Synopses & Reviews
"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.
"A bloated, secretive, lawless national security state is pilloried in this scathing but shallow critique of America's post-Vietnam defense policies. MSNBC talk-show host Maddow recaps milestones in a decadeslong process of giving presidents dangerously convenient and unaccountable war-making powers: the Reagan administration's gigantic military buildup, Iran-Contra illegalities, and assertions of executive privilege; the supplanting of soldiers with private contractors under Clinton and Bush fils; the growth of the CIA's secret drone air force; the many invasions, from Grenada to Iraq, launched by commanders-in-chief without constitutional authority. The author presents sharp, well-supported analyses of these episodes, spicing them with a caustic wit that skewers everything from Army recruitment ads to the Air Force's habit of accidentally dropping or misplacing its nuclear warheads. She's less cogent in blaming America's adventurism on the neglect of the Constitution's requirement that Congress declare war (many inane conflicts, like the Spanish-American War, passed that hurdle) and the lapse of the tradition of calling up the citizen-soldiers of the Reserves and National Guard, which she believes puts a brake on war-mongering (although the Iraq War call-up, she allows, had no such effect). Maddow's incisive look at the follies of militarism needs a deeper understanding of why America has so often embraced it. Agent: Laurie Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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 Review)
"An insightful look at the cost of military vigilance to ideals of democracy." Booklist (Starred Review)
"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 Review)
"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
"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
"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
"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"
About the Author
Rachel Maddow has hosted the Emmy Award-winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC since 2008. Before that, she was at Air America Radio for the duration of that underappreciated enterprise. She has a doctorate in politics from Oxford and a bachelor's degree in public policy from Stanford. She lives in rural western Massachusetts and New York City with her partner, artist Susan Mikula, and an enormous dog.