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on September 12, 2015
A well documented, well written, evaluation of the rise of Presidential Power in the U.S.A.; and Congress' failure to do its job. What is new? What is new since the Reagan Administration (back to H. Truman and the Korean Police Action?) is that the Executive Branch of our Government determines when the U.S. will use military force, the amount used, and how it is used. The Constitutional Requirement (where were the Republicans? Oh. Reagan started this trend...that's right.) that only the Congress has the Power to Declare War has been ignored. Combined with changes in the make up of our armed forces (some good, some bad) this has led us to now. Pulled out of Iraq years after we invaded on the same pretext used by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor; still in Afghanistan our longest military action; and dropping guided missiles somewhere today this book explains, lucidly, how the U.S.A. has moved from a citizen army to a country always at war. Recommend you read this. You may also find the author's news program interesting.
22 people found this helpful
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I generally liked "Drift", and was pretty much aware of a lot of the history she discusses beforehand. Rachel Maddow did an excellent job of synthesizing evidence supporting her contention. I was a bit put off by the rising level of snarkiness she layered on to the chapter concerning nuclear weapons. Thankfully, Ms. Maddow returned to her more reasoned style for the epilogue, finishing on a strong note.

As a soldier who served from 1974 to 1997, and then again from 2008 to the present in both active duty and reservist status, I've seen first-hand a number of the military "adventures" and foibles described in "Drift". I agree with most of her assertions, especially concerning the overwhelming use of contractors. I disagree with her point that Reserves and National Guard shouldn't be used for disaster response...heck, that's one of the National Guard's primary reasons for being, and they are an essential state resource when the "guacamole hits the fan", like during Hurricane Katrina.

All in all, "Drift" is essential reading for anyone who is unaware of how our armed forces have been misused and over-extended since the late 1950s. As other reviewers have noted, it's a pretty evenhanded treatise, skewering Democrats and Republicans alike, and it is indeed based on fact, not urban legend nor revisionist history.
34 people found this helpful
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on April 2, 2017
Brilliant. Full of wit and, of course, the horror of war and the great mutant amoeba that the military, the war machine has become. . .and how insidiously it has taken over our lives. A good discovery of the intent of the separation of powers in the Constitution that have been overrun by intricate, double entendre legal language that we now all accept. . .and we shouldn't. The ineptness, the inadequacy and the greed--in the name of repair--of the military is very clearly evidenced here. The belief that war is right and the answer to everything is here. The obsessed and delusional presidents are here, too. Presidents and, even more so, their advisors. A real eye opener--even for cynical me!
6 people found this helpful
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on January 15, 2018
This book should be required reading in ALL political science classes, all military academies, by all members of Congress and by any citizen who wants to know more than what our government is telling us. And I mean also that this should be read by both liberals and conservatives. This is a cry in the wilderness for using our military as it was originally meant to be used; to rethink our nuclear policy- do we really need thousands of nukes to fulfil our security needs.- which won't exist if they are ever used. This is an insightful book explaining how our military is being used, how America has become desensitized to the localized wars fought by not only our military but by private contractors paid for by the U.S. government and it gives profound examples of the dangerous state of our nuclear stockpile. This is a fascinating book- especially interesting is the way presidents have been able to bypass Congress when it comes to waging war, the role of private military companies and the CIA in fighting wars and the fact that neither the National Guard nor the Reserves were meant to be our "go to soldiers" for our wars. This is an extremely well researched and well thought out book with an easy-to-read style and incredibly informative. This is a must read for anyone who wants to be an informed citizen and who believes that going to war should not be an easy choice.
3 people found this helpful
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on June 15, 2017
A whirlwind tour through the last 60-ish years (plus a necessary grounding in the founding fathers, how they viewed war with wariness, and how the Constitution reflected this) and how America at war has morphed, and not for the better. Most likely to appeal to those who are generally in line with Maddow's political views, but even for others, she makes her points well and some of the conclusions should (rationally) be bipartisan. The strength of the book is Maddow's fast-paced and pithy delivery, her use of many primary and secondary sources, and the highlighting of the worst weaknesses of how we currently engage in war (largely hidden from the public, without the nation really feeling it, with ever-increasing budgets that cannot be second guessed without accusations of being unpatriotic). The weakness of the book dovetails with one of its strengths - the pithiness. Sometimes it is a bit too glib and a bit too sarcastic, in such a way that will grate on those who are ideologically further away from Maddow. This can be a disservice as it could make some very good information and some convincing points easier to ignore. All in all, though, informative and worth the time.
3 people found this helpful
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on August 8, 2017
As a veteran, I expected Rachel Maddow to "miss the point" of war. She didn't. In fact, she truly captures the Catch-22 imbecility of glory-hounds, the political leaders and commanders who decide that "we must secure our nation!" without ever setting foot on a front line. Her central premise is dead-on: - America's military is no longer anchored to economic realities of America, and the civilian electorate no longer feels or understands the pain experienced by our personnel in uniform. I highly recommend this book.
6 people found this helpful
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on May 3, 2017
If you're a Maddow viewer... well... her writing is exactly the same style as her show segments.

