BOOKS: Richard Rhodes on Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb
- Written by Marie Neptune
Richard Rhodes, author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Simon and Schuster, 1986), reviews five recent books, including "the first full biography of [J. Robert Oppenheimer's] life, rich in new revelations." ...
BOOK: Michiko Kakutani reviews Philip Caputo's <I>Acts of Faith</I>
- Written by Fran Lucientes
Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times, arguably the most influential and accomplished critic regularly writing book reviews in U.S. mainstream media, is forecasting a great future for Philip Caputo's new novel. -- "Acts of Faith will be to the era of the Iraq war," she writes, "what Graham Greene's novel The Quiet American became to the Vietnam era: a parable about American excursions abroad and the dangers of missionary zeal, a Conradian tale about idealism run amok, capitalistic greed sold as paternalistic benevolence, ignorance disguised as compassion." -- She finds the characters much more interesting than those that appear in earlier novels by Caputo, and as for the plot, it's a "story that possesses all the suspense and momentum of a Hollywood thriller and all the gravitas of a 19th-century novel." -- Regis Behe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review conducted a phone interview with Caputo that revealed how much the novel is based on Caputo's firsthand experience. -- Of the Sudan, Caputo says: "There's just an irreconcilable difference between Arab Sudan and Southern Sudan, which is black and primarily Christian or animist. The country was invented by the British, like an awful lot of the countries in Africa were invented by the colonial powers. It's very difficult to merge these two cultures into one, probably impossible." ...
BOOK EXCERPT: Andrew Bacevich's <I>The New American Militarism</I>
- Written by Donna Quexada
Andrew Bacevich is the author of the new book The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced By War (Oxford UP, 2005). -- Chalmers Johnson strongly recommends it, and Tom Engelhardt says the book is of "surpassing interest." -- Bacevich identifies with conservatism, but says his "disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute. Fiscal irresponsibility, a buccaneering foreign policy, a disregard for the Constitution, the barest lip service as a response to profound moral controversies: these do not qualify as authentically conservative values." -- Following Engelhardt's intro are some passages from the first chapter of The New American Militarism, which in the book is entitled "Wilsonians under Arms" but here, "The Normalization of War." -- Bacevich identifies in this chapter the indices of what he calls America's "advancing militarism": (1) the size and scope of the military establishment; (2) the ideology of supremacy and an increased propensity to use force, "leading, in effect, to the normalization of war"; (3) national acceptance of "a new aesthetic of war" and an "enjoyment" of war as "grand pageant, performance art, or a perhaps temporary diversion"; (4) promotion of the social status of the military. -- Perhaps because he himself only recently noticed them, Bacevich sometimes writes as though he is the first to notice what are in fact obvious features of the U.S. society, and he exhibits what is for an academic specialist (he teaches international relations at BU) a remarkably parochial perspective. -- Thus he writes that the gargantuan military spending of the United States "elicits little comment," but this is scarcely the case: the literature on the subject is immense; it is a preoccupation of the entire world, and receives "little comment" only in the corporate-owned U.S. mainstream media. -- Bacevich ignores the propagandistic nature of this media system in his book, but he should not, as in many ways it is a linchpin of the systemic "disease" he is seeking to understand. -- The thesis of Bacevich's volume -- not mentioned in this excerpt -- is that a "new American militarism" arose as a reaction to the humiliation and demoralization of defeat in Vietnam. -- But this thesis obscures the historical continuity of the national security state. -- It is symptomatic of Bacevich's limited vision that The New American Militarism never once mentions Eisenhower's famous Farewell Address of Jan. 17, 1961, and its prophetic warning of about the military-industrial complex, and, on a related theme, it is also symptomatic of Bacevich's approach that corporations, arms manufacturers, and the recent rise of the private military firm are never discussed (on the last, see P.W. Singer's Corporate Warriors [Cornell UP, 2003]). -- Bacevich concludes his volume: "There can be no recovery without first acknowledging the disease. As with any addiction, denial merely postpones the inevitable day of reckoning" (p. 226). -- But it is to be feared that Dr. Bacevich has published his volume before achieving an adequate diagnosis....