In This Review

National Defense
National Defense
By James Fallows
Random House, 1981, 204 pp

What is fresh about this book is not its central thesis-that much of defense spending is wasted-for that is a charge that has been around for years. Rather, it is the detailed accounts of the bureaucratic fumbling involved in the development of such weapons as the M-16 rifle and the F-16 fighter. By favoring more complex and expensive weapons and loading them up with "state-of-the-art" techniques to satisfy various constituencies within the Pentagon and the defense industry, we have in the end bought less effectiveness for more dollars. There is much common sense in this book which cuts through the fog that often engulfs defense issues, the work of an intelligent writer who was not beclouded by too much knowledge of the subject when he started.