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126 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agree with it or not, a message we need to hear
Gore Vidal has been a pain in the establishment's keester for fifty-odd years, and his gadflying has gotten sharper, pithier, and more valuable with the passing of each year. In this latest collection of essays, he dares to say something that many Americans are uneasily beginning to suspect but haven't yet dared to utter out loud: the reason "they"--the terrorists--hate...
Published on March 25, 2002 by Kerry Walters

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Expected Better
Basically a pastiche of articles from Vanity Fair, the Nation, and an unnamed Italian journal, the booklet would more aptly be subtitled "How Our Government Got To Be So Hated By So Many Of Its Citizens", right-wing citizens, that is. The main title led me to believe this would be Vidal's caustic response to Sept. 11, and the eruption of so-called international terrorism...
Published on May 15, 2002 by Douglas Doepke


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126 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agree with it or not, a message we need to hear, March 25, 2002
By 
Kerry Walters (Lewisburg, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
Gore Vidal has been a pain in the establishment's keester for fifty-odd years, and his gadflying has gotten sharper, pithier, and more valuable with the passing of each year. In this latest collection of essays, he dares to say something that many Americans are uneasily beginning to suspect but haven't yet dared to utter out loud: the reason "they"--the terrorists--hate us "so much" is at least partly because we're sometimes...well...hateable.
Vidal's *Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace* collects a handful of his recent essays ranging on topics from the presidential election of 2000, to homegrown terrorism a la Timothy McVeigh, to the moralizing conservatism of mainstream America, to an open letter to the FBI on whether McVeigh was acting alone. All of these pieces have been published previously, and indeed, some of them appeared in Vidal's last collection of essays, *The Last Empire* (2001). What's truly new and exciting about this book is its lead essay, hauntingly entitled "September 11, 2001 (A Tuesday)". Vidal tells us in his Introduction that the piece was originally commissioned by "Vanity Fair," but was refused publication because the editors thought it too inflammatory.
Inflammatory it unquestionably is, because in it Vidal argues for a thesis that is unpopular at the moment but just may make more sense as time goes on: that horrible as the terrorist attacks on the Trade Towers was, the Bush administration's high-handed wrestling to the ground of civil liberties in the attack's wake is worse. Vidal argues that the waging of war by the "Pentagon junta" is but another example of the U.S.'s misguided tendency to "wage war to perpetuate peace"--a misbegotten policy that has earned the violent dislike of terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Timothy McVeigh as well as the diplomatic disdain of much of the world. (At the end of the essay, Vidal provides an instructive 20-page account of U.S. military operations since 1949.) Vidal agrees that bin Laden needs to be brought to justice, but he argues that a police action, not all-out war, is the answer. The cowboy-style military campaign is only bound to make a bad situation worse. It may snuff out bin Laden (although even this isn't guaranteed), but as is the way with military actions, will inevitably generate more anger and resentment.
This book is bound to infuriate many American readers, even though I understand it's been a best-seller in Europe. I'm not sure I agree with everything Vidal has to say. Occasionally he's long on accusation and short on evidence. But the book deserves reading if for no other reason than it has the courage to ask us not to take for granted the virtue of our foreign policy in general and our reaction to terrorism in particular.
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74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vital Vidal read...., August 25, 2002
By 
Daryl B (Nashville, Tennessee United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
I saw Gore Vidal talking about this book a while back and realized a good deal of what he is saying mirrored my own thoughts about our country and its government, in particular. I'd wager a lot of Americans feel the same way but we seem to have lost our voice and our willingness to question our government. A recent interview I saw with Studs Terkel on Phil Donhue's show commented directly on that very subject. He said he felt that until a major voice comes out and addresses an issue, we are prone to sit quietly. Vidal's voice needs to be heard and wouldn't have been if American publishers had any thing to say about it. After this collection of essays became a best seller in Italy, he was then approached about an American publication and voila!---we can read what some might call an unpatriotic and ungrateful voice about America. A fundamental right we have as Americans is the privilege to question our government's decisions yet we seem to sit around quietly and compliantly while our presidents act aggressively toward other nations, deeming our country the international policeman for the world community. These opinions are called unpatriotic especially after the events of 9-11 but there is nothing unpatriotic about what Mr. Vidal is saying. The people who have blinders on and think that we, these United States of America, are never wrong should read this book. We, like any other nation, have flaws. It is time to look at those flaws, address the issues and hold our government responsible for its actions. This government represents the people and we should have our say. Unfortunately, with good ole Dubya and his cowboy mentality, we have four years that should inspire us to speak out against injustice. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about the direction our nation is taking.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vanishing Liberties., January 16, 2004
This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
What has made America a great nation in the eyes of the world over the last two hundred years, is not its major technological advances, it competent military or its advances in all the arts, but its original pure ideals on what constitutes a free society, and the inalienable rights of the individual living in that society. The founding fathers of the United States knew all too well the corruptive nature of power. The creation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would ensure that those within its government seeking absolute power could be kept in check. In this ideal society, the state has limited power over its citizens, but just enough power to maintain peace within its borders. What is shocking about this short collection of essays by Gore Vidal, is he soberly illustrates with hard fact examples, particularly since the Oklahoma bombing and the events of 9/11, that the Bill of Rights and the important principles it states, protecting the rights of all citizens, is being manipulated to serve a small elite. The people are slowly, over time, losing their rights, because it is said, for their own protection.
As a child growing up in the United States, there were three things I was taught, and that was always to respect the rights of others, always say please and thank you, and Governments always lie. "Never believe a politician, son. Because no matter what they say, there is always a hidden agenda." Time and again, this simple statement has turned out to be true. Sometimes their lies are found out. As a people, however, we have a tendency to forgetfulness, a kind of in-built amnesia, to then blindly vote our dubious leaders back into office. Facing the awful truth, in most cases, is much too hard, because it is easier to accept sugarcoated reasons, media-generated propaganda, and not take responsibility and face the fact that at least part of the problem is with us.
