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Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, Boston. Dust Jacket Condition: As new. From the National Book Awardwinning author of An American Requiem and Constantine's Sword comes a sweeping yet intimate look at the Pentagon and its vast often hidden impact on America. This landmark, myth-shattering work chronicles the most powerful institution in America, the people who created it, and the pathologies it has spawned.

James Carroll proves a controversial thesis: the Pentagon has, since its founding, operated beyond the control of any force in government or society. It is the biggest, loosest cannon in American history, and no institution has changed this country more. To argue his case, he marshals a trove of often chilling evidence.

He recounts how "the Building" and its denizens achieved what Eisenhower called "a disastrous rise of misplaced power" from the unprecedented aerial bombing of Germany and Japan during World War II to the "shock and awe" of Iraq. He charts the colossal U. He reveals how consistently the Building has found new enemies just as old threats and funding evaporate. He demonstrates how Pentagon policy brought about U.

Carroll draws on rich personal experience his father was a top Pentagon official for more than twenty years as well as exhaustive research and dozens of extensive interviews with Washington insiders. The result is a grand yet intimate work of history, unashamedly polemical and personal but unerringly factual. With a breadth and focus that no other book could muster, it explains what America has become over the past sixty years. Disruptive scientific and technological progress is not to me inherently good or inherently evil.

But its arc is for us to shape. But it is quite incorrect that it unfolds inexorably according to its own internal logic and the laws of nature. Five causes of collapse appear paramount: major episodes of climate change, crises-induced mass migrations, pandemics, dramatic advances in methods of warfare and transport, and human failings in crises including societal lack of resilience and the madness, incompetence, cultic focus, or ignorance of rulers.

Liberal democracy and capitalism have been the two commanding political and economic ideas of Western history since the 19th century. The Plan engaged Europe and got them involved directly into the American economy and markets where the US wanted them. Showcasing that air power led Russia, China another former ally and other nations to beef up their militarism to counter us. And that also meant that because of that threat military budgets went out of control.

This in a sense frightened many people who could have been enemies, allies and even the military who allows Eisenhower to use the military budget to build the Interstate and other home grown projects. As he did it led to the first test ban treaties Carroll goes all the way up to the Bush administration and his broader point is that we often see hobgoblins under the bed that aren't there. We react by building ourselves up for a threat that doesn't exist and in doing so often cause conflicts to happen. If you read Steve Coll's great books 'Ghost Wars' or the 'Bin Ladens' we find that often conflicts come because we lay down the conditions for them to grow through our own fear.

A hard point to disagree with Mar 27, Caryatid rated it it was ok. Up to page now and I might press on but it's sure hard to plough through. The authors bias is so strong it's become irritating. Hindsight is a very handy thing but without a balanced view just another rant. What on earth does the author expect when the subject is war? Just like the kid that volunteers for the military and aggrieved when he is wounded or heaven forbid disabled.

The family that is so proud he's in a fancy uniform then rails at the government for letting him get killed - suck it Up to page now and I might press on but it's sure hard to plough through. The family that is so proud he's in a fancy uniform then rails at the government for letting him get killed - suck it up, that's what the military is for, killing. Why castigate decision makers who made their best guess amongst a myriad of possible eventualities? I now see Goodreads bio of the author and realise the origin of his bias, and I have some amusement at his having to leave his messianic calling in order to have a conventional personal life.

Nov 04, Steve Knudsen rated it liked it. This book is a biased, yet informative look at the development of the Pentagon and the associated rise of the military-industrial complex. I have every reason to believe that the facts and information in the book are correct, but the author uses correlations as a way to build a conspiracy where he could have simply built a coherent narrative. Nevertheless the story is fascinating, and I have no problems maintaining my perspectives of history while reading it.

Mar 27, Brandon rated it it was ok.

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James Carroll seems quite disillusioned with the United States. He raves on Soviet leaders and praises them for the end of the Cold War. Quite a turn off. I give it 2 stars instead of 1 merely because there was some interesting information in it, once you got past the author's anti-American sentiment. Jul 12, Joyce K. I discovered that the pentagon is not what it appears to be. The important part the atomic bomb has played in everything that has happened since the early 's right through today. Jan 19, Peter Harrington rated it it was ok. I gave this book two stars.

It got one star because the Author read the book on tape; that is how I listened to this book. It got an additional star in that the outline of the book was historically accurate. The last three stars it did not get, because the Author wrote off ideas, that were clearly "of his opinion" as a "matter of fact", so that he could push his agenda that the Pentagon is some type of evil war driven factory. While there were many things in the book that were ideas of an opinio I gave this book two stars.

While there were many things in the book that were ideas of an opinion, that he wrote off as fact, I will only talk about one of those instances. The instance where he gave Mikhail Gorbachev "full credit" of ending the cold war is only an opinion and not a fact. Yes, there are some that give him credit, but for all of us that grew up while this was going on, we remember there were many other things that brought the end of the cold war; President Reagan, the physical fall of Russia, etc.


