Synopses & Reviews
From the National Book Award-winning author of An American Requiem
and Constantine's Sword
comes a sweeping yet intimate look at the Pentagon and its vast often hidden impact on America.
This landmark, myth-shattering work chronicles the most powerful institution in America, the people who created it, and the pathologies it has spawned. James Carroll proves a controversial thesis: the Pentagon has, since its founding, operated beyond the control of any force in government or society. It is the biggest, loosest cannon in American history, and no institution has changed this country more. To argue his case, he marshals a trove of often chilling evidence. He recounts how the Building and its denizens achieved what Eisenhower called a disastrous rise of misplaced power from the unprecedented aerial bombing of Germany and Japan during World War II to the shock and awe of Iraq. He charts the colossal U.S. nuclear buildup, which far outpaced that of the USSR, and has outlived it. He reveals how consistently the Building has found new enemies just as old threats and funding evaporate. He demonstrates how Pentagon policy brought about U.S. indifference to an epidemic of genocide during the 1990s. And he shows how the forces that attacked the Pentagon on 9/11 were set in motion exactly sixty years earlier, on September 11, 1941, when ground was broken for the house of war.
Carroll draws on rich personal experience (his father was a top Pentagon official for more than twenty years) as well as exhaustive research and dozens of extensive interviews with Washington insiders. The result is a grand yet intimate work of history, unashamedly polemical and personal butunerringly factual. With a breadth and focus that no other book could muster, it explains what America has become over the past sixty years.
"Certain to be one of the most-talked-about nonfiction books of the season." Booklist
"With such broad and controversial claims, Carroll's theses will be disputed, yet his argument is well documented and persuasively made." Library Journal
"Among the most important works of history produced in the past few years....What distinguishes Carroll's book is not just this blending of the personal and the institutional...but also Carroll's willingness to ask basic moral questions that almost never get asked." San Francisco Chronicle
"[A]s a personal and deeply felt plea for a saner, sensible approach to preserving the future, House of War is a remarkable piece of writing and scholarship." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"The Pentagon is a metaphor more than a subject, explored most convincingly when Mr. Carroll describes his personal relationship to it." New York Times
"House of War will draw fire from right wing hacks and shills in the media, for it is a passionately persuasive, thoroughly researched indictment of this nation's defense and foreign policy since World War II." Miami Herald
"The Pentagon is the largest building in the United States....James Carroll...has taken that symbolic image of the building through a meticulous examination of fact and anecdote to develop a history that can serve us well as a teaching tool for the future." Rocky Mountain News
"What makes this a compelling read is the way [Carroll] weaves in the power of the Pentagon over his family, as well as the cast of personalities who thought they could control it during their stints there." Christian Science Monitor
In House of War, the best-selling author James Carroll has created a history of the Pentagon that is both epic and personal. Through Carroll we see how the Pentagon, since its founding, has operated beyond the control of any force in government or society, undermining the very national security it is sworn to protect.From its "birth" on September 11, 1941, through the nuclear buildup of the Cold War and the eventual "shock and awe" of Iraq, Carroll recounts how "the Building" and its officials have achieved what President Eisenhower called "a disastrous rise of misplaced power."
This is not faded history. House of War offers a compelling account of the virtues and follies that led America to permanently, and tragically, define itself around war. Carroll shows how the consequences of the American response to September 11, 2001 -and#150; including two wars and an ignited Middle East -and#150; form one end of an arc that stretches from Donald Rumsfeld back to James Forrestal, the first man to occupy the office of secretary of defense in the Pentagon. House of War confronts this dark past so we may understand the current war and forestall the next.
About the Author
Carroll writes a widely discussed weekly op-ed column for the Boston Globe.
Table of Contents
Prologue and#149; xi The Invisible Boy
One: ONE WEEK IN 1943 and#149; 1 Helland#8217;s Bottom. Unconditional Surrender. Operation Pointblank. LeMay.
The Whiz Kid. Leslie Groves Does It All. The Other September 11s
Two: THE ABSOLUTE WEAPON and#149; 40 Trumanand#8217;s and#147;Decision.and#8221; Stimsonand#8217;s Defense. Not Japan, but Moscow?
Atomic Forgetfulness. Grovesand#8217;s Toboggan. The Second Coming in Wrath.
The Hamburg Threshold. After Dresden. The Babe Ruth of Bombers.
Born in Original Sin
Three: THE COLD WAR BEGINS and#149; 103 Tendered a Commission. Stimsonand#8217;s September 11. Forrestal Agonistes.
Kennanand#8217;s Mistake. Foundational Paranoia.War Inside the Pentagon.
Blockade and the Birth of the Air Force. The Russians Are Coming.
Navy Versus Air Force. That Cop
Four: SELF-FULFILLING PARANOIA and#149; 161 Stalinand#8217;s Teeth. No to the Hydrogen Bomb. Nitze to the Rescue. Forrestaland#8217;s Ghost: NSC-68. Korea Saved Us. Trumanand#8217;s Other Decision. The Test. Duck and Cover.Massive Retaliation. The Missed Opportunity. Defense Intellectuals. Operation Top Hat. The Gaither Report: Nitze Again
Five: THE TURNING POINT and#149; 227 Life of the Pentagon. A Lark in Berlin. There Will Be War. Head to Richmond. Let Both Sides. The Need for New Intelligence.McNamara and LeMay. All-Out Spasm Attack. The Kaysen Memos. Edge of the Abyss. At American University.Why We Love Him
Six: THE EXORCISM and#149; 293 Present at the Destruction. LeMay to the Absurd. Errors of the Mind.
Great White Whale.McNamaraand#8217;s Endgame. From Disarmament to Arms Control. The Berrigan Brothers. Enter the ABM, Reenter Nitze. Nixon and Laird. Knockout Blow. Bombing the Pentagon? Not with a Bang
Seven: UPSTREAM and#149; 345 Nuclear Priesthood. The Madman Theory. The Schlesinger Doctrine.
Enter Rumsfeld and Cheney. Jimmy Carterand#8217;s Question. The Frozen Smile. The People Are Heard. Be Not Afraid.We Win, You Lose, Sign Here. The Freeze. The Abolitionist. Sanctuary. Enter Gorbachev.
Answer to Forrestal
Eight: UNENDING WAR and#149; 418 Into Plowshares. Back to Stimson. Operation Just Cause. Fooland#8217;s Game.
New World Order. The Chinese Word. Goldwater-Nichols. The Immigrantand#8217;s Son. Clintonand#8217;s Honor. Gays in the Military. The Real Contrast with Truman. The Nuclear Posture Review. The Balkan Wars.
Apostolic Succession. September 11, 2001
Epilogue: NEW WORLD ORDER and#149; 491 National Memory. The Normalization of War. Instant Replay. National Security? Revenge. I Have a Dream
Acknowledgments and#149; 515 Notes and#149; 518 Bibliography and#149; 609 Index and#149; 623