The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege…And How We Can Be Safe Again

Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, recalls the agency’s creation and early history in a memoir of his time performing the most thankless yet rewarding job in America. The author was governor of Pennsylvania when President Bush tapped him to coordinate the federal domestic counterterrorism effort after September 11. In a massive reorganization, Congress consolidated 22 agencies—from the Coast Guard to the INS—under the Department of Homeland Security. Ridge acknowledges his missteps, laments the baleful effects of politics and turf on his department and decries unfavorable media coverage. He also endeavors, unconvincingly, to defend the work of the Transportation Security Administration and the color-coded terror alert system. Hurricane Katrina did not occur on Ridge’s watch, but disaster relief is one of DHS’s responsibilities, and he cannot resist a self-serving analysis of the debacle. Ridge concludes with a series of recommendations for his successors, including a national identification system, immigration reform, energy independence and a reorganization of DHS along regional lines. DHS remains a work in progress, and Ridge’s singular perspective recommends his memoir to policy makers, students and concerned citizens. (Sept.)

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