“A dynamic work of reportage” (The New York Times) written “with clarity and...wit” (The New York Times Book Review) about what happens when the ancient boundary between war and peace is erased.
Once, war was a temporary state of affairs. Today, America’s wars are everywhere and forever: our enemies change constantly and rarely wear uniforms, and virtually anything can become a weapon. As war expands, so does the role of the US military. Military personnel now analyze computer code, train Afghan judges, build Ebola isolation wards, eavesdrop on electronic communications, develop soap operas, and patrol for pirates. You name it, the military does it.
In this “ambitious and astute” (The Washington Post) work, Rosa Brooks “provides a masterful analysis” (San Francisco Chronicle) of this seismic shift in how America wages war from an unconventional perspective—that of a former top Pentagon official who is the daughter of two anti-war protesters and married to an Army Green Beret. By turns a memoir, a work of journalism, a scholarly exploration of history, anthropology, and law, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything is an “illuminating” (The New York Times), “eloquent” (The Boston Globe), “courageous” (US News & World Report), and “essential” (The Dallas Morning News) examination of the role of the military today. Above all, it is a rallying cry, for Brooks issues an urgent warning: When the boundaries around war disappear, we undermine both America’s founding values and the international rules and organizations that keep our world from sliding towards chaos.
Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor and Foreign Policy columnist, reflects on her years of service as a senior advisor to an undersecretary of defense in this personal, if haphazard, account that is "part journalism, part policy, part history, part anthropology, part law, leavened with occasional stories." Brooks digests the meaning of war, the potential nature of future threats, and the realities of soldiering while she reports on sitting in on councils of war that track down terrorists via drones and other surreal features of America's vast national security framework. She includes snippets of historical warfare, from ancient societies up through America's disastrous forays into Iraq and Afghanistan. As Brooks jets around the world to such distant places as Uganda and Afghanistan, she often comes across as naive, and each episode ends up feeling like "a strange sort of tourism," as she describes a visit to the Guant namo Bay detention center. She refreshingly concludes that Americans must insist on new frameworks to replace the thinking that has put the U.S. on an Orwellian path toward permanent war. Brooks crams too much into her unfocused work, but she does provide a thought-provoking glimpse inside America's vast post-9/11 national security apparatus.