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Liberty Under Siege: American Politics 1976-1988 Paperback – January 1, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • Liberty Under Siege: American Politics 1976-1988
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Woe unto thee, America, is the message of this powerful, disturbing work by the author of Indispensible Enemies. In Part I Jimmy Carter is described as the candidate of the democratic awakening, marked for systematic destruction by Reaction and losing one battle after another as the press grows "more stupidly cruel as Oligarchy grows more brazenly vile and Carter more stupidly weak." In Park II Karp turns his baleful eye on Ronald Reagan, whom he characterizes as "an ignorant, truthless demagogue." The story of the 1980s, in Karp's view, has been "the exaltation of a tyrant and the degradation of a republic." The military establishment has been fed at the expense of "the poor, the ill, the handicapped, the schools, local services, student loans, enforcement of laws." According to Karp, the Strategic Defense Initiative is a "hoax and a fraud," a "trillion-dollar mirage." As to the president's denial that he was involved in the Iran-contra scandal, Karp says, "You lie, Ronald Reagan; you lie through your teeth." He warns that the Right does not intend to give up power in the post-Reagan era: "It dreams and schemes and relentlessly plots to rule America from the grave." Despite the overwrought tone, this is an important, provocative work by a passionate political commentator.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Franklin Square Press (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1879957116
  • ISBN-13: 978-1879957114
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,512,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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It is critical that Americans more thoroughly understand the processes and motivations of its governmental leaders, and Walter Karp certainly offers a perspective that goes against the grain of popular perception. His critique of the political parties' perfidy during the Carter and Reagan years is thoroughly compelling. His writing style is a bit histrionic, but then the topic may well require it. In addition, the issues revolving around the corruption and misuse of presidential power during the eighties, the siphoning of funds from the general coffers into the hands of the extremely wealthy, and the enrichment of special interests all perfectly mirror the Bush administration's crimes. Those on the right side of the political spectrum should be outraged by the policies high government purports to implement under the guise of conservative principles.
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Format: Paperback
The late Walter Karp, the great overlooked political writer of the last 50 years, turned the full force of his scathing wit and brilliant intellect on modern American politics in "Liberty Under Siege," the last book published during his lifetime. The book was condescended to by reviewers, and it never found the audience it deserved. Never mind the fact that the events Karp is writing about took place two decades ago. You can't understand politics as it works in our country today unless you read this book.

His opening chapter, describing the quiet patriotism and pride that flowed through America during the bicentennial, is genuinely stirring, but the rest of the book describes "Oligarchy's" relentless attempt to tear down the old republic and replace it with a cold and ruthless empire whose citizens "dwell in darkness," forbidden to congregate in public forums, hypocritically lectured about the evils of alcohol and drugs, ignored and lied to by their leaders, who take their money and use it to wage foreign wars, oblivious to the hungry and sick in their own land.

There are no heroes in this book, not even Jimmy Carter, who comes across less as a "tribune of the people" than a sort of well-meaning schmuck who lacks the fire to stand up to the party system. If Carter had appealed to the people just once, he might have exposed Congress's mendaciousness and saved his presidency, but he seemed unable to believe that his own party would deliberately unite against him, even as the idiotic Ted Kennedy tried to stage a coup d'etat against him. That they did indeed betray Carter is proven by the fact that, after Reagan's election, the Democrats rallied behind the new president. What kind of "opposition" party is this?
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I've never read anything quite like Liberty Under Siege. It is a thrilling indictment of the elites in the news media and government, whom Karp accuses of betraying the American people. Karp is a great writer, but Liberty Under Siege, while worthwhile reading, is nowhere near the level of his other books such as the Politics of War and Buried Alive. Regrettably, I have to strongly criticize the book. Karp makes too many far-fetched and unsubstantiated claims in Liberty Under Siege.

Part I of the book is a review of the Carter administration and its struggles with Congress. Karp's theory is that elites in the Democratic Party, e.g. Tip O'Neill and Scoop Jackson, deliberately destroyed Carter's presidency to keep control of the party from the people. I don't think Karp backs up this very controversial theory with enough evidence. Part II is a harsh indictment of the Reagan administration and of the Democratic party leaders. Karp accuses them of colluding against the American people. Again, he does not make a convincing case for this theory.

In fairness to Karp, he does make some valid and important points. He rightly blasts Congressional leaders of both parties for undermining campaign finance laws and allowing money to subvert the political process. He also rightly blasts Reagan for his poor record on civil liberties, especially his undermining of the Freedom of Information Act. If Karp had simply confined himself to dispassionate criticism of the political establishment, his book would have been much more effective. The conspiracy theories will unfortunately obscure his legitimate points.
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