From Publishers Weekly
In the spate of post-Iraq War books, Von Hoffman's tirade is a smart, elegant standout. A columnist for the New York Observer (and author of several books, including Citizen Cohn), Von Hoffman argues that U.S. citizens have been willingly hoaxed into supporting America's foreign policies, most egregiously the recent invasion of Iraq. Von Hoffman employs the metaphor of a giant dome or biosphere that shields America and causes its people to interpret world events in uniquely American terms ("Nations are often imbued with the belief that they are special, but the American credo is that the US is special-special"). Instead of poll data and statistics, Von Hoffman relies on subtle, nuanced cultural analyses to examine the peculiarity of America's hermetic view of itself. A unique confluence of ideology, religion, culture, economics and history has, he says, settled Americans in a belief that its government does little wrong-and certainly a lot more right than many other governments. Von Hoffman points to an array of factors for this belief, notably an almost secular faith in "manifest destiny" and the morality of democracy, media that act as a collective handmaiden to government action, and a smugness that hatred of the U.S. is simply born of envy of American wealth. While Von Hoffman's metaphors and histrionics are better suited to the polemical necessities of a newspaper column, this book is a worthy contribution to postwar annals. The author's informed, unblinking critique of America may not be palatable to the blindly patriotic, but it will resonate for those who question many of the Bush administration's decisions.
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American gullibility for the images painted by our presidents made us vulnerable to the Bush administration's campaign to invade Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction and to bring down Saddam Hussein, despite the fact that neither were related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to acclaimed columnist von Hoffman. Furthermore, the "big lie" and the general duping of America have isolated us from the rest of the world, reinforcing the notion that we live in our own private biosphere. While Europe, Asia, Africa, and the remainder of the American continent question our actions and motives, we act with the strongest of convictions and military might, which make us a danger to ourselves and other nations, according to von Hoffman. The U.S. longs for Pax Americana, or world supervision by the U.S., "under which mankind thrives in amity and free trade." Some readers may find von Hoffman's scathing observations of American foreign policy harsh, others will see them as exactly on target, but all will find them provocative. Vanessa Bush
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