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Extended Audio Sample Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State Audiobook, by Garry Wills Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.83 out of 53.83 out of 53.83 out of 53.83 out of 53.83 out of 5 3.83 (6 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Garry Wills Narrator: Stephen Hoye Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2010 ISBN: 9781400185085
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In Bomb Power, Garry Wills reveals how the atomic bomb transformed our nation down to its deepest constitutional roots—by dramatically increasing the power of the modern presidency and redefining the government as a national security state—in ways still felt today. A masterful reckoning from one of America’s preeminent historians, Bomb Power draws a direct line from the Manhattan Project to the usurpations of George W. Bush.

The invention of the atomic bomb was a triumph of official secrecy and military discipline—the project was covertly funded at the behest of the president and, despite its massive scale, never discovered by Congress or the press. This concealment was perhaps to be expected in wartime, but Wills persuasively argues that the Manhattan Project then became a model for the covert operations and overt authority that have defined American government in the nuclear era. The wartime emergency put in place during World War II extended into the Cold War and finally the war on terror, leaving us in a state of continuous war alert for sixty-eight years and counting.

The bomb forever changed the institution of the presidency since only the president controls “the button” and, by extension, the fate of the world. Wills underscores how radical a break this was from the division of powers established by our founding fathers and how it, in turn, has enfeebled Congress and the courts. The bomb also placed new emphasis on the president’s military role, creating a cult around the commander in chief. The tendency of modern presidents to flaunt military airs, Wills points out, is entirely a post-bomb phenomenon. Finally, the Manhattan Project inspired the vast secretive apparatus of the national security state, including intelligence agencies such as the CIA and NSA, which remain largely unaccountable to Congress and the American people.

Wills recounts how, following World War II, presidential power increased decade by decade until reaching its stunning apogee with the Bush administration. Both provocative and illuminating, Bomb Power casts the history of the postwar period in a new light and sounds an alarm about the continued threat to our Constitution.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dave | 11/19/2013

    " Fascinating account of the rise of the imperial presidency and the security state as a function of the development of the atomic bomb. A warning to all who feel that a change in administrations means a change in the balance of power. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dylan Groves | 6/18/2013

    " does not make an argument "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 K Bond | 10/19/2012

    " Exceptional read! Contains information the average US citizen doesn't commonly think of or find out about. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dudley | 5/24/2012

    " Pretty decent read, although it gets preachy towards the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vince Carter | 3/1/2011

    " The author puts in perspective the out-of-control progression of presidents of both parties grabbing more power that the writers of the Constitution ever intended--to all of our detriment. Congress has to learn to say "no" emphatically. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pamela | 8/21/2010

    " Fascinating perspective of the effect the creation and use of the atomic bomb has had on our country and its politics. Eye opening and thought provoking. "

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About the Author
Author Garry Wills

Garry Wills is a historian and the author of the New York Times bestsellers What Jesus Meant, Papal Sin, Why I Am a Catholic, and Why Priests?, among others. A frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and other publications, Wills is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a professor emeritus at Northwestern University. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.

About the Narrator

Stephen Hoye has worked as a professional actor in London and Los Angeles for more than thirty years. Trained at Boston University and the Guildhall in London, he has acted in television series and six feature films and has appeared in London’s West End.