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Can we identify one thing that ended the Cold War, absolutely not, thus it is not a fact but an opinion as to what did it. In short, unless you already know a lot of facts about the Military, Pentagon, etc I do not suggest reading this book, as it will mislead you to believe an untruth about it. Mar 05, Stephanie Jenkins Ortiz Cerrillo rated it really liked it.

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This book is the first I've in this type of genre. Our Forefathers created the Constitution of the United States to enforce the rights of American citizens and to try to avoid g This book is the first I've in this type of genre. Our Forefathers created the Constitution of the United States to enforce the rights of American citizens and to try to avoid government officials overstepping the boundaries of our laws. Carroll strives to point out how the Pentagon and its agencies within have overstepped those boundaries many times.

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Carroll points out many decisions made by Pentagon officials and the US. Government as a whole and what the consequences were from those decisions. A very informative and often enlightening read even though Carroll's biases show through, you can learn or be reminded of a lot of U. A very long book but it would be interesting to have the book pick up from where it left off until current day. View 1 comment. The book is long and filled with hope for a brighter future. The next years can make the world a better place or yield a nuclear winter that few will survive.

It is up to us, as individuals to choose which! Jan 03, Rogier rated it it was amazing Shelves: history. James Carroll is uniquely qualified to write this book, being the son of an air-force officer, and having grown up around the Pentagon culture. The book is a stark reminder of the insanity of it all, which in our generation was probably mostly expressed in the cold war and the spiralling nuclear threat, in which supremacy was defined in how many times one super power or another coul "Defenses do what they would defend," says A Course in Miracles.

The book is a stark reminder of the insanity of it all, which in our generation was probably mostly expressed in the cold war and the spiralling nuclear threat, in which supremacy was defined in how many times one super power or another could wipe out the planet, as if one wasn't enough. One of the most priceless vignettes in the book is in just how far the military got out of control, when Curtis LeMay at the hight of the Cold War ends up admitting to have his own plans for a nuclear wipeout of the Soviet Union with his Strategic Air Command, on his own recognizance, since he plainly understood that the warning systems then in existence would not work.

This was yet another incident besides McArthur's insubordinations , of a general pre-empting civil authority, which ever since Caesar is the deepest fear of any republic or democracy, and always a signal of the start of empire and totalitarianism. Another episode straight out of the lunatic asylum was of Nixon ordering a nuclear red alert, and flying B's with their nuclear payload around, just to convince the Russians that he was crazy, as a mere negotiating ploy never stopping to realize that this actually was an insane thing to do.

Evidently, not only did he not realize it, neither did anyone else around him. The principles are easy to understand, and are the same for any country in the world, and certainly for any empire in history. Carroll gives it to us blow by blow, and with a keen analysis of the recent history we have lived through since World War II. The book misses out on a priceless Cold War story that came out on the positive side, though it also documented the underlying problems.

This was the incident on Sept 26, when a Lieutenant Colonel of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov, actually overrode what he suspected was a false positive on the radar, and prevented nuclear holocaust, for which he was duly fired.

Sep 16, Keith Davis rated it it was amazing. World War II converted the United States into a culture addicted to war like a junkie addicted to heroin.

'House of War,' by James Carroll - The New York Times Book Review - The New York Times

Our first reaction to any international crisis is to send in the troops rather than sending the diplomats. The incomprehensible amount of money we spend on the military has become one of the biggest driving forces of our economy and in turn the money donated by military funded industries fuels the election campaigns of our politicians. Carroll shows how over the past six decades the Pentagon World War II converted the United States into a culture addicted to war like a junkie addicted to heroin.

Carroll shows how over the past six decades the Pentagon has systematically exaggerated threats to the United States in order to justify its bloated and ever growing budget. At the same time the ossified bureaucracy of the Pentagon has been unable to adapt to the radically changed international situation. Locked in Cold War thinking, the Generals basically ignored the collapse of the Soviet Union and continued to increase the American nuclear arsenal rather than questioning its size and usefulness. Presidents from both parties have either bought into American military triumphalism and paranoia or have been so intimidated by the military that they were incapable of reigning it in.

Meanwhile the U.

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His family connections provide him with an surprising level of access to Pentagon insiders, but his feelings about the U. He is far from unbiased, but the insight he provides into U. Nov 23, Dave rated it it was amazing. The subtitle of this book is "The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power" which is pretty accurate, based on the book's assertions. Every so often I read a book which really makes me mad about the fucked up way that the world works, and the atrocities and madness which have been perpetrated in our names by governments. Although I am not American, I felt like the story of Australia's post WW2-history was interwoven into so many of the events, due to our being dragged into so many of Am The subtitle of this book is "The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power" which is pretty accurate, based on the book's assertions.

