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4.000139586823 out of 54.000139586823 out of 54.000139586823 out of 54.000139586823 out of 54.000139586823 out of 5 4.00 (7,164 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rachel Maddow Narrator: Rachel Maddow Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2012 ISBN: 9780307970398
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In Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Rachel Maddow has written a book which goes into great detail to explain the ways in which American military strategy has changed in the last fifty years or so. President Lyndon Johnson's cursory question, "You don't think I oughta have a joint session, do you?" before doubling the number of forces in Vietnam is a good example of exactly the kind of "drift" Maddow sees occurring in American war practices. Obviously, Johnson was well aware of the fact that he ought to have consulted Congress before making this decision, but he didn't.

Maddow argues that the same can be said for many other Presidents who have taking war-related decisions into their hands when the right thing would have been for them to be voted on in Congress. When Congress comes into the picture and the issue is debated, the public becomes more aware of what is going on with the military. However, when the decision rests solely with the President and even the Reserves and the National Guard are not involved, the public simply goes on with its own life and doesn't have much to say about going to war with another nation.

Maddow examines the actions taken by Bush (senior and junior), Reagan and Clinton in this book, and it is Reagan who comes in for the most criticism because of his "unwavering and steadfast faith in the correctness of whatever came out of his own mouth." She presents evidence that many people believed Reagan to be misleading the American public. As far as Clinton is concerned, she writes that he turned to private contractors in the Bosnian skirmish, which ended up undermining the Abrams Doctrine in which it is necessary to call up members of the Reserves and National Guard. Maddow is critical of the use of private contractors, and the move away from the Abrams Doctrine is what she is arguing against.

Maddow's analysis of war strategy is in-depth and the reader will take away a great deal of information from this book that s/he didn't previously have. Reading about several wars in the course of one book shows how there has been a pattern that it was more difficult to spot when reading about these wars separately.

Rachel Maddow was born in Castro Valley, CA; her father was in the US air force but later became a lawyer while her mother was a school program administrator. Maddow went to Stanford University where she studied Public Policy and Oxford University where she got her D.Phil. in Politics. She was the first openly gay person to win the Rhodes Scholarship. She began her communications career on the radio with appearances on various shows and finally, The Rachel Maddow Show, which began in 2005. By 2008, she had her own show on TV, which made her the first openly gay host of a prime-time news program in the U.S. Maddow lives with her partner, Susan Mikula; they divide their time between Manhattan and Massachusetts.

The #1 New York Times bestseller that charts America’s dangerous drift into a state of perpetual war.

"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.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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
  • Maddow’s distinctive voice in Drift is highly intelligent, often incredulous and intermittently and humorously profane...Her thesis, which is passionately and effectively articulated, remind[s] us of how far we have drifted from linking the sacrifices of our armed forces around the world to the citizens at home they so selflessly serve… Maddow…[has] provided readers with a timely and perhaps necessary provocation to examine the far-reaching consequences of the American way of war. Gordon M. Goldstein, Washington Post
  • Crosses partisan lines and deals with issues that deserve a healthy debate...A compelling, intelligent read filled with Maddow's trademark wit. Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times
  • Even though she's an ideological broadcaster, Maddow doesn't resort to demonization and hyperbole. It makes her case much stronger. Conor Friedersdorf, TheAtlantic.com
  • Lively but serious...This book is a reminder that before Maddow became a face on nighttime television, she was a Rhodes scholar who earned a doctorate in politics at Oxford. But Drift is not heavy reading, and her cheerfully snarky voice is instantly recognizable...A thought-provoking and timely book. Scott Shane, New York Times Book Review

    "Full of head-smacking stories about America's military meddling and muddling...Maddow sounds an alarm this country needs to hear more than almost any other.
  • Provocative...Asks fundamental questions about the process by which the U.S. now goes to war that pretty much never get asked by the media. Wired.com
  • Thoroughly researched...Written in her signature broadcast style--provocative, satirical, passionate-bordering-on-outrage...Progressive fans of her show may already know what to expect. Yet the book still surprises. Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • Recommended reading...There's a deadly serious argument here that deserves way more attention than it gets. Kevin Drum, MotherJones.com
  • Engaging but sobering...With the same kind of substance, wit and charge that make her TV show a top-rated Emmy winner, Maddow details how dubious wars, the exploding "privatization" of the military and a superfunded, superpowered security leviathan have drained our resources...Sometimes it takes a gutsy, determined woman--a Nellie Bly, Rachel Carson, Ida Tarbell, Elizabeth Neuffer, Molly Ivins or Rachel Maddow--to hang a literary lantern on a revolting situation. Austin American-Statesman
  • "Drift is infused with Maddow’s sharp wit and her vast political knowledge. She dexterously reveals how we became the nation that spends more money on militarism then all other nations combined...“The path to American amnesia is worth recalling on this Memorial Day,” wrote Tom Englehardt. If you want to jog your memory, I encourage you to dive into Maddow’s brilliant testament to remembering. MsMagazine.com
  • 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
  • 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, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Ghost Wars

  • One of the Washington Post’s 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction for 2012
    One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Nonfiction Books of 2012
  • Thank Ms. Maddow for picking this and every other fight that Drift provokes. It will be a smarter public debate than the kinds we're used to. Janet Maslin, New York Times

    "A biting, bracing tour of the rise of American military bloat...Her fix-it ideas aren't facile or smiley-faced. They are a coda to the serious project she's taken on--a project that both plays to her persona and gives it new gravitas...Rachel, if you can get those ideas a serious hearing, you will be much more than TV's funniest wonk.

