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Soldiers Of Reason: The RAND Corporation And The Rise Of The American Empire

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  185 ratings  ·  25 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
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 388 pages
Published May 12th 2008 by Harcourt Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (first published 2008)
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Hai Quan
Jun 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
The readers are invited to check out my book review of CHARLIE RANGER by Rotundo and Ericsson and 24 HOUR'S IN MY LAI in this website ...more
Aug 21, 2011 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
Mar 31, 2015 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. ...more
Emi Bevacqua
Nov 23, 2010 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
Scott Holstad
I have to admit to being biased, but I've had many friends and colleagues at RAND for over 30 years, and I've known and do know many more. I have a great deal of respect for many there, for many of their studies, their research, etc. As it always been pragmatic or even metaphorically sane? Doubt it. But they've consistently done groundbreaking work there, have expanded their scope and research interests exponentially over the years, and they produce some great research. This book felt more like ...more
Ami Iida
May 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: game-theory, ict, politics
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 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
Tech Historian
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
RAND Still Awaits its History

A frustrating book. RAND clearly deserves a history and a cold war post mortem but this book isn't it. It reads a bit like a summary of interviews strung together with a muddled view of history and context. One would have hoped the text could have sorted through the hype, spin and fact of who this firm was and their impact on U.S. policy. Instead we get random vignettes of some of the more colorful personalities with no real insight. Hopefully someone will do a bette
Earl Westfall
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good history of a organization unknown to most people.

I spent a good part of my 20 years in the Army dealing with the emergency action system for nuclear release and on nuclear targeting. Never knew the thinking behind a lot of things we did. I also participated in the First Gulf War (deserts shield and storm) with the G3 of 101st Airborne Division as a fire support office. From reading the book the strategy behind th operation
Is no clearer than it was at the time.
William Schlickenmaier
Useful but deeply problematic

There were important and useful insights in this work, and the author’s access to internal documents was valuable. But the work is rife with errors, especially with respect to the positions held by individuals within the US Government.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Soldiers of Reason details the history of RAND, from its inception to modern times (well, 2008, when the book was published). Abella discusses and details both the important periods of time/events RAND was involved in (Cold War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq War, Watergate, Cuban Missile Crisis, etc.), as well as the notable people involved (Henry Kissinger, Paul Wolfowitz and others) and the role they played in guiding both the organization itself and the government (exclusively the U.S., up unti ...more
Richard Thompson
I have long been fascinated by the RAND Corporation. I have lived for many years near its headquarters in Santa Monica and watched with interest as its old buildings sandwiched between Santa Monica City Hall and the beach were demolished and replaced a decade ago. I have sometimes thought that I might have worked there in the late 70s and early 80s as a Sovietologist after having studied Russian language, literature and history at Harvard, but I never wanted to work for The Man, and, for better ...more
Virginia Shea
Dec 27, 2010 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
Aug 05, 2008 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
Oct 21, 2012 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,
Temy Chonos
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was ok

Feb 19, 2010 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.
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.
Feb 01, 2009 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. ...more
Apr 28, 2012 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. ...more
Jul 22, 2008 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.
Aug 17, 2008 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 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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