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Posted July 12, 2008
This book masterfully weaves together the life of Senator Mike Gravel and numerous key moments in the evolution and growth of the Military-Industrial-Complex. From his formative adolescent years in Springfield, Mass to years as a spy in Cold War Europe to staring down Vietnam as a US Senator, Gravel has been in the thick of it for much of his life. Without citing specific examples 'many great moments, no need to spoil them', the book is a swift, pleasurable read. Joe Lauria really channels Gravel's no-nonsense attitude and unabashed criticism, often sarcastic and hard-hitting, towards our culture's obsession with war. Ever since WWII, American military has maintained a positive image and been able to push war after war onto the American people. Gravel cuts right through to who really amped up the Arms Race 'USA, as we're doing again today' and the shortcomings of our leadership when they had the opportunities to steer our society away from war. Reading about Gravel's battles fought and his personal experiences really gives a sharp insight into how the Congress can buckle on such fundamental moral issues as life & death. Sufficed to say, most politicians and nothing like Gravel, and that's a very sad thing. The book is rife with personal reflections and candid stories from a man whose life path has been so dramatically involved with the core force in American society. Sadly, it is a heart beating to the pulse military-industrial-complex and its warmongering desires. Read about Mike going toe-to-toe with Scoop Jackson, an unabashed warhawk 'and a fellow Democrat'. Candid encounters with Ted Kennedy and Frank Sinatra--the book has some real gems. Gravel's life really represents the French 'bon vivant' spirit. That, combined with his ferocious moral courage, show how a real leader of the American people can be. Gravel's life story and the history of American militarism really flow together seamlessly thanks to Joe Lauria's masterful writing. I am also currently reading James Carroll's 'House of War,' nearly 600 pages on the rise of the military-industrial-complex post-WWII. In 250 satisfying pages, this book gives a good run-through of how arms manufacturers have crept their influence deeper and deeper into our society 'starting soon after the country's founding, often intertwining with executive power being stretched 'starting even with Washington' to its rampant abuses today. Read this book as a primer and THEN read House of War if you want to read up on US militarism. I'd recommend A Political Odyssey to not just followers of Gravel's recent presidential campaign, but anyone looking for some insight into how the military-industrial-complex controls American society, and how one citizen can work within that system and achieve massive successes. Gravel's story is as American as anyone's. First-generation-immigrant, scrapping different jobs together, enlisting in the Army, moving to the frontier of Alaska and becoming a self-made-man, it illustrates a fascinating life guided by the same human strengths and vulnerabilities that we all possess. Senator Gravel is a great patriot and hopefully this book cements that for perpetuity. Overall a very satisfying read exclusive of the subject matter, so I sincerely recommend to anyone looking for a good historical-political read. If you're in the slight bit suspicious about why America is so war-hungry, read this book. It won't knock you over the head about why it's wrong or not--but it will show how Gravel came to realize how it has affected us and why he has fought so fiercely against it. You make your own decision, and the read will be worth it.
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Posted July 23, 2008
This book was very uplifting, and it was like a treasure chest of pertinent information. It showed the depth of the influence of the military industrial complex in the history of the United States in the sense that more primitive forms of the MIC existed even before 1947, but the MIC became complete in 1947. This book helped me connect some ideas I had in junior high school, and it ultimately made me realize that I wasn't alone in the sense that I discovered that I wasn't the only person who gets upset in the face of insanity 'when I read about Gravel crying while he was reading the Pentagon Papers in the 70s'. I was amazed at the number of jobs Gravel did in his lifetime and the challenges he faced in the corrupt representative government. The book also made me realize that defeats aren't final, a person can evolve, and one can still achieve victories later on in life. We must enact the ni4d because the oligarchic theocratic representative government is not a democracy and will not break the back of the military industrial complex. I highly recommend this book because it paves the path for any pacifist who seeks to put an end to militarism and for any patriot who seeks to improve one's country. Gravel is a leader and an educator.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.