War Made Invisible

How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine

From the acclaimed veteran political analyst, a searing new exposé of how the American military, with the help of the media, conceals its perpetual war

“No one is better at exposing the dynamics of media and politics that keep starting and continuing wars. War Made Invisible will provide the fresh and profound clarity that our country desperately needs.” —Daniel Ellsberg

More than twenty years ago, 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan set into motion a hugely consequential shift in America’s foreign policy: a perpetual state of war that is almost entirely invisible to the American public. War Made Invisible, by the journalist and political analyst Norman Solomon, exposes how this happened, and what its consequences are, from military and civilian casualties to drained resources at home.

From Iraq through Afghanistan and Syria and on to little-known deployments in a range of countries around the globe, the United States has been at perpetual war for at least the past two decades. Yet many of these forays remain off the radar of average Americans. Compliant journalists add to the smokescreen by providing narrow coverage of military engagements and by repeating the military’s talking points. Meanwhile, the increased use of high technology, air power, and remote drones has put distance between soldiers and the civilians who die. Back at home, Solomon argues, the cloak of invisibility masks massive Pentagon budgets that receive bipartisan approval even as policy makers struggle to fund the domestic agenda.

Necessary, timely, and unflinching, War Made Invisible is an eloquent moral call for counting the true costs of war.


“An engrossing story of governmental hubris and media compliance. . . . Solomon offers a necessary beam of light on an important subject shrouded in darkness.”
“For decades Norman Solomon has been one of the most insightful critics of the incestuous and war-addicted American press. His new book gives us reason to weep and also to cheer. Weep to see how eagerly our media promotes foreign wars and the politicians and arms makers who design them. Cheer to know that a few clear-eyed Americans see what they are doing and write about it.”
—Stephen Kinzer, award-winning journalist and bestselling author of All the Shah’s Men
“A powerful, necessary indictment of efforts to disguise the human toll of American foreign policy.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With an immense and rare humanity, Solomon insists that we awaken from the slumber of denial and distraction and confront the carnage of the U.S.’s never-ending military onslaughts. A staggeringly important intervention.”
—Naomi Klein, bestselling author of The Shock Doctrine
“Norman Solomon exposes the cant and lies that underpin the global war on terror, indicting the policymakers, functionaries, and media propagandists who perpetuate this ‘political license to kill.’ Read it to understand how Americans were deceived and at last end what was designed to be a perpetual campaign of global violence and surveillance.”
—Charles Glass, former ABC News chief Middle East correspondent and author of Syria Burning and Deserter
“No one is better at exposing the dynamics of media and politics that keep starting and continuing wars. War Made Invisible will provide the fresh and profound clarity that our country desperately needs.”
—Daniel Ellsberg, bestselling author of The Doomsday Machine
“One of the singular achievements of the U.S. military industrial complex has been its relative invisibility. Enabled by a complicit media, our bloody wars fade into the backdrop of most Americans’ everyday lives, as does the insidious militarization of our culture and economy. Even in Washington, DC, the heart of the complex, one rarely sees a uniform. Norman Solomon performs a vital service with his vivid depiction of the reality behind the artfully crafted veil, and its grim consequences for all of us.”
—Andrew Cockburn, author of Kill Chain and The Spoils of War, and Washington editor, Harper’s Magazine
“‘The first casualty when war comes is truth,’ Senator Hiram Johnson of California said in 1929. Almost a century later, corporate media ever more closely conforms to the dictates of Pentagon planners, shutting out whistleblowers, dissenters, and those at the target end of U.S. military might. Cutting through this manufactured ‘fog of war,’ Norman Solomon eloquently casts sunlight, the best disinfectant, on the propaganda that fuels perpetual war. War Made Invisible is essential reading in these increasingly perilous times.”
—Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
“I couldn’t put it down. This book, written in an easy-to-read style, gets to the heart of the matter. The Pentagon (with an annual PR budget of more than $600 million) has a cardinal rule: Above all do not allow American families to actually see the death and destruction that our government is inflicting on mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters in other countries.”
—Ben Cohen, co-founder, Ben & Jerry’s
“In this brilliant and timely book, Mr. Solomon courageously exposes America for having veered tragically off course, leaving behind its sacred ideals and betraying the very roots of its revolutionary past. In these difficult times when truth and justice seem to have lost their way, a very special and daring book appears out of the darkness of this seemingly endless night, giving us all as a nation and people a reason to hope.”
—Ron Kovic, Vietnam veteran and author of Born on the Fourth of July
“Norman Solomon’s War Made Invisible erects an edifice of evidence showing deliberate, consistent, coordinated, and well-funded efforts to squelch movements opposing the vicious consequences of war. . . . His highly worthwhile book invites readers to embrace his clarity and campaign to end all wars.”
The Progressive
“Solomon offers a powerful framework for understanding geopolitical crises, as well as the unseen yet enduring costs of militarism.”
“Solomon exposes how media lies, distortions, and misdirections represent the abandonment of journalism’s promise to connect human beings to one another.”
—Janine Jackson, program director, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
“When my father hit the black sands of Iwo Jima, the photograph of the flag raising atop Mount Suribachi took 48 hours from the snap of the camera to mothers and fathers viewing their sons on the front pages of their hometown newspapers. Today dozens of conflicts are unseen and unknown by us the taxpayers who pay for them. Norman Solomon now explains how this seemingly impossible situation has become our everyday reality.”
—James Bradley, author of Flag of Our Fathers
“It has been impossible to build an ongoing, effective anti-war movement when the mainstream media in this country has refused to explain to the American people the mendacious pretexts and horrific consequences of U.S. military adventures. War Made Invisible pulls back the curtain on the warmakers and the fawning journalists who enable them to lie and kill with impunity. It exposes the tangled web between the lives we destroy abroad and violence that tears at the heart of our community back home. The book is an antidote to twenty years of U.S. media malpractice and should be required reading for journalists and all those who long to live in peace. ”
—Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK
“Norman Solomon has been speaking necessary truths about America’s addiction to military power for decades, with clarity, directness, and unswerving principle. The message he delivers here is especially urgent in our era of extreme political division: Almost no Americans understand the true costs of our war machine, and both parties are actively deceiving us.”
—Andrew O’Hehir, executive editor, Salon
“[War Made Invisible] builds a convincing case that too many secrets are being kept from the public. It’s a troubling and worthwhile call for change.”
Publishers Weekly
“The great African writer Chinua Achebe recounts an African proverb that ‘until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.’ In Norman Solomon’s gripping and painful study of what the hunter seeks to make invisible, the lions have found their historian, who scrupulously dismantles the deceit of the hunters and records what is all too visible to the lions.”
—Noam Chomsky

News and Reviews

The Nation

Read an excerpt from War Made Invisible in The Nation about how America hides the human toll of its military machine.

Democracy Now!

Watch a Democracy Now! interview with author Norman Solomon about the twentieth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and how the mainstream media helped pave the way for war.

Kirkus Reviews

Read a starred review of Norman Solomon’s War Made Invisible in Kirkus Reviews.

Goodreads Reviews