Jon Wiener picks the five best political books of 2011

Historians in the News

Jon Wiener teaches US history at UC Irvine.

...To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918, by Adam Hochschild.
I loved this story about a big war and the small number of people who said it was wrong—not the Iraq war or the Vietnam war but World War I, one of history’s most senseless exercises in violence. Hochschild focuses on Britain and on those who were jailed for trying to stop the war that killed so many millions and broke so many of the barriers to what we considered permissible. Written with impressive narrative power and moral clarity, thke book offers an unmistakable lesson for our own time....

...Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, by Andrew Bacevich.
A blistering critique of America’s leaders who since 1945 have asserted the “rule” that they alone must “lead, save, liberate and ultimately transform the world.” This requires a massive military power extended everywhere on the globe, and intermittent hot wars. Bacevich writes with unusual authority: unlike the rest of us, he’s a West Point graduate, he served for twenty-three years in the army, fought in Vietnam and retired as a colonel—but Iraq changed his mind. The “Washington rules” are perpetuated by Democrats as much as Republicans, and also by corporations, banks, think tanks, universities and the mainstream media, all of which make money off the permanent state of emergency....

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