In 1973, not long after the last American combat troops returned from Vietnam, President Nixon fulfilled his campaign promise and ended the draft. No longer would young men find their futures determined by the selective service system; nor would the U.S. military have a guaranteed source of recruits.
America’s Army is the story of the all-volunteer force, from the draft protests and policy proposals of the 1960s through the Iraq War. It is also a history of America in the post-Vietnam era. In the Army, America directly confronted the legacies of civil rights and black power, the women’s movement, and gay rights. The volunteer force raised questions about the meaning of citizenship and the rights and obligations it carries; about whether liberty or equality is the more central American value; what role the military should play in American society not only in time of war, but in time of peace. And as the Army tried to create a volunteer force that could respond effectively to complex international situations, it had to compete with other “employers” in a national labor market and sell military service alongside soap and soft drinks.
Based on exhaustive archival research, as well as interviews with Army officers and recruiters, advertising executives, and policy makers, America’s Army confronts the political, moral, and social issues a volunteer force raises for a democratic society as well as for the defense of our nation.
Compact, comprehensive, and empathetic, America's Army provides a much-needed account of the all-volunteer army, from its difficult birth after Vietnam down to its challenging present. An important story exceedingly well told.
Every American should read Beth Bailey's excellent book on America's Army. It brilliantly charts how the huge shift away from the draft came to be and what we might expect in the future.
America's Army will be indispensable reading for anyone who wants to understand how the modern army works and how this democracy 'provides for the common defense.'
An excellent history on a very complicated and controversial topic that deals with such emotional subjects as race, the role of women, and the Army's commitment to combat.
The powerful and remarkable story of how the All-Volunteer Force confronted the challenges surrounding race, gender, sexuality and citizenship in creating today's American Army.
America's Army will become a major addition to the history of the post-Vietnam armed forces.
Beth Bailey has written an accessible and informative history of the [All-Volunteer Force]. It's a valuable reference work for anyone interested in the armed forces. The book has added value today, given the strain under which the military has found itself in fighting lengthy insurgencies in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
This excellent analytical history is particularly timely. It thoroughly surveys the volunteer force's emergence from the so-called "hollow army" over the past decades, and it analyzes such specific issues as the effect on gender roles of the greater number of women in service, the effect on career patterns due to the absence of a draft, and how to instill the warrior ethos, assuming that that is still necessary in an age of high-tech combat. The ultimate questions raised are whether the all-volunteer force doesn't sacrifice civic responsibility to individual liberty and what the answer to that question implies. Intensely serious, painstakingly thorough, and deserving addition to collections concerned with military and current affairs.
- 2009, Winner of the AHF Distinguished Book Award
- 352 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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