal because the rehearsal might be discovered. In hindsight, the decision to launch the raid without reviewing the end-to-end rehearsal should be a warning to any future decision makers to read the absence of test results to assume any complex integration starts with failure before hard work can make it a success. This book can be read in combination with others to get a broader view on how civilian leadership, uniformed military commanders and contractors share responsibilities at every level.

Overall, the book remains an excellent one that I highly recommend.
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