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Fixed Ideas: America Since 9.11 Paperback – May 31, 2003
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Or maybe it's because I don't bulk buy at Sam's Club?
I certainly don't purchase a book based on page numbers.
Didion's concise essay has all the hallmarks that have made her one of our finer written voices. Yes, the text is "only" forty-four pages. (And the price is "only" $7.95.) If you're attempting to fill the trunk of your car, this isn't your cup of "patrician" tea.
But if you're wanting to read what one of our foremost writers makes of a situation that shook the country and the official response that followed then this is a read you won't want to miss.
For those who might carp of the "length," it's worth noting that Didion can do more with one carefully crafted sentence than most authors can do with a lengthy chapter.
Quality isn't measured by page count and those who can grasp that and those who enjoy strong writing will enjoy this book.
Everyone knows of the "intelligence" failures about the "weapons of mass destruction" and the like. This slim book, well worth the new or used price, offers the other "intelligence". It is concisely the good intelligence of a prescient writer who cautioned against a headlong plunge into war based on foolish assumptions and the fatuous dreams of President George Bush and the neocons ("neocons" is short for "neo conservatives" and not for "new con artists" as rational readers might assume).
It's foolish to assert what President Al Gore would have done in the aftermath of a 9-11 attack; however, one element is certain: he would have paid heed to the voices of intellectual ability, as typified by Didion in this book. Vigorous and free-ranging debate was the policy during the Clinton administration, rather than ignoring the advice of senior military leaders and recklessly plunging into war to satisfy an ideological whim.
That's what makes this book so disturbing. War wasn't the only option in 2003; it isn't the only option now. In retrospect, any other choice than war would have been preferable. In retrospect, only a madman would send more than 3,000 Americans to their deaths, mostly at the hands of Iraqis who want all foreigners out of their country, but with some help from al Qaeda.
'Fixed Ideas' is really a misnomer; the reality, as Didion makes clear, is that "ideas" in America changed very dramatically after 9-11 to the detriment of democracy, free speech and rational debate.Read more ›
The book is an attempt to look critically at the "national pieties," or fixed opinions that seem to have gripped the U.S. national psyche since the terrorist attacks of 2001. Didion discusses the "death of irony," conflicting ideas and attitudes since 9/11, the "New American Unilateralism," etc. She also tries to put "the inevitability of going to war with Iraq" in historical context.
Didion's intentions strike me as admirable, but in the end I found the book to be lacking in profound new insight. Although she raises some intriguing issues, the text is oddly inert and ends abruptly. Still, it's worth reading if you're interested in the cultural debates spawned in the aftermath of 9/11.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is just 44 pages (probably should have read the description closer) and while the topic is interesting, it seems unfinished? Read morePublished 21 months ago by MoSchu
A keeper for the ages, couldn't put it down, how beautifully she gets down what I have been thinking for so many years, and then her use of language, a level I could never reach, a... Read morePublished on June 6, 2013 by katykay