  • 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 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
  • “Lively but serious…This book is a reminder that before Maddow became a face on nighttime television, she was a Rhodes Scholar who earned a doctorate in politics at Oxford. But Drift is not heavy reading, and her cheerfully snarky voice is instantly recognizable…A thought provoking and timely book.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Thank Ms. Maddow for picking this and every other fight that Drift provokes. It will be a smarter public debate than the kinds we’re used to.”

    New York Times

  • “Maddow’s distinctive voice in Drift is highly intelligent, often incredulous, and intermittently and humorously profane…Her thesis, which is passionately and effectively articulated, remind[s] us of how far we have drifted from linking the sacrifices of our armed forces around the world to the citizens at home they so selflessly serve…[Maddow has] provided readers with a timely and perhaps necessary provocation to examine the far-reaching consequences of the American way of war.”

    Washington Post

  • “Full of head-smacking stories about America’s military meddling and muddling…Maddow sounds an alarm this country needs to hear more than almost any other.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Crosses partisan lines and deals with issues that deserve a healthy debate…A compelling, intelligent read filled with Maddow’s trademark wit.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • A USA Today bestseller
  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Nonfiction: Current Affairs and Social Sciences
  • A #1 New York Times bestseller
  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Jedeikin | 2/20/2014

    " Fantastic, readable, engaging look at recent history of how the U.S. military is deployed and prioritized. With her trademark wit and Gen-Xer irreverence (leavened, however, by intellect and investigative rigor), Rachel Maddow exposes how the military has morphed from a "whole nation" entity, with all the seriousness and sacrifice that entails, into a private-contractor-heavy, Presidentially-owned, mega-militia. The bit at the end about our nuclear arsenal is particularly chilling. For anyone wondering how the Iraq War happened the way it did -- and all the steps leading up to it, from Reagan and Inran-Contra and beyond, this is THE book to have on your shelf (or e-reader). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lou | 2/7/2014

    " I'm a Navy retiree and saw quite a few of these shifts in Defense policy during my career. Rachel has hit the nail on the head with her detailed assessment of how American military policy, readiness and dynamics as well as the role of both the executive and legislative branches have drifted. The concept of a unitary executive scares the hell out of me...and our military should never be exploited based on the whims of a few or one individual. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rodney | 2/6/2014

    " I hope a lot of folks read this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeanette | 2/1/2014

    " An excellent read for those who want to really think about how the war has become the thing to do, how we get in them, how they are run and the impact they have on our economy. Just love Rachel Maddow for her intelligent, insightful writing as well as her kick-butt journalism. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chase Swindler | 1/26/2014

    " Very informative view on how America became OK with being at a constant state of warfare. Put your partisan political affiliation aside and read this book, I guarantee you'll be a better person after reading it regardless if you're a Repub or a Dem. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katrina | 1/25/2014

    " This book was excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in her perspective on the development of the use of the military in America. I really enjoy her writing style and it makes me wish I had cable so I could watch her show. Really well-written and engaging. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phoebe223 | 1/19/2014

    " Above my head most of the time but I could follow it enough to know there is way too much I do not know and can not control in our government. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 1/17/2014

    " Rachel's writing comes across just as her show does. Very straight forward and to the mark. She has a wonderful conversational style of writing. I must admit I am still looking for the dictionary that contains 'chickenshittery' as in "...severe chickenshittery on the part of the Congress". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gwyn Ellsworth | 1/13/2014

    " The things Rachel does to Reagan's legacy... mmph. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 12/27/2013

    " Perfect reflection on the empirical idea of always being ready for war. Loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tricia | 12/5/2013

    " Amazing as always. Love this woman. Even saw her talk about it during her second book tour. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill Smith | 9/3/2013

    " It's a shame that Republicans can't be swayed by facts because this book should do it. I lived through this entire process and didn't know most of it! A must read for every Democrat and Independent, and a should read, but won't, for every Republican. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Whitney | 7/19/2013

    " A great walk through modern U.S. military history and the way that our war-making has changed drastically in the past 30 years in particular. I felt shocked and dismayed, but her suggestions of what can be changed to roll back the madness made it seem far from hopeless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christopher O'malley | 4/12/2013

    " Read it. You won't regret it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stuart Kushner | 2/19/2013

    " Must read for anyone that wants to learn about how we became so dedicated to such a large permanent military. Rachel Madow does a great job. I feel smarter after reading this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris Murray | 2/15/2013

    " Fascinating read. Should be on every politician's reading list. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane Lee | 1/25/2013

    " A great tale about how the US got into and continues to support the military industrial complex. Scary. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jesse | 4/14/2012

    " Some very convincing arguments and a good refresh on 'normals' in the use, care and feeding of the American military. Highly recommended, whatever side of politics you sit on. "

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About the Author
Author Rachel Maddow

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 under-appreciated 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.