An unsparing critique of the US military as well as its industrial and political allies, from a been-there/done-that warrior...


HAZARDOUS DUTY: America's Most Decorated Living Soldier Reports from the Front and Tells It the Way It Is

An unsparing critique of the US military as well as its industrial and political allies, from a been-there/done-that warrior who sounds off with all the subtlety of an artillery barrage. A highly decorated veteran of the US Army, Hackworth wrote the 1989 bestseller About Face, detailing his experiences in the military and his outrage at America's blunders in Vietnam. The book launched the author on a new career as a military-affairs correspondent for Newsweek, a post that has enabled him to keep a close watch on the armed forces. Hackworth has been in the thick of the action in the Balkans, Haiti, the Persian Gulf, and Somalia. He has also taken unsentimental journeys to Korea and Vietnam, venues in which he earned eight Purple Hearts. The retired colonel's first-person accounts of these battleground sojourns feature hard-hitting observations on the capacities of the US military, plus recollections of his own time as a front-line commander. Proceeding from the premise that the primary responsibility of the armed services is to protect the nation against its enemies, Hackworth lights into political leaders who use the military for diplomatic rather than military purposes. The author also pounds away at the top brass who endorse such errors. Other targets include Pentagon contractors who produce immensely expensive weapons systems of little use in low-tech conflicts, lawmakers who support megabuck procurement programs that promise to create jobs in their electoral districts, and senior officers with a sharper eye for budgetary advantage than for eliminating wasteful duplication. By no coincidence, Hackworth has a thoroughgoing reform agenda, including amalgamating the National Guard with the Reserves, letting NATO die a natural death, gearing up for brushfire belligerencies, merging the USMC into the Army, and encouraging professionalism rather than careerism in the officer corps. Marching orders from an old soldier who's not about to fade away or close ranks.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 1996


Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996