Meganm922's Reviews > Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Drift by Rachel Maddow
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's review
Apr 01, 2012

really liked it
Read from April 04 to 05, 2012

It's going to be difficult to write this review. Let me start off by talking about how I even heard about this book and why I wanted to read it.
I frequently watch The Colbert Report on Comedy Central since he is absolutely hilarious to me. I don't care much for John Stewart, but will sometimes catch part of his show since it's right before Colbert. I happened to catch the interview between Stewart and Maddow talking about this book. I know a little bit about Maddow, but I avoid news talk shows like the plague. I'm neither liberal nor conservative and try to kind of stay out of bipartisan issues. When Maddow talked about her book, she mentioned a problem with the military drifting away from the rest of the country and how that has impacted us as a nation. She mentioned the insane amount of private contractors and how we as the public are largely uninvolved in war and how these things matter and they've slowly happened over the course of time. She wrote the book to explain how this has happened and said there are ways to fix it, which she says at the end of the book. And most importantly, she said this isn't a right vs. left issue but an issue that everyone has had a hand it. And it's not a conspiracy. It's just how things have happened.
Instantly, my ears perked up. I liked that this would be nonpartisan. I liked that she wasn't trying to create some conspiracy or hint at one. And of course, the issue of the military becoming this off to the side separate entity hasn't gone unnoticed by me. History class in school usually doesn't make it very far into the present. But I do remember a bit about WW2 (how could we not at least discuss that for a bit?) and I remember all the factories churning out materials for the guys at war, the women working in those factories making war items for their men, shipped off. And the rations. And this overwhelming sense of TOGETHERNESS and determination. Those people knew they were at war and they felt it. So why, in my entire lifetime, have I not felt like we were at war? It doesn't have the slightest impact on my daily life, really. (I say that sadly, not happily) And I have always felt that it should. War should hurt. We should grow and learn and suffer through it to become stronger.
So of course, I wanted this book, regardless of my political views.
I'm glad I read it. There's so much about the previous presidents that I don't know. I'll admit my ignorance. I know a little bit, and anytime I questioned any fact presented, I looked it up to make sure I wasn't being "swayed" to any degree. (being swayed by political books one of the reasons I avoid them. It sickens me to see bias) I did end up stumbling upon some bit about the quote from Jefferson not being correct, but other than that, it was fine. Maddow was very good about not injecting any political bias. This is part of the reason this review has earned a 4.
This book covers the time from the Vietnam War up until today, highlighting the decisions made by each administration that led us to where we are today. It all makes sense and it's very neatly organized and presented. I definitely learned more about the Reagan administration than I knew before. She presented her case clearly and did exactly what she set out to do: show us how we ended up where we are, why it's a problem, how it happened with no ounce of conspiracy but decision after decision that leads us into an almost "comfortable routine" if you will. (I guess a good analogy for what is presented is when you leave a glass on the table, get yelled at for it by your parents, forget, do it again, eventually your parents stop yelling at you, it becomes a habit, and before you know it you can't remember ever being told not to leave your dishes out and continue on like it's not a big deal... if that makes sense. That's essentially the gist of how things turned out.)
True to her word, she outlined solutions to the problem, all of which seemed like good ideas.
The only problem I have with this book is that so much of it was spent on showing the beginning to the end as far as decisions went and less time talking about the how drift hurts us. She did talk about it in detail, I just hoped there would be more to it, I guess. We are living in a time and place where the obvious is not so obvious (especially when it comes to politics), so I guess I expected her to really drive that point home. After all, that's the number one reason I wanted this book. But, alas, I understand the problem, acknowledge there is a problem, and agree with the solutions she presented, so it was worth the read.
I read on the back of this book that people who don't like Maddow will get angry reading this. I don't know how true that is. Then again, I'm neither left nor right in the general scheme of things, so perhaps I see it differently. The only thing I can see people getting angry about is the way she talked about Reagan, but that's an entire debate for another day on another blog. I'm not here to discuss Reagan's presidency, though I'm aware conservatives generally like him, so I can see potential for anger. Putting that aside, I think this book genuinely is nonpartisan. I was happy to see there was no anti war, anti military, even anti nuclear weapon stuff in this book. This was a straightforward approach to a problem that we need to be aware of and one that we need to fix. It's just that simple.
I would recommend this book to others. I think it's an important read for military members and their families and anyone else close to military members. I also think it's a good read for people interested in the politics of war and even war related history to some degree.
Perhaps if enough people take notice, things can change and the military will no longer be drifting away from the general public, like a forgotten knickknack in the closet, or a recurring game subscription coming out of your bank account to a game you forgot you owned.
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message 1: by Janice (last edited Apr 06, 2012 06:59PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Janice I have heard her trash people, and utter such nonsense over and over I can not give her any credit. She is too biased for me.

Meganm922 That's a shame. Her points were valid and I thought she stayed true to her word that it wasn't a left vs right issue. Regardless of how she is in other environments, she was very straightforward in the book. It's worth a read.

Janice I respect your opinion so I may give it another thought. I know you have a great balance to your reading and think most of your opinions are correct. :)


Meganm922 Well, thank you. I normally avoid political books, but I couldn't help read this one since it is related to the military.

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