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Bomb Power

The Modern Presidency and the National Security State

by Garry Wills Author · Stephen Hoye Narrator

audiobook

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In Bomb Power, Garry Wills reveals how the atomic bomb transformed our nation down to its deepest constitutional roots—by dramatically increasing the power of the modern presidency and redefining the government as a national security state—in ways still felt today. A masterful reckoning from one of America's preeminent historians, Bomb Power draws a direct line from the Manhattan Project to the usurpations of George W. Bush.

The invention of the atomic bomb was a triumph of official secrecy and military discipline—the project was covertly funded at the behest of the president and, despite its massive scale, never discovered by Congress or the press. This concealment was perhaps to be expected in wartime, but Wills persuasively argues that the Manhattan Project then became a model for the covert operations and overt authority that have defined American government in the nuclear era. The wartime emergency put in place during World War II extended into the Cold War and finally the war on terror, leaving us in a state of continuous war alert for sixty-eight years and counting.

The bomb forever changed the institution of the presidency since only the president controls "the button" and, by extension, the fate of the world. Wills underscores how radical a break this was from the division of powers established by our founding fathers and how it, in turn, has enfeebled Congress and the courts. The bomb also placed new emphasis on the president's military role, creating a cult around the commander in chief. The tendency of modern presidents to flaunt military airs, Wills points out, is entirely a postbomb phenomenon. Finally, the Manhattan Project inspired the vast secretive apparatus of the national security state, including intelligence agencies such as the CIA and NSA, which remain largely unaccountable to Congress and the American people.

Wills recounts how, following World War II, presidential power increased decade by decade until reaching its stunning apogee with the Bush administration. Both provocative and illuminating, Bomb Power casts the history of the postwar period in a new light and sounds an alarm about the continued threat to our Constitution.

Publication Details

Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Imprint:
Tantor Audio
Edition:
Unabridged
Publication Date:
2010

Format

  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook 214.6 MB
  • OverDrive Listen 214.5 MB

Garry Wills (Author)

Garry Wills is an adjunct professor and cultural historian in the Department of History at Northwestern Universityand the author of Lincoln at Gettysburg, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.

More about Garry Wills
Bomb Power
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