“Tells how America, since the end of World War II, has turned away from its ideals and goodness to become a match setting the world on fire” (Seymour Hersh, investigative journalist and national security correspondent).
World War II marked the apogee of industrialized “total war.” Great powers savaged one another. Hostilities engulfed the globe. Mobilization extended to virtually every sector of every nation. Air war, including the terror bombing of civilians, emerged as a central strategy of the victorious Anglo-American powers. The devastation was catastrophic almost everywhere, with the notable exception of the United States, which exited the strife unmatched in power and influence. The death toll of fighting forces plus civilians worldwide was staggering.
The Violent American Century addresses the US-led transformations in war conduct and strategizing that followed 1945—beginning with brutal localized hostilities, proxy wars, and the nuclear terror of the Cold War, and ending with the asymmetrical conflicts of the present day. The military playbook now meshes brute force with a focus on non-state terrorism, counterinsurgency, clandestine operations, a vast web of overseas American military bases, and—most touted of all—a revolutionary new era of computerized “precision” warfare. In contrast to World War II, postwar death and destruction has been comparatively small. By any other measure, it has been appalling—and shows no sign of abating.
The author, recipient of a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, draws heavily on hard data and internal US planning and pronouncements in this concise analysis of war and terror in our time. In doing so, he places US policy and practice firmly within the broader context of global mayhem, havoc, and slaughter since World War II—always with bottom-line attentiveness to the human costs of this legacy of unceasing violence.
“Dower delivers a convincing blow to publisher Henry Luce’s benign ‘American Century’ thesis.” —Publishers Weekly