Wed September 29, 2010
"A Coming-of-Age in America's Twenty-First-Century Military"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's program, we speak with Christopher Brownfield, whose new book is "My Nuclear Family: A Coming-of-Age in America's Twenty-first-Century Military" (Knopf) --- an engaging hybrid of autobiography, current events, and military history. At once critical, smart, perceptive, and far-reaching, Brownfield's book offers a quite compelling "insider's take" on the American military and its corresponding military-industrial complex. It's also a scathing critique of the Iraq war. One critic in The New York Times has called this book "entertaining [and] hard to put down because of its rolling, seriocomic thunder. . . . [It's] a book that's going to rattle some cages." And another, writing for Publishers Weekly, has noted: "Now a graduate student, the author of this brash memoir of dysfunction in the armed forces began as a lieutenant on the nuclear submarine USS Hartford, where military professionalism was tarnished by systematic cheating on the nuclear-propulsion exam and high blundering when senior officers ran the ship aground. Then came a stint in the pre-surge Green Zone trying to reconstruct Iraq's electricity system in a unit whose officers spent their time downloading pirated movies or angling for consulting gigs. Tasked with the daily briefing on the collapsing grid --- blackouts proliferated as insurgents wrecked power lines, killed repair workers, and kidnapped officials --- Brownfield seethed as his efforts to address problems bogged down in military bureaucracy. Brownfield was one obstreperous lieutenant: he crashes a party with Ahmed Chalabi and the American ambassador, sounds off to a visiting senator, and tweaks generals to their faces. . . . Brownfield's stimulating, disabused tale of corruption, incompetence, and careerism in uniform is a useful --- sometimes explosive --- corrective to hagiographic accounts of America's militarized approach to nation building."