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Reconsidering the American Way of War

US Military Practice from the Revolution to Afghanistan
Narrated by: James Killavey
Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins
Categories: History, Military
4 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This audiobook challenges several longstanding notions about the American way of war. It examines US military practice (strategic and operational) from the War of Independence to the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan to determine what patterns, if any, existed in the way Americans have used military force. Echevarria surveys all major US wars and most every small conflict in the country's military history. He argues that the popular notion that the American way of war is astrategic, apolitical, and obsessed with using overwhelming force is wrong. Rather, America's decisions to go to war and strategies in war have throughout history been shaped by political considerations, with both negative and positive results, and the amount of force employed was rarely overwhelming or decisive. Echevarria closes the gap between histories of strategic theory and the popular battle and campaign narratives that comprise the bulk of US military history. This book hopes to force a reexmination of the true characteristics of the American way of war with an eye toward implications for the future.

©2014 Georgetown University Press (P)2014 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"…a must-read for military officers, politicians, academics - and pundits - who all too often ignore the inherently pragmatic nature of the American approach to war..." (David E. Johnson, director, chief of staff of the Army Strategic Studies Group)
“"his book is both the best analysis of the American way of war debate and a provocative historical interpretation of how the US has waged war. An essential contribution to one of the most significant issues in current US military policy." (Brian McAllister Linn, Ralph R. Thomas Professor of Liberal Arts, Texas A&M University)

What listeners say about Reconsidering the American Way of War

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  • Joe
  • 25-11-2014

Excellent overview of complex subject

If you could sum up Reconsidering the American Way of War in three words, what would they be?

That is really impossible..complex stuff cannot be summed up in three words.

What did you like best about this story?

Great a great overall view of the topic with many specific examples.

Which scene was your favorite?

No "scenes" in this non-fiction work.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Noo....Has to be taken in small doses. There is a lot to digest.

Any additional comments?

Reader did a good job on what must have been a very difficult task. For military officers, this is a must read...or listen.. so that past mistakes are not made all over again.

73 people found this helpful

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  • Martin
  • 19-05-2015

Must read for military.

Would you consider the audio edition of Reconsidering the American Way of War to be better than the print version?

Much easier to understand. I had to read this for a class on military history and found it rough going. It's very dense and the sentence structure seems awkward at times...at least for me. I found listening to it a little at a time - 30 minutes or so, to be much easier since the reader did much of the work of "pharsing" the text and it actually became pretty clear what the author was talking about.

What other book might you compare Reconsidering the American Way of War to and why?

The Art of War but, of course, much more modern.

What does James Killavey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Already said it...did a great job of making a complex book easier to understand.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not really.

Any additional comments?

Thank you, Audible. One of the side benefits of listening is that, during class discussions, I was one of the few who pronounced the many difficult names correctly. The professor was very impressed and my classmates a bit envious. I wish all my required readings were in Audiobook form.

47 people found this helpful

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  • George
  • 19-05-2015

Strategic implications for future.

Would you listen to Reconsidering the American Way of War again? Why?

Yes...very "dense" book with complex ideas. I've already listened twice and plan to do it at least one more time.

What did you like best about this story?

Many people, including many in the military, think there is and always has been an American "Way of War," that emphasizes overwhelming and crushing victories no matter what the strategic goals are. The author's thorough survey of American military history points out enormous variety in military practice, and that far more attention to political control was given than is usually recognized. The ideas in this book have huge implications for any future conflicts and should be read ( or heard ) but anyone in the military involved in strategic planning.

Have you listened to any of James Killavey’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, I have. He is one of my favorite narrators and did his usual good job.

Any additional comments?

This is an important book and, in my opinion, should be required reading by all U.S. military officers or officers-to-be and by all politicians involved with military decision making.

46 people found this helpful

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  • cindilla
  • 19-05-2015

Should be required reading for all U.S. military.

Would you consider the audio edition of Reconsidering the American Way of War to be better than the print version?

Yes....easier to understand. I have the print version but had to keep backing up in order to have some parts make sense. I did not have to do that when listening.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Reconsidering the American Way of War?

Whole section about Vietnam.

Which character – as performed by James Killavey – was your favorite?

No characters but I must say the reader did a great job. There were many difficult names and places to pronounce and the syntax was often complex. Must have taken a lot of preparation.

Any additional comments?

Audio version made a book full of complex ideas much easier to understand.

46 people found this helpful

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  • Edward
  • 22-05-2015

Great way to get required reading done.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Actually I got this book for my son who is attending the War College. This was a required reading and he was having trouble getting though it.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

I listened to it as well and found it fascinating.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Nope..too long and too dense.

Any additional comments?

My son told me listening to it was much easier since the writing style was convoluted at times. Also told me he got "points" in class for correctly pronouncing some of the names that were mentioned in the book. We both thought the reader did an excellent job.

44 people found this helpful

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  • Henry
  • 25-05-2015

Well researched

If you could sum up Reconsidering the American Way of War in three words, what would they be?

astute looking back

What about James Killavey’s performance did you like?

Very good job with a very difficult read.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No..too dense

Any additional comments?

As others have say, military men and politicians should read this to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.

32 people found this helpful

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  • Gerry
  • 27-07-2015

Good analysis

This is a good analysis of American military practice but is a little dry at times. The narration is functional rather than impressive, but with content like this it's hard to add life to it.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Leslie
  • 23-05-2015

Very insightful

Would you listen to Reconsidering the American Way of War again? Why?

Yes. This is a rather "dense" book. I intend to listen to it at least once more.

Have you listened to any of James Killavey’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have. He does his usual excellent job.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

This is not the kind of book that could be made into a film.

Any additional comments?

As other reviewers have said...this should be required reading for anyone involved at high levels of the military and for all politicians. We should not keep making the same mistakes over and over.

40 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen
  • 23-11-2016

Reconsidering the American Way of War

The book is well-thought out and research. I do not argue with the premise that politics shape the decision to go to war and war-waging. I argue with the premise that there is an assumption that we have these decisions and tactics are apolitical. I do not think any country or group takes arms without a political input; it is a matter of degree that politics shape war at the strategic, operational, and tactical level. I guess there is a school of scholars who have been saying war making is apolitical.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David Bogosian
  • 11-01-2020

Dreadful reading!

One might expect that a professional reader would:

a) Not have difficulty pronouncing r's

b) Be able to distinguish cavalry (soldiers on horseback) from Calvary (the hill where Jesus was crucified)

c) Refrain from introducing new syllables into words (i-tit-erative instead of iterative)

d) Know how to pronounce Latin phrases such as sui generis (read as "soo - eye" instead of "soo - ee")

Such expectations would be bitterly disappointed by the appalling performance of Mr Killavey. Aside from such minutiae, his overall approach to the book is reminiscent of 1950s propaganda movies, with exaggerated mannerisms which rapidly begin to grate on the reader's nerves.

With regard to content, the book is reasonably interesting and argues its cases effectively. It provides an interesting summary of all significant military engagements in which the US military has been involved over the course of our nation's history. It's primarily a rebuttal to someone else's book from the 1970s, so if you are not invested in that argument (whether or not there is such a thing as the "American way of war"), you will likely not find the book terribly compelling.