The Limits of Power

  • by Andrew J. Bacevich
  • Narrated by Eric Conger
  • 5 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From an acclaimed conservative historian and former military officer, a bracing call for a pragmatic confrontation with the nation's problems.The Limits of Power identifies a profound triple crisis facing America: the economy, in remarkable disarray, can no longer be fixed by relying on expansion abroad; the government, transformed by an imperial presidency, is a democracy in form only; U.S. involvement in endless wars, driven by a deep infatuation with military power, has been a catastrophe for the body politic.These pressing problems threaten all of us, Republicans and Democrats. If the nation is to solve its predicament, it will need the revival of a distinctly American approach: the neglected tradition of realism.Andrew J. Bacevich, uniquely respected across the political spectrum, offers a historical perspective on the illusions that have governed American policy since 1945. The realism he proposes includes respect for power and its limits; sensitivity to unintended consequences; aversion to claims of exceptionalism; skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving force; and a conviction that the books will have to balance. Only a return to such principles, Bacevich argues, can provide common ground for fixing America's urgent problems before the damage becomes irreparable.


What the Critics Say

"Crisp prose, sweeping historical analysis and searing observations on the roots of American decadence elevate this book from mere scolding to an urgent call for rational thinking and measured action, for citizens to wise up and put their house in order." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


A disturbing and perspective analysis of America's problems. From the viewpoint of a non-US citizen, this book highlights and explains many of the issues that intrigue, amaze and affect the rest of the world - but will the American people be able to recognise them and act before their country starts sliding irreversibly downward (or is it already too late?). Highly recommended
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- Frank

Tired of the noise?

Bacevich argues there are three crises facing America today, economic, political and military. As self-contained as each of these crises may seem on the surface Bacevich succinctly reveals how they are in fact very interconnected and reinforcing of each other. While the crises are the stated focus of the book it's clear that "values" are the driving force behind their analysis. The values Bacevich champions are simply pragmatism and a willingness to see things for what they are, rather than for what we may wish, or need, them to be. Amusingly, Bacevich has been labeled a "fake" Republican by a number of closet Bush Administration apologists, but that's to be expected I guess. Bacevich spares neither Democrat or Republican administrations, the historic records of which he easily reveals to be far more similar than different. Perhaps the most damning of Bacevich's entreaties for a return to common sense, and a restoration of the concept of civic duty, falls upon the common citizen. He points out the disconnect from reality that many of us display by not living within our means and how frighteningly similar this mentality mirrors the underlying structure of our entire economy (it's worth noting he wrote this before the recent collapse). Despite being against the Iraq War from the beginning he smolders at the percentage of citizen to soldier, the unfairness of the few enduring multiple deployments while those able but unwilling to serve refuse to force it's end. And he ultimately holds us accountable for abetting many of our politicians in their corruption and abuse of the political system, by inaction, indifference, or both. I would recommend buying the actual book - I bought a second copy for family and friends (a broad mixture of political stripes) and all of us found common ground, more similarities than differences.
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- Nathan T

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-04-2008
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio