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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,111 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Andrew J. Bacevich, Andrew Bacevich Narrator: Eric Conger Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2008 ISBN: 9781427206879
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The Limits of Power identifies a profound triple crisis facing America: the economy, in remarkable disarray, can no longer be fixed by relying on expansion abroad; the government, transformed by an imperial presidency, is a democracy in form only; U.S. involvement in endless wars, driven by a deep infatuation with military power, has been a catastrophe for the body politic. These pressing problems threaten all of us, Republicans and Democrats. If the nation is to solve its predicament, it will need the revival of a distinctly American approach: the neglected tradition of realism.

Andrew J. Bacevich, uniquely respected across the political spectrum, offers a historical perspective on the illusions that have governed American policy since 1945. The realism he proposes includes respect for power and its limits; sensitivity to unintended consequences; aversion to claims of exceptionalism; skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving force; and a conviction that the books will have to balance. Only a return to such principles, Bacevich argues, can provide common ground for fixing America's urgent problems before the damage becomes irreparable.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This compact, meaty volume ought to be on the reading list of every candidate for national office in November's elections. In an age of cant and baloney, Andrew Bacevich offers a bracing slap of reality. The Limits of Power is gracefully written and easy to read… chockablock with provocative ideas and stern judgments. Bacevich's brand of intellectual assuredness is rare in today's public debates. Many of our talking heads and commentators are cocksure, of course, but few combine confidence with knowledge and deep thought the way Bacevich does here. His big argument is elegant and powerful. The Washington Post

  • Strongly felt and elegantly written… The Limits of Power is painfully clear-sighted and refreshingly uncontaminated by the conventional wisdom of Washington, D.C. The Economist
  • Andrew Bacevich speaks truth to power, no matter who's in power, which may be why those of both the left and right listen to him. Bill Moyers
  • Compelling. Lou Dobbs
  • Bacevich is the real deal. A quiet, cool voice of sanity with his spare, rigorous and unfailing honest analyses of America's role in the world and deepening strategic predicaments. This book should be essential reading for every National Security Council staffer in the next Washington administration, be it Republican or Democratic. In any sane political system, Mr. Bacevich would be immediately recruited to run intelligence and research at the State Department or policymaking at the Pentagon. The Limits of Power is destined to stand as a lonely classic signpost pointing the way to any future hope of renewed international and political security for the American people. Martin Sieff, The Washington Times
  • In this utterly original book, Andrew Bacevich explains how our ‘empire of consumption' contains the seeds of its own destruction and why our foreign policy establishment in Washington is totally incapable of coming to grips with it. Indispensable reading for every citizen. Chalmers Johnson, author of the Blowback Trilogy
  • A clear-eyed look into the abyss of America's failed wars, and the analysis needed to climb out. In Andrew Bacevich, realism and moral vision meet. James Carroll, author of House of War
  • In The Limits of Power, Andrew Bacevich takes aim at America's culture of exceptionalism and scores a bulls eye. He reminds us that we can destroy all that we cherish by pursuing an illusion of indestructibility. Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor USMC (Ret.), co-author of The General's War and Cobra II
  • Andrew Bacevich has written a razor sharp dissection of the national myths which befuddle U.S. approaches to the outside world and fuel the Washington establishment's dangerous delusions of omnipotence. His book should be read by every concerned US citizen. Anatol Lieven, author of America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism
  • In The Limits of Power, Andrew Bacevich delivers precisely what the Republic has so desperately needed: an analysis of America's woes that goes beyond the villain of the moment, George W. Bush, and gets at the heart of the delusions that have crippled the country's foreign policy for decades. Bacevich writes with a passionate eloquence and moral urgency that makes this book absolutely compelling. Everyone should read it. Mark Danner, author of Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul | 2/17/2014

    " This book is very strong in the analytical area: what is the problem with American foreign policy? But it is quite weak in prescription: What is to be done? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maya | 2/5/2014

    " This book is a critique of the American dream as currently imagined: global military supremacy, gluttonous pursuit of happiness and politicians that kowtow to public greed to ensure longevity in congress. The most interesting and important argument Bacevich makes, in my view, is that congress has ceded its role as a counterbalance to presidential power. It's not the best-written book--Bacevich makes a lot of unsubstantiated claims that should be passed off as his own opinion rather than accepted analysis and the counterarguments he makes in the conclusion could be better defined-- however, it is a very interesting, scary and coherent take on national security policy, American culture, and the challenges of the next generation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 2/4/2014

