on 16 May 2009
The Limits of Power is perhaps the most accurate study of recent American political and military history, written by someone who offers as balanced an insight as any you may receive today. I read the review of this in the Washington Post and had to buy it. At less than 200 pages this reads as easily as a novel but is packed with perceptive observations about the American people and those who run (or aspire to run) the country. The exposition of Congress today is perhaps one of the best pieces and is well worth close study. Equally gritty is the study of military leadership from someone who truly understands strategy. Bacevich pulls no punches yet it is not all negative. His closing summation is masterful. It is a book that I have recommended to many people - no one has been disappointed.
on 13 October 2008
I first heard of this book through a streamed interview that the author gave on the Bill Moyers show. That interview was impressive, and I'm not someone who is easily impressed, least of all by Americans.
But the book is something else entirely. The author explains the history of the present in about 196 pages, and boy does he make a truly excellent job of it! His written style is fluent, succinct, concise, intelligent but never boring or dry. He is a Professor of International Relations at Boston University, and his students must love him! Not only that, but he is a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam, and subsequently served in the US Army for 22 years.
He survived Vietnam, but ironically and very poignantly, he lost his son, a 1st Lieutenant, in Iraq. The book is dedicated to his son's memory. And it is an immensly worthy dedication. He writes with intelligence, passion and clarity. He shoots from the hip but, like the Zen archer, hits all his targets without fail; at the same time he doesnt hit anything he's not aiming at. Though it is an academic work, there is an almost spiritual profoundness and power about it, together with an almost military realism. He knows what he is about, and is not afraid to say it, no matter whose toes get trodden on.
If I had a million pounds (2 million dollars) I would buy every copy of this book I could find, and distribute it for free on every university and college campus in the US. It is that good an investment, and that important.