Review & Giveaway of DRIFT: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow

I am not very well versed in politics, government or military history, but I do enjoy listening to NPR, watching national news broadcasts every evening and the occasional talking head shows, including The Rachel Maddow Show. I had downloaded the audiobook version of her book DRIFT: The Unmooring of American Military Power last fall but hadn’t listened to it yet. Then, out of the blue, I received a nice email from Jessica over at Crown Publishing a few weeks ago. She offered me a copy of the new paperback version of DRIFT. I quickly accepted and after some pleasant email banter with Jessica, receiving my copy of the book and diving into the book, I am ready to share my thoughts on DRIFT: The Unmooring of American Military Power.

DRIFT paperback

What a history lesson! I did finally listen to a bit of the audio version while sewing, since you can’t “read” and “sew” at the same time, and that helped to set the pace for reading the book and not approaching it like a text-book. I am not a regular reader of nonfiction so I was a little nervous, but there was no need to be. Maddow’s conversational story telling style of writing made for an enjoyable read.

Going into detailed depth on topics that run the gambit from Thomas Jefferson and his thoughts on the young U.S. Military and how to manage reserves and active duty members, to Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign and then administration, to Vietnam and LBJ’s fear of stirring unrest within the country, (instead of calling up the military reserves who were trained and had chosen to be in the position of fighting for their country, he upped the numbers of a draft, sending fresh troops half way around the world to a living hell where hundreds of thousands made the ultimate sacrifice), to the United States role in today’s wars and developments in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade. It’s an incredible number of points in our nation’s history that is discussed here.

Dusted with her humor and wit, Maddow has written a book with great thought and in my opinion, balanced opinion without preaching. I loved one part in particular. At the end of the book she has made some suggestions, in bullet point format, to our leaders and to us, as American citizens, on how to get back to what is important and what could work to make us a more united country once again.

I think the most important quote of the book, and a great way to sum up the message Maddow is trying to get across to her readers, and really our government leaders, begins the epilogue. Maddow has selected a quote by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2007-2011.

“If the military drifts away from its people in this country, that is a catastrophic outcome we as a country can’t tolerate.”

Having friends who are members of our great military forces, and knowing that a small percentage of my other friends have little knowledge of what sacrifices these people and their families make on a daily basis for our country, this book really hit home with me. If you would like an in-depth, understandable, yet conversational recap of our military, this country and the world they effect, and has been effected by, then pick up or download a copy of DRIFT: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow.

* I am hosting a giveaway here at Planet Books of two copies of the new paperback edition of DRIFT that comes out today, March 5th, 2013. Please leave a comment below sharing your favorite news show by midnight, Saturday March 9th PST, and you will be eligible to win one of my giveaway copies Jessica from Crown Publishing has provided. Thanks Jessica!

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Expanding Horizons

Because I don’t read enough book blogs on a weekly basis (yeah right) I am interested in discovering some book blogs I may have overlooked.  Maybe your blog doesn’t come up in the usual Google search or you are new to the book blogging universe.  I would love for you to ‘introduce yourself’ here in the comment section for this post and link back to your own blog(s).  Planet Books averages 100 hits a day (which may not be much for some of you but I am happy to have them) so you could get some new traffic too from those people who don’t know about your blog either. 

I love reading your blogs and though I fell off the blogging and commenting wagon for a while there last summer and fall, I’m hungry for more and love to discover your recommendations for what to read.  Below are a few of the book blogs that I frequent.  On the right of the screen under “Friends of Planet Books” you can find more links too.

Year of the Bookworms 2010
Books on the Brain
Stephanie’s Written Word
The Literate Housewife Review
Life & Times of a “New” New Yorker aka NYC Book Girl
Thoughts of a Lusty Reader
Lit & Life
Book, Line, and Sinker
Nonsuch Book
The 3 R’s Blog/Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness
A Striped Armchair
Books in the City
Hey Lady!  Whatch Readin’?

Book Review ~ The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

From Amazon: Book Description ~ This work was set in Berlin, 1942. When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance. But, Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than what meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

I decided to read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne after reading Lisa’s review last week over at her blog, Books on the Brain.  I am glad I did.  This book is in the young adult book category.  It had been a long time since I had read a YA fiction book and I was reminded of what I thought when I used to read books for my age group growing up.  I thought that I didn’t need to be reminded of different points throughout the book but the way Boyne handled this was very good.  Just certain fictional facts about each character were repeated everytime the subject came up but it wasn’t too distracting.  (Just a personal thing.)

I have read a few historical fiction books set in WWII in the couple of years but none that handled the concentration camps with so much care and subtlety.  Because the story is seen through the eyes of Bruno, a nine year old boy and a naive one at that, the details of what is really happening at his new home in “Out-With” (Auschwitz) are not really brought to the forefront and made clear.  I had a blond moment and was so wrapped up in the story through Bruno’s eyes and I didn’t get that “Out-With” meant Auschwitz for a little bit.  I exclaimed with a big “Oh!” when it hit me.  (I’m not always with it people.  Give me a break.  LOL)  I think that if I had been in high school or even junior high when I read this, I would have been a bit confused.  I didn’t have WWII history until tenth grade I think.  I mean we learned about WWII and when it happened in earlier grades but details like the gas chambers and starvation weren’t in text books till later. 

The story held up and kept my interest throughout and thanks to Lisa’s review I was anxious as I read, especially towards the end, as I waited and wondered what was going to happen to Bruno and especially his friend Schmuel, who lived on the other side of the fence that separated the camp from Bruno’s new home.  The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is an easy read for adults and a good one at that.  I don’t think, like with any book that is set during such an awful time in our world’s history as WWII and the concentration camps, you can say it’s an enjoyable read but it is a clever story that is told well and makes you think.  Sometimes that is just as important as an enjoyable read.  

{Rating ~ 4 out of 5}