"ADRIFT is a wake-up call for Congress and President Obama."

Sen. Ernest (Fritz) Hollings

 Former U.S. Senator for South Carolina

"...there is now more reason to wonder whether America can take the steps that would lead it back toward a path of innovation, opportunity, solvency, and promise. William Harris and Steven Beschloss do a systematic and convincing job of showing how Americans can make these changes--and what will happen if we don't."

James Fallows

National correspondent for The Atlantic


The Sputnik Moment (from Chapter One)

It was a tiny speck in the black night sky, 560 miles from earth and traveling at a speed of 18,000 miles an hour. Sputnik 1, a shiny aluminum sphere about twice the size of a basketball and weighing just 184 pounds, rocketed into space on October 4, 1957. Launched by the Soviets, the silver satellite with four radio antennae ushered in the Space Age with a simple message: beep,beep, beep.

That radio transmission was a sound heard round the world, triggering a combination of admiration, confusion, and fear from Americans. Circling the globe every ninety-six minutes, Sputnik provided a vivid symbol of the Soviet Union's capacity for scientific and technological superiority. Millions of Americans, dazzled by this stunning human achievement, gathered at night to try and catch a glimpse of Sputnik traveling overhead. Many, beset by darker concerns about the Soviets' intentions, worried that this was more than a satellite to study space--this was a Cold War demonstration of an intercontinental missile capable of transporting atomic bombs, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

The startling success of Sputnik 1--followed by the launch of Sputnik 2 a month later with the dog Laika on board--was a serious blow to American prestige and morale. It was a wake-up call for Americans who had grown complacent in their presumption of American dominance. It was a shock to the system, representing a "technological Pearl Harbor," as David Halberstam put it, and a worldwide boon to Soviet propaganda hailing Communism as the more advanced system. Yet even though Sputnik wrought havoc with American pride, it also presented the United States with a rare gift, a singular moment for reflection and action--to focus its collective mind, question what it had accomplished and where it was failing, then think boldly about the future. With the calm leadership of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sputnik spurred a fresh emphasis on basic research and the importance of science and math education to the nation's success, even its very survival.

< Back to ADRIFT


"A tour-de-force of the economic and social changes the U.S. is facing and a call to action."

Erich Bloch

Member, The Advisory Group at Huron, and former Director of the National Science Foundation

"A brilliant and insightful analysis of America's troubles and how to get the US back on course."

Greg Mortenson

Author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools


"ADRIFT is a most compelling read of how and why the USA is slipping from the top, and one that offers a comprehensive national formula to change course. A must read for everyone who wants the best future for their children and grandchildren."

John F. Regni

Lt. General USAF (retired), former Superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy


"This is a book that is just right for this time. William Harris and Steven Beschloss have given the clarion call for urgency in beginning the national conversation. They convinced me that our nation's survival -- as we know it -- is imminently at stake. They lay out the case for the critical four "C's" -- communication, collaboration, cooperation and, above all else, commitment to moving our country forward. Now."

Sue Clark-Johnson


Executive Director, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, and former President, Gannett Co. Inc., US Publishing Division


"[T]he U.S. has led the world in discovery and innovation to produce a standard of living and quality of life unmatched in scale.  Emerging economic powers have studied the model while we have grown complacent.  Bill Harris and Steven Beschloss describe our predica- ment and offer solutions.  Recommended reading for policymakers and concerned Americans alike." 

Michael M. Crow

President, Arizona State University

"ADRIFT is an astute, well-reasoned look at how America went off course and provides the thoughtful, keen road map the national security establishment needs to assure the nation's safety and prosperity."

Cody Monk

Professor of strategic intelligence and cyber affairs, National Defense Intelligence College


Media Room

For interviews, review copies or other media requests, contact:

Publicist Meghan Quinn, Prometheus Books, 716-691-0133, ext. 225, mquinn@prometheusbooks.com.

We've also made available the following materials as part of our media kit:

Adrift Cover

Adritt Release--6.23.11

Adrift Table of Contents

Steven Beschloss photo

William Harris photo