Make a point and then rephrase it at least two more times for emphasis. And very often it is attention grabbing, effective communication... but sometimes "get-on-with-it" irritating.

In writing it just slows you down by making it impossible to disconnect the internal vocalization... her voice inside your head. It's the strongest connection since I read Shelby Foote's excellent Civil War trilogy after seeing his segments in the Ken Burns' documentary. But where I finally surrendered to Shelby's s l o w... s o u t h e r n... d r a w l.... for over a thousand pages... I found myself fighting Rachel's narration in my head.

Content? Well it's strong and far from the full blown anti-war/pease-nik rhetoric you might expect from a "lefty icon". More the case against stupid wars/fights that we are thrust into "by people with no skin in the game who extol the virtues of our fighting forces while abusing the #@&% out of them" than "peace at any cost".

Read and donated to my local library...
10 people found this helpful
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on November 29, 2013
Rachel seems to have invested a good bit of academic research into the publicized and not so publicized events which have continued the long trend identified and warned against by General Eisenhower in his famous farewell speech, where he admonished us to "Beware of the Military Industrial Complex." Personally the weakest portions of her book are the omissions which would have rounded it out by taking things back to more "core" sources of ongoing influence and power like the alumni associations associated with our military academies that held so much sway over economics and policy running up to both the first and second world wars. We now have a "permanent military class" on a par with and evolved way past the one which was exploited by Hitler and the Nazis in the era running up to WW II. While Rachel does not make the bold sociological cliam I just made, her coverage of the events and political struggles since Vietnam and the abolition of the draft, another watershed event she ignores, in terms of being a contributory factor of significant weight, her detailed analysis and insights into the 1980-2000 sweep of events which eliminated congressional budgetary discipline and control/oversight over our military spending and exercise of power is detailed, insightful, and spot on.
8 people found this helpful
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on August 19, 2015
Whatever your political leaning may be, DRIFT by Rachel Maddow is worth the read. What Ms. Maddow has achieved with this effort is indeed laudable. While those to the right of center may be inclined to shy away from this book because of Rachel Maddow's personal political leanings and her efforts as a news commentator on MSNBC-TV, one would be doing a disservice to the book and the author. Written with no evident political bias, DRIFT examines the military societal changes which have occurred in the United States since its founding. Ms. Maddow presents a very good case for this country's unfortunate transfiguration from a civilian based society to, what President Dwight Eisenhower hauntingly predicted; a "military industrial complex."
5 people found this helpful
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on April 27, 2012
This book is basically about the old Eisenhower warning: Beware the "Military-Industrial-Complex", and how a gradual modification of constitutional safe guards fed and cared for the monster, so that it grew. Whether intentionally (War is profitable for the provider - as G. B. Shaw inferred over a century ago), or just by taking the easiest path, we have drifted into the present situation where American wars have become a consistent part of our culture - hence the title: Drift.

War is not a happy topic; it makes us sad and mad (as well as angry). So I hesitated to read this book. Having lived through WW2, then Korea, Viet Nam, Grenada, Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan again, I thought to have had sufficient exposure to war history via the news. However, as a fan of Rachel Maddow's news program, I decided to give it a try. It was so worth it. I was astounded at the amount of research and detail she supplied. I learned much more about all the things I thought I knew, and was able to see much better how we got to our present situation. It was not an all happy read - the part about our aging and still massive nuclear "deterrent" is positively frightening - , and it did make me angry! But even in the most frustrating parts, Rachel's characteristic wry humor (trademark of her popular news show) shone though and made it a tolerable and even enjoyable read.

Maddow takes us though this progressively growing government- military mess - supported by a chapter-by-chapter set of references (listed at the end). However, she does not just leave it there, as I had feared she would. Instead she actually creates a list of how to begin to fix things and eventually reverse the process. The steps are very reasonable and most likely would work if given a chance - this still is a democracy, so things still can be changed once we understand the situation. I certainly would recommend this book to anyone. It accomplished well the tricky task of bringing us a sour situation with enough sweetening to "make the medicine go down".
8 people found this helpful
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