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AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country

1 rating: -1.0
A book by Kathy Roth-douquet

In this impassioned, convincing manifesto, Schaffer (Keeping Faith) and Roth-Douquet, a former Clinton White House and Department of Defense staffer, call for class integration of the military. Their arguments are personal: Roth-Douquet is a military … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Kathy Roth-douquet
Publisher: Collins
1 review about AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's...

Too many stories, and not enough synthesis

  • Apr 17, 2009
This book discusses the overly small representation of America's upper classes from the US military, and how this affects the USA. The authors (2 of them) argue the first point using a lot of personal stories. Unfortunately, they should have included more statistics; hard numbers that break-down the number of people in each branch of the service, mean and median income of servicemembers before joining the service and after leaving the service.

Another set of facts that this book leaves out, and should have included, is the salaries of different ranks in the US military. If you read diaries of veterans from the first two World Wars, one common theme found throughout is that the food, medical care, work conditions, and general lifestyle in the US military was often better than what many Americans experienced growing up. This is not the case today. Basically, pay and living standards in the military have not kept up with the private sector; and this probably goes a great deal to explain why so few wealthy people enlist in the military.

The book also aims to show how our country is hurt by the fact that so few of the military come from the upper classes. I personally believe this statement, and felt that this book argued the point poorly. The authors could have cited dozens of examples to argue this point. For example, they could have brought up the various botched military expeditions cooked up by civilian leaders who lacked military experience, such as the disaster in Mogadishu during the first Clinton administration. Or they could have referred to the torture scandal in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay; and how in both cases, approval came direct from a White House staffed by those without any service record, yet blame ultimately was placed on those in the lowest ranks. Instead, the book relies almost solely on personal anecdotes. Overall, the book's contents is weak for such a strong title. I would not recommend buying this book.

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