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American Power and the New Mandarins (Pelican) Paperback – October 25, 1969


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Product Details

  • Series: Pelican
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin USA (P); Browning of Pages edition (October 25, 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140211268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140211269
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,090,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Whether assessing U.S. policy in the Middle East (Fateful Triangle) or analyzing the events of September 11 (9-11), linguist, intellectual giant and moral authority Chomsky has made a brilliant career out of telling his fellow Americans things they didn't want to hear. And it all began with this collection of provocative essays (first published by Pantheon in 1969), each advancing a cogent, rigorous argument for why we shouldn't have been in Vietnam. In his opening piece, Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship, Chomsky establishes the premise that U.S. presence in Southeast Asia was little more than updated imperialism; that theory informs much of the writing that follows. In The Logic of Withdrawal, Chomsky methodically debunks the accepted reasons for U.S. intervention in a foreign civil war, and in On Resistance, he restates his case even more bluntly, writing that no one has appointed us judge and executioner for Vietnam or anywhere else. If it merely recalled the heady debates of a generation past, this volume would have been well worth reprinting. But at this moment in history, as America teeters on the brink of another war, Chomsky's ruminations about our role on the world stage take on renewed relevance.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Noam Chomsky is professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A world-renowned linguist and political activist, he is the author of numerous books, including Manufacturing Consent, The Fateful Triangle, Deterring Democracy, and Reflections on Language. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. A member of the American Academy of Science, he has published widely in both linguistics and current affairs. His books include At War with Asia, Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle: The U. S., Israel and the Palestinians, Necessary Illusions, Hegemony or Survival, Deterring Democracy, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
American Power and the New Mandarins, first published in 1967, is a collection of essays by Noam Chomsky about the Vietnam War and related subjects. Originally famous for his contributions to linguistics, Chomsky began writing extensively about U.S. foreign policy during the Vietnam War, and this collection is the first of his many political books. While the subject matter is a bit dated, those who are interested in either the intellectual climate during the Vietnam era or the origins of Chomsky's career as a critic of U.S. policy will find plenty to interest them in this book.
Chomsky's primary goal in American Power and the New Mandarins is not to convince the reader that the Vietnam War was wrong. On this issue, he says that "Anyone who puts a fraction of his mind to the task can construct a case [against the war] that is overwhelming" (9). Rather, his goal is to illustrate the degree to which American intellectuals supported the war, or at least the assumptions behind it. Many people remember the Vietnam War as a time of widespread protest against U.S. policy, with intellectuals and the youth leading the way. Chomsky argues that the war's "opponents" were often not concerned with the moral issues related to the war, but rather with the fact that the war seemed to be unwinnable and was costing too many American lives. The implication is that these intellectuals would not be protesting if the U.S. had crushed the Vietnamese resistance without significant loss of American life (Vietnamese life being irrelevant).
The book is made up of eight essays of varying length, and an introduction and an epilogue.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Chris on February 8, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of essays from 1966 through 1968, Noam Chomsky's first political book, published in 1969 when he was fourty years old, after he had established himself as the Einstein of linguistics. Of course, it's a little bit dated but it's remarkable how little Chomsky's critique has changed, how cogent it was from its very beginning. Many of the thoughts in this book, certainly on resistance to the state, have great pertinancy today.
His target was the liberal intelligensia, the "best and the brightest." These brethren (Douglas Pike, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Samuel Huntington, Walt Rostow, Dean Rusk, New York Times correspondent Neal Sheehan et. al), Chomsky shows quite compellingly, helped engineer and/or provided intellectual rationalization for one of the most barbaric wars in human history. These rationalizations were quite openly expressed in the newspapers, journals of opinion, congressional testimony, U.S. AID reports, and so on. They went something like this: We are fighting against the National Liberation Front, the so-called Viet Cong which enjoys great support amongst the South Vietnamese population and has received little aid from the North. The fact that it is to a large extent supported by the population is irrelevant. The NLF threaten our security. No indiginous force in South Vietnam, with the exception of the Buddhists, has any remotely comparable level of support. Therefore, since we can't compete in the political field, in 1954 we violated the Geneva agreements and set up a terror and torture regime in South Vietnam, with large numbers of American "advisors" helping, that used extreme violence to help compensate for its lack of political support.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Louis Molloy on October 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
During the Vietnam war the United States used its enormous military power to try to install in South Vietnam a minority government of U.S. choice, with its military operations based on the knowledge that the people there were the enemy. This country killed millions and left Vietnam (and the rest of Indochina) devastated. A Wall Street Journal report in 1997 estimated that perhaps 500,000 children in Vietnam suffer from serious birth defects resulting from the U.S. use of chemical weapons there. Seems fairly reasonable to protest against this, surely?... This was and is a groundbreaking book, and ....
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "frankmpotsdam" on July 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I recently reread Chomsky's classic. It's very enlightening to see the parallels as well as the differences between the role America's "intelligencia" played during the Vietnam War and the role they are playing now with just another war "won".
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