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The Pentagon: A History

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  159 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
The creation of the Pentagon in 17 months during World War II is one of the great construction feats in American history, involving a tremendous mobilization of manpower, resources, and minds. Veteran military reporter Steve Vogel reveals for the first time the remarkable story of the Pentagon's construction, from it's dramatic birth to its rebuilding after the September 1 ...more
Hardcover, 656 pages
Published June 5th 2007 by Random House (first published 2007)
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Sep 04, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hist-misc
They don't build them like this any more. An absolutely fascinating book about the people who built the Pentagon. Just an amazing feat of design and construction in a short time. Often they were building before there were plans in place. Vogel tells a great story as he weaves in FDR and the military engineers, the politicians, and the civilian construction crews. I would not have wanted to have been the contractor or the officer in charge of construction. It was a neverending chorus of changes a ...more
Anne Ward
Mar 24, 2013 Anne Ward rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-history
This is a book about a building--how it was built, the action it has seen, and its place within the U.S. military. The book defies every opportunity to become a yawn and gives a intriguing account of the people and politics that went into building the Pentagon. If you live in the DC area this is a must read.

Five Stars: Historical, relevant, and well written.
Mark Mortensen
May 12, 2013 Mark Mortensen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military, americana
“The Pentagon: A History” captured my complete attention by simply answering all of my questions regarding: who, what, when, where and why. The Pentagon is merely a unique free standing structure some regard as the 8th wonder of the world, however it is the culture within from day one to present that is as historical as the building itself.

The top American military echelon is filled with highly talented individuals seeking advancement, recognition and responsibility in an atmosphere full of egos
I bought this book in August 2008 as part of my ongoing effort to learn more about the American "military-industrial complex". It turns out that there are not many books on the Pentagon; this was one of the few devoted to it. Admittedly it appeared to be mainly about the actual building rather than the institution itself, but I hoped that a "bricks and mortar" account might nonetheless provide a useful sidelight on the institution, and, having now read it, I feel it has done so.

Steve Vogel's his
Aug 14, 2016 Ari rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: nerds
A very detailed history of the Pentagon. The building, not the Defense Department. In some ways, it's a paradigmatic defense procurement program. Huge, hugely over budget, pushing the technical envelope, and subject to endless political meddling.

One of the things you learn is that Roosevelt thought of himself as an
amateur architect, and kept meddling with the plans. At one point he
proposed a solid square building, 1000 feet on a side, with
fluorescent lights and air conditioning for the interior
Tony Taylor
Jul 10, 2013 Tony Taylor rated it it was amazing
Never thought this book could be so interesting, but when my wife read it first and told me that I would like it, I took her word for it. I was stationed at the Pentagon (OPNAV 4th deck, E-ring) for 13 years up through 1988, so I feel that I knew the old Puzzle Palace fairly well, but it was not until I read this fascinating book that I realized that there was so much interesting history associated with its original construction as well as with the modernization and rebuild (after 9/11). You don ...more
Sep 23, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark Seip
Jan 21, 2016 Mark Seip rated it really liked it
The origin story of this famous building is awesome and highlights the effort required to make it a reality in such a short time period.
Dec 15, 2008 P.Sannie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in American military history
Shelves: non-fiction
Steve Vogel's history of the Pentagon reads easy and is completely fascinating. The Pentagon: A History reads like a novel, the characters are the architects, the politicians, and the workers. I normally don't read books like this, but I picked it up admittedly after Vogel made an appearance on The Daily Show. I wasn't sure I would like it, but I enjoyed it thoroughly; Vogel's writing is clear and the Pentagon's story is fascinating. Anyone who has an interest in American military history should ...more
Oct 20, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing
This book follows the history of the Pentagon from the early decision to consolidate the old War Department into a single location to the reconstruction effort after the September 11 attack.

What makes the book so good is that it's not just a dry recitation of facts but instead is just short vignettes of various events.

