How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything

book jacket plain white with gold bulletsHow Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon by Rosa Brooks (2016)

Considering the United States seemingly has been at war somewhere, declared or not, for my entire life, despite protests in the Sixties to the contrary, this book provides multiple perspectives on the business of perpetual war.

The author worked in prominent Pentagon capacities and provides real intimate details of what it was like to live in that particular bubble.

Those two years were strange, almost surreal in their intensity. For me — a law professor and journalist brought up in a family of left-wing anti-war activists — working for the Pentagon was like conducting anthropological fieldwork in some exotic and unpredictable foreign tribe. (p. 6)

I saw her on Book TV talking about this book and knew that it was going to be special because, as it is described on the cover flap, “it is by turns a memoir, a work of journalism, and a scholarly exploration of history, anthropology, and law.”

We think of “war” as a distinct and separate sphere, one that shouldn’t intrude into the everyday world of offices, shipping malls, schools, and soccer games, and we relegate war to the military, a distinct social institution that we simultaneously lionize and ignore. For the most part, we prefer to believe that both war and the military can be kept in tidy little boxes: war, we like to think, is an easily recognizable exception to the normal state of affairs, and the military an institution that can be easily, if tautologically, defined by its specialized, war-related functions.

We are wrong on both counts. (p. 9)

This is a really good book. Highly recommended. Another victim of the too many books, so little time to write about it more completely. Maybe I will check it out again to be able to write a full post later. It will be worth it.

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