Alex Abella’s Soldiers of Reason

Due to some unavoidable and important engagements as a graduate student, blogging has been relatively slow recently but I will return with more posts soon. Meanwhile I just wanted to make a brief book recommendation for Alex Abella’s engaging “Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire”, a history of RAND. Abella focuses on the usual suspects; Brodie, Kahn, Wohlstetter etc. and he particularly shines in describing their personalities and mindsets. I have not finished the book yet but it is definitely worth a read; fast paced and informative. The one gripe I have is that Abella seems to overemphasize RAND’s influence (a fact exemplified by the name) and sometimes attaches names like Donald Rumsfeld and Chalabi to it who only had a rather tangential connection with the organization. He also seems to be rather obsessed with Albert Wohlstetter who is the central character in the book. Nonetheless, Wohlstetter’s policy recommendations were certainly quite influential and the book would be worth reading just for its portrait of this one man.

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