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

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3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  99 ratings  ·  14 reviews
The first-ever popular history of theRAND 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 WarII as an idea factory to advise the air force on how to wage and win wars, RAND quickly
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Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 12th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 335)
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Mike
Aug 27, 2011 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Heather D-n
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
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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Liam
"'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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Jesus
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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Dirk
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.
Temy Chonos
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 STILL MARKED TOP SECRET DEAL WITH DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR POWERS OR NANO-TECHS. FOR RAND HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT IDEAS, ABOUT WHAT-IFS, ABOUT PIE IN THE SKY.
Sj
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.
Justin
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.
Philippe
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.
Dan Lemke
While fascinating in some regards, far too much is handled with little care. Far too dramatized for the subject matter it covers.
Erik
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!
Vũ Thùy
Apr 10, 2013 Vũ Thùy marked it as to-read
Wanna know more about RAND corp
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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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