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Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire

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3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  117 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
The first-ever popular history of the RAND Corporation, written with full access to its archives, Soldiers of Reason is a page-turning chronicle of the rise of the secretive think tank that has been the driving force behind American government for sixty years.

Born in the wake of World War II as an idea factory to advise the air force on how to wage and win wars, RAND quick
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Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 12th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2008)
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Richard
Mar 31, 2015 Richard rated it liked it
Meh. All I really wanted here was the details of overly-optimistic Cold War studies revealing an excess of faith in the power of science. There's a little of that, to be sure, but mostly it's a lot of political intrigue between people you've never heard of. It's fine.
Mike
Aug 21, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
The RAND Corporation was always one of those things on the periphery that you knew of (maybe) and why they existed (again, maybe). If you were an investigative sort or a politico-policy junkie of the last 60 years you definitely knew who they were and that they were originally set up to consult for the Air Force. "Soldiers of Reason" lets everyone learn about the formation, operation and effects of this ground-breaking organization.

As a history of the RAND corporation I found the book to be well
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Emi Bevacqua
Nov 23, 2010 Emi Bevacqua rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Generally I don't do much non-fiction, but I enjoyed reading this book for the most part. I chose it while applying for jobs at two different FFRDCs (federally funded research and development centers); Soldiers of Reason is a historic account of the RAND Corporation and in its early days Aerospace was its arch nemesis, competing for Air Force funding. The middle portion sounded a lot like my Poli Sci classes at the University of Wisconsin - nuclear deterrence, game theory, first strike, Mutually ...more
Ami Iida
May 11, 2015 Ami Iida rated it it was ok
Shelves: ict, politics, game-theory
There are 3 points to read in this book.
They are the game theory, birthplace of IT,basis of medical expenses borne in this book.
and they are only important points.
This book is described the overall superficial to RAND, and it is boring ,boring, boring,etc............
This book does not need to read.
Heather D-n
Oct 07, 2008 Heather D-n rated it liked it
The Rand Corp has such a mysterious reputation for an organization that now does a lot of social policy research. Can it really be as bad as they say? It seems that they created a lot of cold war military theory and masterminded the idea of operations research and preemptive strikes (ie. the Iraq war). I thought this was sort of dry, but a fascinating account of how military theory is created. Especially the section on the pentagon papers, and their relationship to Watergate. The book made me af ...more
Virginia Shea
Dec 27, 2010 Virginia Shea rated it really liked it
Book Club choice.... I was very hesitant because I tend to not enjoy non-fiction -- but this book is facinating -- I am learning so much about the time just before and while I was growing up... and things have not changed much! I am about 1/2 way through this book as of 12/27.

ok - I finished this book on 1/11/11 - I will re-read this book, and I never re-read books (or very seldom) - I learned sooo much but know that i missed a lot... best thing is the book encouraged me to read more non-fiction
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Jesus
Aug 05, 2008 Jesus rated it liked it
To paraphrase an early character within this history: the atom bomb changed the nature of conflict among nations so much that our goal is no longer to wage war, but to prevent it. Another interesting individual these pages profile is the guy Dr. Strangelove was based on.

Told from the perspective of an author who, without reasoning too deeply about it, participated in a party tossing rudimentary Molotov cocktails at a building suspected of being a headquarters of RAND during the Vietnam war, the
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Liam
Oct 21, 2012 Liam rated it really liked it
"'Gentlemen, you don't have a war plan, you have a war-gasm!'" (quoting Herman Kahn on SAC war plans, 90)

"Like his future Pentagon colleague [Alain Enthoven], the twenty-seven-year-old Ellsberg was so convinced of the possibility of a nuclear war that he declined to enroll in RAND's pension plan, seeing no future in it." (138)

"He [Helmy Khalilzad] borrowed his colleague's copy of French Marxist philosopher Alexandre Kojeve's Lectures on Hegel and returned it to her with one sentence underlined,
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Temy Chonos
Mar 13, 2011 Temy Chonos rated it it was ok
RAND... IS ARGUABLY THE GRANDEST EXPERIMENT EVER UNDERTAKEN TO TEST THE IDEA THAT EVEN MAN KIND'S MOST PRESSING PROBLEMS CAN BE SOLVED.

I BELIEVE-I WITNESSED BIGGEST INTELLECTUAL POWER HOUSE EVER IN ALL HUMAN CIVILIZATION. OH MY RAND!!!!!! MOST OF THE MATERIALS ARE STILL MARKED AS TOP SECRET, DEALING WITH DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR POWERS OR NANO-TECHS. RAND IS ALWAYS ALL ABOUT IDEAS, ABOUT WHAT-IFS, ABOUT PIES IN THE SKY.
Dirk
Feb 19, 2010 Dirk rated it liked it
A strange group that has shaped US policy for decades and became the most powerful supporters of American Imperialism. Its members caused Watergate, predicted the loss in Vietnam, put the US into Iraq and even predicted how the occupation would fail. One of their most amazing contributions was the creation of the internet which initially was based on AM radio signals used to control the nukes so that communication breakdowns would not accidently result in the destruction of the world.
Bruinrefugee
The author has a pretty clear ideological axe to grind, but despite that weakness, enough of the much more fascinating underlying story comes through via the strength of various personalities. Not so much a full-blown history as a series of vignettes over time, it provides an entree (no matter how heavy-handed) into an amazing little institution down near the Santa Monica pier.
Justin
Feb 01, 2009 Justin rated it really liked it
Excellent history of the RAND corporation from founding through to today. Critical, but never overly so. Full of great personalities. Makes a great companion to Secrets by Daniel Ellsberg.
Sj
Apr 28, 2012 Sj rated it really liked it
For people like me who never really bothered to understand what RAND Corporation really does, the book provides a historical context about its creation, its original mandate, and its evolution. It's a bold book, providing some criticisms (though implied) about the current military and national security framework of the US as a result of RAND's influence over the US Government.
Philippe
Jul 22, 2008 Philippe rated it liked it
Half the book is an intriguing intellectual/institution history of the Cold War -- highlighted the manner in which the brightest managed to become the most intransigent and paranoid; the other half sucked.
Erik
Aug 17, 2008 Erik rated it it was amazing
A nice short history of the RAND corporation and some of the things that popped out of their labs. Thanks for the insurance co-pay, RAND!
Dan Lemke
Apr 07, 2010 Dan Lemke rated it it was ok
While fascinating in some regards, far too much is handled with little care. Far too dramatized for the subject matter it covers.
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Papá was a poet. I am not.

But I am a writer--journalist, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, newswriter--I've tried practically everything that can be done with words upon a page, screen, or any medium, in all genres except poetry. So far.

The first time I ever wrote anything for publication--or so I thought--I was eight years old. Like most boys who want to be writers, I wrote an adventure story,
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