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Publisher's Summary

This landmark, myth-shattering work chronicles the most powerful institution in America, the people who created it, and the pathologies it has spawned. 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.S. nuclear buildup, which far outpaced that of the USSR and has outlived it. 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.S. indifference to an epidemic of genocide during the 1990s. And he shows how the forces that attacked the Pentagon on 9/11 were set in motion exactly 60 years earlier, on September 11, 1941, when ground was broken for the house of war.Carroll draws on rich personal experience (his father was a top Pentagon official for more than 20 years) as well as exhaustive research and extensive interviews with Washington insiders, from Robert McNamara to John McCain to William Cohen to John Kerry. The result is a grand yet intimate work of history, unashamedly polemical and personal but unerringly factual.
©2006 James Carroll; (P)2006 Books on Tape
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Critic Reviews

"An aggressively compelling history." (Publishers Weekly)
"Certain to be one of the most-talked-about nonfiction books of the season." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Graham Topp on 09-26-06

A Great Book

I enjoyed the House of War very much. It is certainly a long listen, but it managed to keep my interest throughout.
Of course, while the ideas contained within represent a leftist viewpoint (as the author readily admits), his insight into Truman's decision to bomb Japan and the concept of "dehousing" industrial workers is really worth a listen.
I think his view of the Cold War is a bit one sided. He seems to suggest that all Soviet behaviour was based reactions to American paranoia and ignorance.
Overall, this is a well researched, well presented book.

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5 of 6 people found this review helpful


By Timothy on 08-14-06

Powerful and Fascinating

James Carroll will make a lot of people uncomfortable with this book. His portrait of the Pentagon is not flattering. However, the scope of the story is wide, thorough and told from a unique perspective; that of a boy growing up in a military family that was intimately connected to America's military establishment. Carroll's portrait of Curtis Lemay is revealing and surprisingly sympathetic. To me, this is one of the strengths of the book; the Pentagon is shown as a collection of people, torn by myriad forces and loyalties. As a Canadian, I've always been curious about the enormous impact that mandatory military service has had on many generations of Americans. Despite my liberal leanings and a mistrust of things military, I've always been impressed by the fierce loyalty that our American friends display towards their troops. This book beautifully describes the military culture, warts and all. You could build an American history course around this book.

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8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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By Ben on 09-21-12

An authentic voice, a treasured companion

This book begins with a son's view of a father, a General seconded from the FBI, responsible for keeping the peace in a fascinating internecine conflict between airforce and navy to control the bomb. Carroll discusses the history and implication of mechanised mass destruction. He talks to those who saw it emerge, those present at its beginning, and they are candid about its psychological impact. We are introduced to its inheritors, we are warned. Carroll's authority compels us to grasp its meaning. This sits beside Catch 22 as treasured companion. It's a warm and resonant reading by Robertson Dean. I've listened to it three times already and I anticipate listening again.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By Andrzej on 08-20-07

Fact twisting

Detailed and passionate story??? I do not know. History of American military complex seen trough prism of catholic/Christian and Hippy philosophy (with lot of personal guilt) could be still quite informative. Unfortunately misleading interpretations of some facts and processes, omitting some facts and processes to nicely wrap up the whole story, make me doubt the factual basis for the book. What we are left with is: ?bad, bad America and god, kind-hearted USSR/Russia?. What a crap!!!!

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1 of 8 people found this review helpful

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