From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this tsunami of terrifying revelations, juxtaposed truths, and demonstrated facts, Hedges (War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning) argues that the traditional beacons of the liberal class—the universities, media, church, labor unions, and arts–have sacrificed themselves completely to the dominance of corporate greed and unbounded capitalism. We are all to blame and everything moral about our democracy stands to be lost—is indeed already vanishing, in Hedges's view—and those who draw attention to it are banished and booed. While every page erupts with calamities of the human spirit worthy of their own irate broadcasts and bull-horned fury, Hedges is at his best when he unpacks the density of his polemic and embraces the power of his narrative. Regardless of form, however, his most interesting theses include the parallel between the current domestic climate and the fall of Weimar Germany and the conclusion that "Everything formed by violence is senseless and useless. It exists without a future. It leaves behind nothing but death, grief, and destruction." These insights come not just as warning, but as witness. (Nov.)
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The real danger to progressive social ideals is not President Obama’s failure to push through a more liberal agenda or the threat presented by the Tea Party and others pushing the Republicans more to the Right. Hedges argues that the true threat to liberalism is the long and gradual weakening of its ideals. Drawing on analysis and interviews from his long career as a journalist, including 15 years with the New York Times, Hedges chronicles the corruption of such bastions of liberalism as the Democratic Party, academia, and labor unions. He cites the NAFTA agreement and welfare reform during the Clinton administration and union coziness with corporations as recent examples of the merging of government and corporate interests to the detriment of the interests of the poor or even the middle class. He also reviews the long history of assassination and co-optation of radical voices in the U.S. and the singular career of Ralph Nader as a consistent voice against capitalist excess. This is a thoughtful analysis of why and how liberals have compromised principles due to the allure of power and wealth. --Vanessa Bush