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Hidden Agendas Paperback – April, 1999

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Paperback, April, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An Australian-born, London-based journalist and TV documentarian, Pilger might be thought of as Noam Chomsky with a journalist's chops, given his ability to unpack the power relations in the events he chronicles and his trenchant reports from the field. This hefty collection of his dispatches and essays, some of which began as items in the Guardian and the New Statesman, concerns "slow news." In Pilger's words, "slow news" consists of stories that unfold in the shadows of fast-breaking, world-shaking events, but fail to register in a mass media dominated by infotainmentAstories like the death of Iraqi civilians, the exploitation of Haitian children, the forced demise of the Caribbean banana trade. Pilger's most accessible polemics are grounded in reporting, as when he observes the "refined absurdity" of an arms fair or depicts an arms dealer claiming to be a "simple businessman." Better still are his reports from Burma, where he not only met the resolute dissident Aung San Suu Kyi but also filmed slave laborers. Pilger's attack on the British media, from the BBC to Rupert Murdoch, whose headquarters at Wapping, England, he calls "a cultural Chernobyl," may fail to interest an American readership. But his accounts of the newly democratized South Africa and Vietnam's deprivations under World Bank-imposed strictures remind us that globalization does not lift all boats. Pilger sounds self-righteous at times and occasionally overstates his case: the mainstream media is not nearly so silent as he charges. But these essays pack a powerful punch, raising questions thathis peers in the news trade can ill afford to ignore.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Award-winning British journalist Pilger, author of A Secret Country: The Hidden Australia (1992), looks again for the truth behind Orwellian officialdom in Great Britain, the US, South Africa, Indonesia, and, most notably, Burma. Pilger makes a clear and disturbing case that US management of the media in the Gulf War covered up one-quarter of a million deaths, most of them civilian. And the reader may well follow his claims, US protests to the contrary, that the subsequent embargo kept food out of the mouths of children and medicine from the sick. But to go light on his criticism of Saddam Hussein or to claim that Israel is nothing but a US client state that has committed more acts of terrorism that any other Middle East entity seems like old Soviet propaganda, rather than truth. Pilger is, in fact, fervently anticapitalist in the manner of an old-style Soviet apparatchik. Thus, one cannot entirely trust his critique of big media such as CNN and the various enterprises of Rupert Murdoch, though such criticism is gratifying and long overdue. Pilger strikes home the most convincingly when he takes on British arms merchants, and he does so by sticking to numbers and actual quotations from officials. He's at his most passionate in his two chapters on modern Burma, writing about a railroad and an oil pipeline being built with slave labor, even with child labor. One would hardly expect Pilger to say kind things about Burma's generals, and he documents the collusion of multinational companies in the exploitation of Burma, but even here one senses that a fine reporter has veered into pamphleteering. A brave and badly needed corrective that itself seems untrustworthy at times but manages to point out the lies behind slick official policy and criticize the media that sell them, even so. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: New Pr (April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156584520X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565845206
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,350,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Chris on August 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Though the perspective of this book is from Great Britain, the issues discussed in it certainly apply to and should interest the citizens of all countries.
The world Pilger describes is one where the power of multinational corporations is ever increasing at the expense of the rest of us. In Australia and the United States, wages are stagnating or declining for the majority of the population and full time, secure employment is greatly diminishing in favor of part time, service oriented, insecure, low wage type of work, a major factor why the American economy is "booming" as we are constanly assured by its pundits. The "outsourcing" of employment to cheap, repressed, sweatshop labor in countries like Indonesia, Vietnam and Burma will only perpetuate this system. It is a world where the major industrial powers can attempt to put together an agreement called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment at the Organization For Economic And Commercial Development (OECD) that would abolish laws in its signatory countries protecting labor, consumers, the environement, etc. and services for the general population against transnational corporations and allow these corporations to sue governments at an international tribunal but make corporations immune from lawsuits by governments or citizens. It is a world where, at least in the United States, this treaty goes almost completely uncovered by the mainstream media. It is a world where the United States can back the murder by death squads of tens of thousands of people in Central America in the 80's yet its fulminations about the menace of terrorism against it are accepted unquestioningly by the Western media.
In Australia, beginning with the Hawke labor government, and in the U.S.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Rm Pithouse on October 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
John Pilger, like Noam Chomsky, is one of the few writers and public figures who have the tenacity, courage and intelligence to see the world beyond the comfort zone of CNN, the mall and the racist sterotype. As with his previous book Heroes Pilger takes his readers around the world and in each of the countries he visits he calmly and rationally exposes the self serving hypocracy of power. He his book moves from Australian double standards, to the undermining of the progressive English media, the devastating brutality of SLORC in Burma and Suharto in Indonesia and on to the failure of Suharto's friend, Nelson Mandela, to get to grips with the appalling legacy of apartheid.
But Pilger also tells us some great stories about the best of the human spirit. He celebrates the courage and integrity of people like the nobel prize winning Aung San Suu Kyi and the four working class English women who heroically destroyed a British war plane which was about to be transported to Indonesia.
This book is not only a call to an authentic consciousness that has the courage to sees things the way they really are. It's also an inspiring call to action. Read it.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By G Phillips on January 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Once again, John Pilger has looked beneath the smug, facile face of modern journalism to produce a book which tells the truth about issues across the world. From the horrors of Burma, to the hypocrisy of Anzac Day in Australia to poverty in Blair's New Britain, Pilger tells the truth that other journalists will not touch. Pilger is a thorn in the side of the establishment telling the stories that they would rather we didn't hear. Moreover, his writing style is accessible - you don't need a vocabulary the size of a dictionary to read his books. But most of all, Pilger is passionate about injustice and inequality and fighting to change these, and this most of all is what makes his books worth reading.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Matthew on March 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, the previous reviewer did not read, or has chosen not to follow, Amazon's "review guidelines" so, to remedy that, interested readers should know that John Pilger is an internationally highly respected journalist and documentarian. He has won many prestigious honors, including British journalism's highest award, Journalist of the Year (twice); France's Reporter sans Frontieres; as well as an Academy Award and an Emmy.
The work in Hidden Agendas on under-reported events, such as Indonesia's illegal invasion of East Timor (with western complicity), and mis-reported events, such as the US action and legacy in Vietnam, were long overdue when he published them in 1998. Since then, East Timor has regained its independence, and no doubt many of its freedom fighters would credit Pilger's work with keeping a spotlight on their plight and thus contributing to their liberation. Moreover, most of Pilger's work benefits from his witnessing these events first hand, while citing provocative sources.
Pilger also writes with an engaging flair. I still use the first few darkly humorous pages of chapter 2 ("Arming the World") when introducing my Social Studies 11 students to the arms trade.
Although at the time of this writing Hidden Agendas is now 7-years-old, its themes are still current, and I highly recommend this important book.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "paul_mids" on July 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Pilger's book covers various different stories effectively, but the common theme is exploitation of people and global resources, firstly by European imperialism, then by it's American successor.
Some principal areas covered are: Burma and Indonesia - very useful for anyone considering an 'exotic' holiday in either location; the effects of sanctions on Iraq's civilian population; the British armaments industry and how during the past 20 years it has been the only manufacturing actively supported by government; the demise of journalism and the rise of 'infotainment'
There are also precious few journalists willing to expose the lies beneath the veneer of Blair's so-called 'new' Britain. There are also some incisive insights into his native Australia.
Pilger writes with compassion and dry wit. An essential book
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