House of War

  • by James Carroll
  • Narrated by Robertson Dean
  • 26 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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What the Critics Say

"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

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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- Graham Topp

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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- Timothy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-31-2006
  • Publisher: Books on Tape