How Free People Move Mountains: What People Are Saying

   Published by Collins Books, of Harper Collins, September 2008

Publisher’s Weekly, June 2008

“[A] passionate appeal … framed as a dialogue [about] a citizenry more unfulfilled, depressed and alienated from government and community than at any time in history…Their conclusion is neither trite nor simplistic; it comes with the obligation to live a moral life, respect others (not simply those who share our beliefs) and sacrifice for the common good.”

How Free People Move Mountains asks an important question of our
day, how do we rededicate ourselves to an America of real patriotism
that heals and builds our nation rather than allowing lesser ideals to
divide us. Roth-Douquet and Schaeffer have written a book very close
to my heart that asks each of us what we need to do to revitalize
the collective American purpose in our lives.

Max Cleland, Former United States Senator


 I often ask passionate political ideologues, “Can you think of a reason someone might vote for the candidate whom you oppose that doesn’t reflect badly on the person’s intellect or character?”  Most people can’t and end up thinking that half of Americans are either unintelligent or have deficient characters.  HOW FREE PEOPLE MOVE MOUNTAINS models for us one of the most important lessons of all, how to disagree without being disagreeable, and how to search out common ground and locate smaller truths even when we disagree with another’s larger truths and beliefs. 

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of A Code of Jewish Ethics, and Jewish Literacy 

  Schaeffer, an unorthodox religious conservative, and Roth-Douquet, a secular liberal with an ear for the lessons to be learned from Schaeffer's divine, discover common ground based not on consensus but on actual democracy. The real thing, they remind us, is contentious, thrilling, even revelatory. How Free People Move Mountains isn't a political tract, it's a generous, funny model for the kind of conversation we need now. Read Schaeffer's and Roth-Douquet's, and then start your own!

 Jeff Sharlet, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power


Frank Schaeffer and Kathy Roth Douquet are prophets. We need writers who regard conversation with others as essential. This book is a conversation that must be conducted by millions of others. It is scintillating, insightful, candid, and open.  It's not only fun to read, but groundbreaking in that it teaches all of us how to coexist together. The divides within America require finding new common ground. This book is the roadmap to a better place.

 Richard Cizik Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals 


This is a very important book. If a need for common ground in our fractured country ever existed, it is now. Frank Schaeffer and Kathy Roth-Douquet show us how opposing views, through honest and open dialogue, can be reconciled to provide solutions for what ails us. A must read.

 John W. Whitehead President of the Rutherford Institute and author of The Change Manifesto


AWOL: What People Are Saying

Published by Collins Books, of Harper Collins, May 2006; paperback April 2007. Download a sample chapter!


Publishers Weekly: "In this impassioned, convincing manifesto, Schaffer (Keeping Faith ) and Roth-Douquet, a former Clinton White House and Department of Defense staffer, call for class integration of the military. Their arguments are personal: Roth-Douquet is a military wife and Schaffer's son is a marine, and the authors fall within the demographic they critique. Alternately narrating, they relate their experiences with the military and detail the liabilities of the present all-volunteer "corporate" force: the hindered policy-making ability of a civilian leadership without significant ties to the military, the weakening of the armed forces themselves, and "the sense of lost community and the threat to democracy that results when a society accepts a situation that is inherently unfair."

Washington Post logo "In World War I, the United States imposed a military draft for a reason that seems strange today: to prevent too many of the nation's most privileged citizens from rushing toward the sound of the guns. A draft would spread sacrifice beyond the elite, went the argument, and ensure that the country didn't lose too many future leaders. Contrast this with the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003, when the New York Civil Liberties Union challenged a federal law allowing military recruiters to contact graduating seniors at public high schools. "Students," the organization's executive director said, "have a right to not be bothered by aggressive military recruiters."    How did we change from a nation where military service was a duty of citizenship -- akin to paying taxes or serving on a jury -- to one where simply being asked to consider time in uniform is an infringement of civil rights?  In their compelling and inspiring cri de coeur , Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer trace this societal shift..."  more...

Reviewed by Nathanial Fick, author of One Bullet Away, Sunday, June 18, 2006.


Senator John McCain: "Frank Schaeffer and Kathy Roth-Douquet have done our country a great service with the publication of their book, AWOL.  The authors, who watched with anxious hearts a son and a husband leave for war, discovered in that difficult experience a more genuine and wiser patriotism than they had known before.  And now they call on their fellow citizens, for whom national service and sacrifice is an abstraction, to recognize that love of country is a more personal and consequential attachment than is popularly understood among many of the most fortunate Americans.  I commend their wisdom and patriotism to all Americans as I honor their loved ones whose military service has entailed danger and sacrifice and has been a burden on the heart fearfully but proudly borne by their families."

Tom Brokaw: " AWOL is a powerful and timely account of those missing in action - the privileged class of America staying out of uniform and out of harm's way."



General Tommy Franks: "Compelling - sure to spark dialogue on issues of patriotism and service to our country. Written with warmth and genuine respect for those who serve. I am impressed by the research - this book is based on fact, not fiction. As America looks for balance in a dangerous and complex world, AWOL is a great place to start."


