US Defense Politics: The Origins of Security Policy, 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

US Defense Politics

The Origins of Security Policy, 3rd Edition

By Harvey M. Sapolsky, Harvey M. Sapolsky, Eugene Gholz, Caitlin Talmadge


264 pages

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This book provides an accessible overview of US defense politics for upper-level students. This new edition has been fully updated and revised, with a new chapter on veterans and new material on topics such as cyberwarfare and lobbying.

Analyzing the ways in which the United States prepares for war, the authors demonstrate how political and organizational interests determine US defense policy and warn against over-emphasis on planning, centralization, and technocracy. Emphasizing the process of defense policy-making rather than just the outcomes of that process, US Defense Politics departs from the traditional style of many other textbooks.

Designed to help students understand the practical side of American national security policy, the book examines the following key themes:

  • US grand strategy;
  • who joins America's military;
  • how and why weapons are bought;
  • the management of defense;
  • public attitudes toward the military and casualties;
  • the roles of the president and the Congress in controlling the military;
  • the effects of 9/11 and the Global War on Terror on security policy, homeland security, government reorganizations, and intra- and inter-service relations.

The third edition will be essential reading for students of US defense politics, national security policy, and homeland security, and highly recommended for students of US foreign policy, public policy, and public administration.


'I commend this third edition of US Defense Politics to anyone looking to understand the major cross-currents that shape US security dynamics. Written with expert insight and drawing on a rich set of historical and contemporary examples, the book provides a one-stop shop on the issues that decision makers, elected officials, and military leaders have faced for the past seventy years, and those that will shape defense policy well into the future.' -- Kathleen H. Hicks, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), USA

Table of Contents


1. Enduring Questions, Changing Politics

2. America’s Security Strategy

3. Organizing for Defense

4. Managing Defense

5. Who Fights America’s Wars?

6. Service Politics

7. The Political Economy of Defense

8. The Weapons Acquisition Process

9. Congress and Special Interests

10. Presidents and the National Security Council

11. Gaining Intelligence

12. Homeland Security

13. Veterans and the Costs of War

14. Preparing for the Next War

About the Authors

Harvey M. Sapolsky is Professor of Public Policy and Organization, Emeritus, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and the former Director of the MIT Security Studies Program.

Eugene Gholz is Associate Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, USA.

Caitlin Talmadge is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Military / Strategy
HISTORY / Military / United States
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / General