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THE UNITED STATES OF WAR

A GLOBAL HISTORY OF AMERICA'S ENDLESS CONFLICTS, FROM COLUMBUS TO THE ISLAMIC STATE

Vine offers much to ponder about our militarized foreign policy and its deep antecedents.

A wide-ranging survey of the American way of war, expensive and incessant, in support of an empire we’re not supposed to have.

In the last 20 years, writes anthropologist Vine, some 4 million people, combatants and civilians alike, have died in American wars in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen. At the same time, some 2.7 million Americans have been “sent to fight wars that have raged continuously since the U.S. military invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.” When asked if this were a “forever war,” a general replied, “Define forever.” Pentagon planners once called it a “long war.” Now, writes they author, they use the term “infinite war,” which in time may come to embrace China and/or Russia as well as the countless small nations that the U.S. has taken on in recent history. In a fluent narrative, Vine extends this infinite war into the past as well, showing that America was founded on a martial culture that has been at war with someone since well before the nation came into being, with a “permanent frontier” and a penchant for ethnic cleansing in the case of Indigenous nations. At one point in history, courtesy of the Andrew Jackson so admired by the sitting president, the country was fighting five wars at once—not just the second war against Britain now called the War of 1812, but also wars against the Indigenous peoples of the Southeast. This frontier notion meant that “by the middle of the nineteenth century, there were 60 major forts west of the Mississippi River and 138 Army posts in the western territories.” The network of American military bases is no less extensive around the world, and the hundreds of bases and many client states the nation maintains today amount to nothing less than an empire, even if we disavow harboring territorial designs beyond our borders.

Vine offers much to ponder about our militarized foreign policy and its deep antecedents.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-520-30087-3

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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