Although I am not American, I felt like the story of Australia's post WW2-history was interwoven into so many of the events, due to our being dragged into so many of America's conflict. The book follows the history, political and power developments which occurred through the lifetime of the Pentagon from its construction in the second world war, through to what it has become today. Chiefly the author focuses on a number of events which occurred on September the 11th in various years, and it is certainly interesting how so many pivotal events occurred on that particular date.

The author certainly takes an anti-military industrial complex stance in the book. However, it is hard not to feel that the world may well have been a different place if it were not for military forces creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion about what the Russians were doing in the world. What great works, or how many of the world's problems might have been solved if billions and trillions were not being spent on preparing for a nuclear war which never came.

I remember reading a quote a while ago, although its origin now escapes me, which goes something like this: "How many times over do we need to be able to kill everyone on the planet with nuclear weapons? About three times should do it. All in all, House of War is an interesting look at the relationship between the military leadership and the civilian politicians they are answerable to throughout the decades. Sep 21, George Polley rated it it was amazing. Once I picked James Carroll's huge history of the U. It is fascinating, upsetting, and because I lived through its history, utterly believable.

But it has not been popular with everyone: some reviewers have panned it as distorted and biased they are in the minority , and I would guess it has received a very negative response from the Bush Administration, the Pentagon and the CIA. Three things stand out for me in this fine book: 1 the powe Once I picked James Carroll's huge history of the U. Three things stand out for me in this fine book: 1 the power of the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower so eloquently cautioned against; 2 the power of the Defense Department bureaucracy over other branches of government, including the President and Congress; and 3 the insanity of some of its top officers and their political allies as they planned and contemplated devastating attacks against those whom they considered enemies.

When people talk about plans to drop atomic and hydrogen bombs and killing hundreds of millions of "the enemy"; when they talk about "winning" when only three people have survived such a holocaust two of "us" and one of "them", those people are out of their minds. They are not living in reality. They are insane. If James Carroll's massive book does nothing else, it eloquently documents what happens when leaders begin to think in terms of "us" versus "them", to divide the world into opposing camps of "winners versus losers", "us" versus "them", and arm themselves with weapons of such appalling destructiveness that the consequences of such recklessness is mind-numbing to contemplate.

Sep 22, MikeS rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction. I first heard about this book as James Carroll was discussing the history of U. House of War is a very enlightening if frustrating read into the history of U. House of War presents a well researched and cited version of U. Jun 15, Patrick Shrier rated it did not like it Recommends it for: nobody. If you want to know what history looks like, particularly American history, from the perspective of someone who sees evil and nefarious dealings in just about every single action taken by the United States then this is the book for you.

I never thought I would see the day when the Marshall Plan would be described as economic warfare but it is in this book and that is just one example. I found it difficult to suspend disbelief and finish this book but i managed to man up and do so. This is histor If you want to know what history looks like, particularly American history, from the perspective of someone who sees evil and nefarious dealings in just about every single action taken by the United States then this is the book for you.

This is history of the Zinn School. That is, it is a history written by a person consumed with spite and self-loathing for the culture and nation that nurtured and created them. I would call this book a waste of paper but that is not strong enough. It is worthwhile in one respect though. If you can see beyond the banality and fake moralism the intense dislike of the modern American left for the United States is plainly on display. I found myself wondering, if the author finds America so evil why is he still here?

I cannot recommend this book except as an example of what infinitely biased history and twisted facts look like. Mar 07, Thomas rated it it was amazing Shelves: memoir-autobio , audiobook , history. Carroll portrays the Pentagon as a kind of self-sustaining war machine, the engine of the Military Industrial Complex that has consumed American foreign policy at least since the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo. One thing that distinguishes this account from similar critiques of American power Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson is that Carroll weaves his ambitious, capital-H History of the Defense Department together with his own personal history.

As the son of a top brass Air Force bureaucrat, he went Carroll portrays the Pentagon as a kind of self-sustaining war machine, the engine of the Military Industrial Complex that has consumed American foreign policy at least since the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo. As the son of a top brass Air Force bureaucrat, he went from scampering around the Pentagon's massive ramps and hallways to protesting with hippies in the parking lot.

It's a unique perspective that, I think, insulates him from critics who claim that he just hates the military.

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One GoodReads reviewer derisively called this book, "history of the Zinn school" -- which is certainly the case. Zinn was a strong critical voice in a world of American exceptionalism and Zinn himself flew bombing missions in World War II, where he bore witness to the rise of "total war" logic.


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So yes, that would be an accurate statement. Sep 09, Alicia rated it really liked it. House of War is the story of the Pentagon.

Publisher Description

The author, a self-described beatnik, is the son of a general who spent his career at the Pentagon. Noting ironically that the birth of the Pentagon matches exactly the birth of the Atomic bomb he takes through the years showing how each president has effect the nuclear arms race for good and bad. He also make a point of highlighting Gorbachev's key role in ending the cold war and starting the disarmament process.