There is a tremendous amount of information in this book, and it's hard to think of anything that documents more conclusively -- indeed, exhaustively in several senses -- the military-industrial-entertainment-academic-congressional-executive-scientific-commercial complex as it exists in today's America. "The Complex" is a useful reference to have around, and deeply enlightening. Still, there are a couple of ways I think the book could have been improved.
For one thing, I went through the whole book lamenting that it was entirely unsourced: not only does author Nick Turse give no references for where he found all the facts and figures he reports, he didn't even footnote the books and authors he directly quoted in the text. It was only at the end, in a "bibliographic essay" I imagine most readers would probably skip, that he mentions "I have posted complete citations and further information online" (p. 273). Surely, for a book that depends so heavily on the reliability of sources, there was a less severe alternative than eliminating printed citations entirely?
The other thing I think I'd like to have seen is more explanation sooner about why all this matters. Given who's likely to be reading books in "The American Empire Project," maybe that wasn't considered necessary. But I thought the last chapter, "The Homeland Security State," was the strongest part of the book. The text as a whole would have benefited from having some of that argument in the front of the book as well.
Still, this is a very useful and impressive piece of research and compilation, and a valuable companion to other books in the aforementioned American Empire Project (I'm particularly a fan of Chalmers Johnson, as well as Andrew Bacevich, who isn't part of the AEP but covers similar issues of America's collapse into empire). While not everyone may want to read the dense and sometimes bewildering collection of connections Nick Turse outlines, it's hard to argue this isn't the sort of thing everyone should know about.
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Andrew S. Rogers (Cascadian)
Mostly, I'm a moderately prolific Amazon.com reviewer who's giving Lunch a try as another venue for my reviews.
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