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Unwarranted Influence: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Military-Industrial Complex (American Icons)by James Ledbetter
Synopses & Reviews
In Dwight D. Eisenhowerand#8217;s last speech as president, on January 17, 1961, he warned America about the and#8220;military-industrial complex,and#8221; a mutual dependency between the nationand#8217;s industrial base and its military structure that had developed during World War II. After the conflict ended, the nation did not abandon its wartime economy but rather the opposite. Military spending has steadily increased, giving rise to one of the key ideas that continues to shape our countryand#8217;s political landscape.
In this book, published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Eisenhowerand#8217;s farewell address, journalist James Ledbetter shows how the government, military contractors, and the nationand#8217;s overall economy have become inseparable.and#160;Some of the effects are beneficial, such as cell phones, GPS systems, the Internet, and the Hubble Space Telescope, all of which emerged from technologies first developed for the military.and#160;But the military-industrial complex has also provoked agonizing questions. Does our massive military establishmentand#8212;bigger than those of the next ten largest combinedand#8212;really make us safer?and#160;How much of our perception of security threats is driven by the profit-making motives of military contractors?and#160;To what extent is our foreign policy influenced by contractorsand#8217; financial interests?
Ledbetter uncovers the surprising origins and the even more surprising afterlife of the military-industrial complex, an idea that arose as early as the 1930s, and shows how it gained traction during World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam era and continues even today.
"Fifty years after the 34th president delivered his best known address, Ledbetter (Starving to Death on Million) deconstructs the origins of the term 'military-industrial complex' and weighs its contemporary meanings and misinterpretations. Eisenhower, a WWII legend, feared that deepening the relationships between government officials, lawmakers, and weapons producers would ultimately undermine democracy. The president's fears were not new, but Ledbetter makes a convincing case that the 1957 launch of Sputnik by the Soviets cemented the unholy alliance — long before the phrase became popular in the Vietnam era. Ledbetter deftly connects the dots between these two sectors, documenting how military appropriations were linked to job creation projects in congressional districts; how the 'revolving door' for employment between the military and the firms providing weapons to the Defense Department endures; and how government-funded university research activities undermined traditional notions about academic freedom. Ledbetter makes a disturbingly persuasive case that Ike was right. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
About the Author
James Ledbetter is editor of the Big Money, the business website of the Slate Group. His books include Made Possible By . . . and Starving to Death on $200 Million. He is also the editor of The Great Depression: A Diary, by Benjamin Roth.
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