Mike O'Hanlon, Brookings Institution: "For such a provocative and hard-hitting book, AWOL is also rather fair and balanced — and generally quite persuasive.  Best of all, Roth-Douquet and Schaeffer are constructive and forward-looking, with an excellent concluding debate between the authors about the pros and cons of mandatory national service versus other options for bringing the "upper classes" back into the nation's armed forces."


Other Reviews and Commentary


"Reading AWOL has made me worried. This passionate collaboration between a Marine wife and a Marine father sharpened the sense I’ve been getting of a growing divide between civilian and military values."  more...  by Ann Marlowe

Today Show  The Today Show.  To see the TODAY SHOW interview with the authors of AWOL click here.

msnbcYogi Berra did it. So did Dr. Seuss, Humphrey Bogart, and John F. Kennedy. They all served in the armed forces. Today it’s much less common for the rich or famous to serve, but that wasn't always the case. During W.W. II, Jimmy Stewart and Clark Bable both volunteered. In the 50's, Elvis Presley was drafted and spent two years in the army. And after September 11, Pat Tillman left the NFL to become an army ranger. In their new book, “AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service — and How It Hurts Our Country,” Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer, would like to see more class integration of the military.  more...

Go to Home A new book by Kathy Roth-Douqet and Frank Schaeffer, "AWOL: The Unexpected Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service - And How It Hurts Our Country," deals with the small number of children of elites going into the military.
    They say, for example, that 400 of the 750 members of the Princeton class of 1956 joined the military, compared to only nine members of the class of 2004. Speaking on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Rep. John Murtha pointed out that only 1 percent of the people in the United States are involved in the war and many of them go back over and over again.
    Is that the reason for the lack of protest? Is it because so few Americans are personally impacted that the outcry isn't louder? more...

    Dotty Lynch is's Political Points columnist.

     Joe Galloway  

Joe Galloway, nationally syndicated columnist, lauds AWOL in a column that appeared nationwide titled, "Nation's elite are AWOL from military duty."  Read column here.

PPI  "Roth-Douquet and Schaeffer are eloquent witnesses to the military-elite gap. …AWOL richly documents the rapid reduction in elite participation in the military -- universal during World War II and still strong in the period prior to Vietnam -- and its devolution since then from the student-deferral era that exempted so many young men from that trip to Saigon, to today's virtually military-free elite culture. And its authors warn of the consequences for the dialogue of the deaf so often conducted between civilian and military leadership classes: "There is a mutually reinforcing relationship between the 'leave-it-to-us-professionals' attitude of some of our military leaders and the 'leave-me-alone' or 'not-with-my-child' attitude of many in the upper classes."

AWOL offers some prescriptions for closing the civilian-military gap. …What this book most endorses is a much-needed debate over a subject that increasingly demands attention: how policymakers with no personal or familial experience with military service can knowledgeably set national security polices, and how a military estranged from civilian leaders and drawn from a narrow segment of the population can really represent the nation. Given our overstretched military, and the sacrifices they are making in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is a debate that can no longer be deferred."

leatherneck logo  Leatherneck Magazine   AWOL” is unique in its scope, intent and implications. ...The authors make an unlikely pair to engage this ticklish subject. Neither served in uniform nor came from what might be termed a disadvantaged background. ...So what changed their views, and why did they embark on this timely debate? Schaeffer took a lesson from his leatherneck son concerning patriotism, Roth-Douquet married a Marine officer and became transformed into a devoted military wife and a spokesperson for our armed forces and their dependents....

“AWOL” makes the case that our country has traditionally been served by our best and brightest. Not so many years ago it was common for our leaders, in both the private and public sectors, to have proudly worn the uniform of our country. Back then, it was assumed that most fit-for-duty Americans would eagerly devote a portion of their youth to the service of flag and country.

This book is clearly written and meticulously researched. It details the growing and dangerous disconnection between our military culture and the general public. Most alarming of all is the perceived chasm that continues to widen between our country’s elected leadership and the military forces they send to battle.

front page logoFront Page Magazine:  The most prominent implication of Roth-Douquet and Schaeffer’s is that the abandonment of the military by our cultural leaders demonstrates a loss of faith in democracy itself.  That is a problem that extends well beyond discussions of national security, military service demographis and how we recruit.  That America's cultural elite have gone AWOL from military service is a problem that should be the topic of conversation by major political parties and media commentators of all stripes.  With the increasing rise in influence of these same cultural elites while the demands on our military are higher than at any point since the Vietnam War, this book and the discussion it hopefully engenders arrives none too soon.  By Patrick Pool.  Read more...

Washington Law and Politics:  "AWOL is a reaffirmation...its clarity and passion offer us proof that this is an issue that needs to be faced." Author Philip Gold, Spring 2006


Ken Allard "The authors – Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer – have the goods, documenting the maddening outlines of “the disconnect” between the all-volunteer military and the larger society it was meant to serve.... Roth-Douquet, a lawyer, Democratic activist and (contrary to prevailing expectations) Marine Corps wife, has a soccer mom’s ear for social nuance..."  Ken Allard, MSNBC commentator and author of the upcoming Warheads


Delaware News Journal  The book's title sums up the problem.  The authors make some telling points. They quote one professor: "Military service isn't for our kind of peoploe."  Good point. Why get off the career track for a year of two to do something for your country?  Besides, none of your friends are doing it."

Last updated 09/10/2008 by Kathy Roth-Douquet