    " Andrew Bacevich is usually billed as a "conservative historian," but you'd never know it from the way he excoriates the futility of the militaristic forays of recent administrations. Sample section heading: "Does Knowing Douglas Feith is Stupid Make Tommy Franks Smart?" Unmentioned is the fact that Bacevich's son was killed in the Iraq war, which may account for his intemperateness. This would also be a good book for Obama to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 1/29/2014

    " similar themes from "blowback" by chalmers johnson. one thing that stood out from this book was the author's take on the military draft. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 1/23/2014

    " One of the few works by a well known conservative that makes sense. This is an excellent description of the repetitive mistakes the U.S. has made in international relations since World War II. Very good comparison of Henry Stimson v. James Forrestal, and the unfortunate legacy that Forrestal left. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 1/19/2014

    " Well, now that I am so thoroughly depressed about America's past, present, and future that I don't even want to vote tomorrow... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert | 10/19/2013

    " If you like Bush bashing (and I do) this book is for you. The author's attitude wears thin by the end, but he does make some points very clearly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 8/30/2013

    " I thought this was a powerful and well written book on where American culture is failing us. If only more people were listening... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Benedette | 6/17/2013

    " Excellent book outlining the triple American crisis of profligacy, political idiocy, and militarism run amuck. Not too long to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Geo Forman | 6/10/2013

    " sobering, provocative "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rich | 5/3/2013

    " A great exploration into our history and what may lie ahead in the future. The author asserts that much of what our government focuses on is actually a waste of time and money. I really enjoyed a historical view of how we became an imperial nation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eileen V. | 2/16/2013

    " An important book for Americans to read NOW and take to heart, especially in the wake of the debacle that was the Bush-Cheney hegemonic foreign policy. Extremely well-written and precise. Bacevich is from the military and a trained scholar and his knowledge and precision shine through every page. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike | 4/2/2012

    " Highly recommend this book for those who want to understand this country. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 2/16/2012

    " I thought it was a good read. It largely echoed my own feelings and I'm not sure I got anything particularly new out of it though - no new data or deep insight. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jason | 11/29/2011

    " Good overview of American exceptionalism and how the U.S. has overextended itself, but got a bit boring with some of the history of the U.S. military in the second chapter. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Noushin | 6/19/2011

    " great insight for the 21st from a historian with a military understanding of the world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristal | 5/4/2011

    " Definitely a book I'd want to read through again. Brings up many different arguments and points of views. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jose | 3/15/2011

    " awesome...read this one...everyone should read this...clear, well argued... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stan | 2/15/2011

    " Provides a good understanding of the U.S. pla ce in the world, the predicament we are in and what is needed to change it. Unfortunately our culture and politics make such change impossible. It will take a catastrophy to bring about change in my opinion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 1/14/2011

    " This was an interesting history of power in this country. It was surprisingly nonpartisan which I can appreciate. The book definitely kept my mind occupied this weekend while I was painting the bathroom (I got the book on cd). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lincoln | 11/10/2010

    " Now I see why this book was so popular when it came out...such clear writing and analysis! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kimberly | 10/15/2010

    " This is an exceptional, sobering book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Curtis | 7/29/2010

    " A succinct and rational examination of US foreign policy over the last century, laying out why it benefits the executive branch so much to keep us in a state of war, and culminating in the still mind-boggling idea of preventive war. "

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About the Author

Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University, served for twenty-three years as an officer in the US Army. He is the author of Washington Rules, The Limits of Power, and The New American Militarism, among other books. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, the Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

About the Narrator

Eric Conger is a stage actor, voice artist, and award-winning audiobook narrator. He has narrated more than 125 fiction and nonfiction audiobooks and was a four-time finalist for the Audie Award, both as a sole narrator in 2007 and 2008 and as part of a multicast reading in 2001 and 2012. He has earned six AudioFile Earphones Awards. His extensive voice-over work includes more than 5,000 narrations for commercial ventures. A graduate of Wesleyan University and the University of Paris, he also works as a writer and playwright. He has appeared in over fifty plays and has also translated plays of Molière and Feydeau for regional theaters. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.