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Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  292 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
In Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts, acclaimed journalist Robert D. Kaplan continues his exploration of the American military's challenging and varied commitments around the world. From protecting sea lanes, to providing disaster relief, to preparing for potential military confrontation with North Korea and Iran, Kaplan describes the astonishing, vital, and often unacknowledg ...more
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Published September 30th 2008 by Vintage (first published September 4th 2007)
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JoséMaría BlancoWhite
A fast paced, straight-forward, honest talk on the state of the American military forces spread all over the world, updated until late 2006. Filled with lively analysis and real soldiers' opinions on their reasons for fighting and their viewpoints on country, freedom and life in general. Soldiers' talk and respectful, brilliant on the ground witness by Kaplan make this book -and his previous one- gems of contemporary journalism.

Humor: “I know where heaven is and it's Lithuania”, “The women are b
Three stars is a provisional rating; I have to think about this book a bit more, then hopefully not be too lazy to write a review...
Feb 19, 2008 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wishing to be a better informed citizen
This is the sequel to Imperial Grunts and rounds out the tour of the cutting edges of the American military begun in that earlier book. Kaplan researches his work exhaustively both in the writings of others and in person, and he seems to have logged enough travel to take him around the world a dozen times in the several-year course of writing these two books.

I appreciated the fact that he avoided oversimplifying or showing unbalanced views of the many issues. Kaplan makes no bones about the fact
Mar 06, 2014 Erwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the military embed travelogue singing the praises of the middle class and the individual soldiers is OK, but the afterward is excellent - definitely a five star review of where the military is today and where it is heading in the future (the empire will fall, China and perhaps India will advance).

it's almost as the author is traveling through the most remote outposts of the empire as he sees the entire mechanism is near an end, and he wants to, in the most friendly and flattering light, document
I enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was well-written, and did a great job showing how the 'global war on terror' truly is global in nature. The media focuses exclusively on Iraq and Afghanistan, ignoring what the United States is doing in other parts of the world. It held my interest throughout the entire book, and I had a hard time putting it down. It covers a two-to-three year period where the author is embedded in various military units in the Middle East, the Pacific, Africa, Asia, and ...more
Steve Smits
Jun 05, 2013 Steve Smits rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kaplan presents an interesting and thoughtful perspective on the US military in the 21st century. He embedded with a number of units in the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force over a several year period. His approach is to show how the diverse missions of these units fit within an evolving US global strategy in the post cold war and post 9/11 time. There are two overarching themes of his analysis: positioning the nation to deal with the rising power of China in the Pacific rim and the world and ho ...more
Excellent overview of modern military strategy.
Not so good as biography of modern American soldiers.

The author does an excellent job of demonstrating the nature/need of modern US defense policy. From the need to utilize SF forces to help maintain the capbilities of weakened states (Niger, Chad, states in Polynesia); to the increased need of the Navy (subs for intel collections in litoral regions, ability to project power); to the need of being able to forward deploy to allied states, rather tha
George Siehl
Journalist, military analyst, and geographer Robert Kaplan details his 2004 to 2006 embedments with American military forces in four regions: Africa, Asia, the Mideast, and the Pacific Ocean. His subject forces included Marine, Navy (surface and sub-surface), Air Force, and Army Special Forces units. Many of these units were engaged in multilateral training of, or with, host country troops. Other units were engaged in enhancing or maintaining the skills needed to operate the high technology plat ...more
Feb 07, 2008 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's more to this book than meets the eye. It starts off innocently (and perhaps a little boringly) as a picaresque recounting of the author's many and continuous embeddings with various of our armed services installations around the world. He discusses the functions of these installations in some depth; his travels involve visits with each of the armed services (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force), including combat environments, training of other countries' militaries, humanitarian aid, and jus ...more
Apr 10, 2008 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave it only 3 stars because the structure of the book is a bit disjointed at times. On the whole, however, it goes a long way toward dispelling the naive argument that the U.S. is nothing more than an overly aggressive, bullying hegemon. It details, for example, the leading role played by the U.S. Navy in assisting the victims of the tsuanmi which struck Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka in 2005. Kaplan describes how "nearly a hundred Navy and Marine helicopters [conducted] a ship-to-shore c ...more
May 27, 2010 Jeph rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If it is possible to romanticize the United States military, this book does it. Robert D. Kaplan, in the crash journalism style of writing I enjoy, embeds himself with various crews of the four military divisions. He spends time on rifle ranges with the U.S. Marines, experiencing the organized chaos of underway refuelings aboard the USS Benfold, fighting claustrophobia on a nuclear submarine, and base-hopping with the A-10 Warthog pilots of the Air Force.

I expected this book to be a sort of trav
J. Gibson Hartley
Kaplan provides an ambitious overview of where (as of 2007) all US forces are operating today and the challenges we are likely to face tomorrow. Kaplan does not tie himself to one service, but instead gives the reader a rich understanding of the particular missions of each service and where we see increasing purple or "jointness" between them. This book provides both a beginner's introduction to the US military as well as a comprehensive and astute presentation of geopolitical and military chall ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Robert D. Kaplan turns away from the more incendiary front line of the war on terror in this follow-up to Imperial Grunts. He spent over two years embedded with a diverse group of soldiers, and his admiration for their work comes through on every page. That same high esteem opens up the major vein of criticism, as some reviewers fault Kaplan for veering "dangerously close to cheerleading" (Washington Post). Well-researched and sympathetically drawn, these portraits of the modern military are ess

-De los cimientos en los que se apoya una Hiperpotencia y, casi sin querer, de sus potenciales desafíos geopolíticos.-

Género. Ensayo.

