Evergreene Digest: James Risen’s ‘Pay Any Price’

This is a story of war profiteering, personal ambition, bureaucratic turf wars, absence of accountability and, always, secrecy.

Louise Richardson, New York (NY) Times

Oct. 15, 2014 | In “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” James Risen holds up a mirror to the United States in the 13 years since 9/11, and what it reveals is not a pretty sight. Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-­winning reporter at the New York Times, documents the emergence of a “homeland ­security-industrial complex” more pervasive and more pernicious than the “military-industrial complex” Dwight Eisenhower warned against. With the power and passion of Zola’s “J’Accuse,” he chronicles the abandonment of America’s cherished open society in a never-satiated search for security from an ill-defined threat.


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Risen is not the first to comment on the wanton excesses of the war on terror. John Mueller of Ohio State University has repeatedly written about the extraordinary sums expended in America’s overreaction to the threat posed by Al Qaeda. Risen, however, brings home the costs by providing detailed accounts of specific operations and the individuals caught up in the counterterror gold rush. His focus is not on the ravages of war wrought in the countries invaded by the United States and its allies, but on the United States itself. This is a story of war profiteering, personal ambition, bureaucratic turf wars, absence of accountability and, always, secrecy.

Louise Richardson is the principal of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the author of “What Terrorists Want.”

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