Some of the best stories come from the construction of the Pentagon, however the building has a surprisingly colorful history.
Dec 31, 2008 Robert rated it it was amazing
This is a page turner, an exciting story. With all the evidence around of government screw-ups, it's restorative to read of not one but two spectacular successes, no, three: the building of the Pentagon in 1941-42, the reconstruction in the late 1990s, and the rebuilding after the attack of 9/11, which the reconstruction assured relatively minimal devastation. The people come to life as the author tells their remarkable stories.
Jul 07, 2016 Chuck86 rated it really liked it
Everything you ever wanted to know about how they built the Pentagon, and how they renovated it both before and after 9/11. The "day of" 9/11 narrative is excellent, as is the story of FDR's personal involvement in where the building is.

And if you've ever wanted to know why it's a pentagon, your answer awaits!

A fine summary of a remarkable construction project.
Apr 04, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing; the world's largest office building put up in a year, with 10,000 people moved in in only 4 mos while it was still under construction. A great illustration of what the country can do when it puts its mind to something! Really interesting book that covers the personalities & politics involved in the construction of the building. Great for history buffs.
May 29, 2008 Kendra rated it really liked it
The history behind the reason for planning and the challenges of building the Pentagon from the fight over its location to its ultimate size and purpose. Very entertaining look at the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that took place to ensure this iconic building was finished, as well as a review of the events that impacted it on Sept. 11, 2001.
Feb 03, 2012 Diane rated it liked it
Very comprehensive and detailed history of the Pentagon, from its building during World War II until its renovation after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Filled with interesting antedotes, particularly from the building's early years. At 500 pages, however, I found it a bit too long. I felt as if the material merited a shorter treatment.
beth anne
Mar 20, 2008 beth anne rated it liked it
interesting stuff. after awhile the back story on some people was going on too long. it is a miracle that this building was made and still standing (not because of 9.11, but because of the way it was treated from wwI thru the 1980s). only ead if you have alot of time...this one took me a week (i am a book every 2 days person).
Jan 07, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it
Tedious because of all the detail. Nevertheless, it was fascinating. The book describes one of the most amazing construction feats in WWII, if not in US history. It also provides detail about the site selection, including the fact that homeless camps were displaced by the construction.
John Fulcoly
Sep 14, 2016 John Fulcoly rated it it was amazing
Very interesting - particularly the initial development of the concept for the building (completed over a weekend!). Fights over designs, money, segregation, and all the history combine for a very readable book!
Mar 16, 2009 Jenny rated it it was amazing
I read this book over a year ago and am still fascinated by it. It's a great one for Pentagon trivia -- if you have any interest in the building at all, this is a must read!
John L
Aug 16, 2007 John L rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Hard to believe that from conception of the idea to the final move in was only 17 months.
If you like history, and engineering, this one's for you.
Aug 07, 2011 Jeff rated it it was amazing
an amazing story of American ingenuity at its excellent read for anyone connected to the construction industry
Oct 27, 2008 Mr. rated it it was amazing
This one is manna for history/military history geeks. I enjoyed it, but unless you are D.C. wonk it might bore you to tears.
Oct 20, 2007 Bill rated it it was amazing
Outstanding! A must read for anyone interested in U.S. military history and certainly for anyone who has worked in the building.
Apr 10, 2010 Converse rated it liked it
A history of the building's conception, construction, renovation, and repair after September 11, 2001
Marshall Barney
Jul 04, 2008 Marshall Barney rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Engineering and planning
This is a fascinating book about the planning for and the building of the Pentagon. Good Read.
Jan 19, 2012 Ruth rated it really liked it
Love this book. It is so much more meaningful knowing the backdrop as well as I do.
Nov 15, 2007 alex marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
I just put this on hold at work, after a glowing recommendation from a patron.
Aug 15, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Good read. Highly recommended for all my friends who are Pentagon dwellers.
Joseph Wm.
Jul 23, 2013 Joseph Wm. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of interesting history about its development.
Apr 11, 2010 Holly marked it as to-read
mentioned at 2010 APA conference as a top read
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