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"One of my favorite ideas is, never to keep an unnecessary soldier," Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1792. Neither Jefferson nor the other Founders could ever have envisioned the modern national security state, with its tens of thousands of "privateers"; its bloated Department of Homeland Security; its rusting nuclear weapons, ill-maintained and difficult to dismantle; and its strange fascination with an unproven counterinsurgency doctrine.
Written with bracing wit and intelligence, Rachel Maddow's Drift argues that we've drifted away from America's original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war, with all the financial and human costs that entails. To understand how we've arrived at such a dangerous place, Maddow takes us from the Vietnam War to today's war in Afghanistan, along the way exploring the disturbing rise of executive authority, the gradual outsourcing of our war-making capabilities to private companies, the plummeting percentage of American families whose children fight our constant wars for us, and even the changing fortunes of G.I. Joe. She offers up a fresh, unsparing appraisal of Reagan's radical presidency. Ultimately, she shows us just how much we stand to lose by allowing the priorities of the national security state to overpower our political discourse.
Sensible yet provocative, dead serious yet seriously funny, Drift will reinvigorate a "loud and jangly" political debate about how, when, and where to apply America's strength and power--and who gets to make those decisions.
Praise for Drift:
"In her hard-hitting debut, popular MSNBC host Maddow examines how the country has lost control of its national-security policy...[Written with] humor and verve."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Scathing...The author presents sharp, well-supported analyses...spicing them with a caustic wit...Incisive."
"An insightful look at the cost of military vigilance to ideals of democracy."
"Maddow wears her expertise lightly, counterbalancing hard details with phrases (e.g., “the lemons-into-lemonade-moment” or “the sliding-off-the-aircraft-carrier-thing”) that keep her narrative invigorating...Highly recommended to all readers engaged in the world today and with how we got here."
--Library Journal (starred)
"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