Lo que nos cuenta. Paseo por diferentes acuartelamientos del ejército norteamericano, de la mano de un periodista, que le llevarán de una brigada Stryker en Alaska, a las fuerzas especiales en Mali y Colombia, pasando por estaciones de misiles, bombarderos B-2, destructores, submarinos nucleares y drones en el Extremo Oriente y el Pacífico, entre otros lugares y d
Jul 27, 2011 Kash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compared to his earlier book, The Imperial Grunts, this one is not as good but it enhanced my view of the US Military much more than the "Imperial Grunts" since that book was mostly written about the ground forces deployed around the world. This one is about the naval, air forces and ground forces altogether but its emphasis is more on Air Force and Navy. It's a very informative book on the status of the US military and its future. Robert D. Kaplan is an able author with tons of knowledge about ...more
Dec 09, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't read "Imperial Grunts", but after thoroughly enjoying this second of Mr. Kaplan's trilogy, I may. HIs writing style is easy and flowing, and he
keeps you on the edge of your seat. Current through 2006, the author gives the reader an idea of what modern combat is like, in the air, on and below the sea, and on the ground. Though I'm a veteran, I'm also damned glad that I wasn't embedded with him as he was collecting the data for this book! Gritty. Page turner. Definately recommended.
Apr 15, 2010 Hank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent insight into the life of an American military member executing his/ her duties in an operational theater. Dr. Kaplan weaves the individual experiences into the historical and political context of the mission resulting in enlightening an entertaining descriptions of our military at work. Of particular interest to me were the activities where our folks are quietly successful, outside of the limelight, implementing U.S. foreign policy while creating stability and furthering pro ...more
Sep 07, 2007 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: current events, military policy
Kaplan looks at two primary areas of the US military - the hi-tech conventional forces of the Air Force and Navy and the light fighters who are carrying out low-level training, civil affairs and institution building operations in Asia, Africa and south America. If you want an idea of who is really making ground-level US foreign policy in some of the critical areas of the world and who will continue to do so into the future, this is the book to read.
Feb 07, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting and upclose look at America's modern military

excellent in that the author presents the military through its members, history and the geopolitical frames of reference throughout the world

the book points out how extensive the military is stationed throughout the world which makes me wonder how right President Eisenhower was when He said the military-industrial complex was such a danger to our democracy.
Kaplan spent over two years 2004-2006, crossing the global imbedding with troops from every branch, with the multiple missions that the US military is running. Entertaining, enlightening and compelling this is a basic introduction to the current US military.

Why I started this book: Interesting title, I thought it was going to be about Navy fly boys. It was so much more.

Why I finished it: Strong narration and story, I will be looking for more books by Kaplan.
Dec 12, 2008 Don rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good but not as good as Imperial Grunts. If you're in a hurry, read the last chapter - "The Morbid Tyranny Out of Antiquity" and the Afterword - "The Non Warrior Democracy."

The last chapter is all about North Korea. Good summary of the history and sobering look at what might be the future sooner than later.

The afterword is a good look at our nation, patriotism, faith, universal values, Rumsfeld, Powell, status quo, and the age in which we live.
Part II in Kaplan's 3-part series on the American military on the group lacks a lot of the truly original and incisive observations of a lot of his earlier work, and his focus on the literary craft seems to have waned. However, he is still among the best sources for info on the current state of the US military, including it's unpublicized missions in remote corners of the globe.
Oct 20, 2012 George rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
A book set in the 1990s covers those individuals who were at the center of the fight in Iraq. I thought it an interesting, yet dated, read. The book gives the reader an idea of what it's like to fight a modern war from the soldier's perspective.
Matthew Sparling
Parts of this book were excellent. When the author was providing information about the military personnel the book was excellent. The remaining portions were horrible. I would not was my time reading it.
Christian Settlemier
What a surprise! A very comprehensive look across the services, and went from a more nuts/bolts descriptive section to a very good strategic discussion of our place in an evolving political scene. Really, really enjoyed this book.
Aug 24, 2012 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great follow-up from kaplan on the war on terror.
Oct 26, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dave by: Shadi Sahami
The diversity of operations and populations in this book is amazing. The U.S. military is involved in countless ways around the world. My favorite part is the "Wart Hogs".
Dec 03, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second part to Kaplan's "Imperial Grunts" describing the American armed services' reach into over 170 nations worldwide, and what makes them one of history's distinct military organizations.
David Montanari
interesting topic. booring book.
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Robert David Kaplan is an American journalist, currently a National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. His writings have also been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Republic, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs and The Wall Street Journal, among other newspapers and publications, and his more controversial essays about the nature of U.S. power have spurred debate ...more
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