Vidal points out that there has been nearly two hundred `incursions' since 1945..."in which the United States has been the aggressor." As he states in the introduction, "It is the law of physics (still on the books when last I looked) that in nature there is no action without reaction. The same appears in human nature - that is, history." (ix) Might the two terrible events of Oklahoma and 9/11 be the result of past military `incursions' by the U.S. and her allies in other countries?
I found this collection of essays to be both incredibly disturbing and enlightening at the same time. In fact, after finishing the book, sleep became difficult. I don't know whether the United States knows it or not, because it is the most powerful nation in the world, and therefore an example to us all, what they do or not do, affects the entire planet. Australia has always looked to America as an example, (whether we care to admit it or not) and I don't like where our big brother is leading us at the moment.
The basic premise of Vidal's book is the ultimate damage from terrorism is not a physical one, but the true knockout blow is our vanishing liberties. Those in power submit that we must sacrifice or freedoms because we're at war. I submit, without our God given liberties, our rights as contributing members of society; war is moot, because there's nothing else worth fighting for.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect but asks the right questions, June 19, 2003
By 
C. Colt "It Just Doesn't Matter" (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
I bought this book a few months after the terrorist attacks of September 11th because of the second half of its title, "How We Came To Be So Hated". Like most Americans, this is a question I continuously asked myself during and after September 11th, and as much as I wanted to believe the official, "Oh they're just jealous of us" explanation it was simply inadequate. In this collection of witty and often self-congratulating essays Vidal does an admirable job of answering that question. His conclusions about why so many foreign nationals hate the United States are hardly revealing to anyone who has read and researched in this area.
The truly interesting part of this book, however, is Vidal's focus on domestic terrorism in America and especially the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. Vidal corresponded with the notorious Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh and gained much insight as to his motives for murdering so many of his fellow citizens. During the course of his communication with McVeigh, Vidal came to the same powerful conclusions about him, as did his lawyer Stephen Jones. Chief among these was the belief that McVeigh did not act alone, and that he was responding to what he felt was a rogue government that was out to destroy the lives of rural American families. Vidal points out that McVeigh came from a family of dispossessed farmers from upstate New York and that many of the people with whom he collaborated shared a similar status in the Midwest. Many families lost their farms to large agricultural conglomerates whose efforts to destroy family farms and then consolidate them were fully supported by the government. As a result, according to Vidal, millions of rural American know that their way of life is being destroyed, but they don't have a clear perception of who is doing this and how they are doing it. Consequently, radical militant fringe groups have gained tremendous popularity by advocating violence against perceived enemies including minorities and the federal government.
Vidal concludes that while attacks from al Quaeda and domestic terrorist groups bear no relationship to each other they do have much in common including a powerful hatred of American government policies and a willingness to view civilian targets as collateral damage. Anyone who finds Vidal's reasoning to be absurd should probably check out sociologist Mark Jurgensmeyer's book, "Terror in the Mind of God". Jurgensmeyer's conclusion--that among other things, terrorists around the globe share powerful feelings of humiliation, a sense of impending marginalization, and the conviction that they are engaged in an apocalyptic "all or nothing" struggle against their oppressors--strongly supports much of Vidal's thinking in this book.
Vidal may not have all the right answers and I'm not sure to what extent I agree with many of his conclusions, but because he is one of the view voices in public life who is asking the right questions, I strongly recommend this book.
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vidal gives Flesh and Blood to cartoons, April 20, 2002
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This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
Everything by Gore Vidal should be read. He is our last great literary man. After September 11th, I looked in vain in the usual places- The Nation, New York Times, Slate- for Vidal's response to the attacks of the 11th, but found nothing. Now I know why. His essays were rejected for publication. His opinions weren't the correct ones. They were too controversial during the flag waving and drum pounding that was going on. But here it is at last!
Vidal looks at Bin Laden and Timothy McVeigh in his book. Some of the McViegh essays were previously published in his last essay collection, The Last Empire. If you are tired of reading that the attacks on America only took place because the United States is good and they are evil, read this book. Our happy land attacked by the Devil's minions should not be the accepted explanation. Vidal looks honestly at Bin Laden and McVeigh and erases the cartoon images and reasons we have been given of both the men and their attacks.
Some readers/reviewers have been offended by Vidal's willingness to look at the motives and philosophies of these evil ones (and other reviewers seem to be rabidly writing with the foam from their mouths). But how else are we supposed to know the facts and reach an adult understanding of their actions? Without understanding- or at least listening- we can not do anything to stop future Bin Ladens and McVeighs. Indeed, our current actions, as Vidal points out, only ensure that we are manufacturing more true believers.
Vidal's book won't change policy or give us back real journalists, but knowing that it's out there and will be read is something.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yoda speaks...are the Jedis listening?, January 21, 2003
This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
"...Even so, Mr. President Elect, there is an off chance that you might actually make some difference if you start now to rein in the warlords. Reduce military spending, which will make you popular because you can then legitimately reduce our taxes instead of doing what you have been financed to do, freeing corporate America of its small tax burden."
Gore Vidal
PERPETUAL WAR FOR PERPETUAL PEACE
Gore Vidal would not be Gore Vidal if he left the topic of this book at merely proving the more than 200 instances of United States "pre-emptive strike" military incursions that have taken place since the end of World War Two, proving the existence of the philosophy in the Pentagon that is sarcastically referred to by the title of the book. Vidal traces the dangerous link between Timothy Mcveigh and Osama bin Laden to moral anamolies in American foreign and domestic policy in much the same way one could trace the otherwise unrelated illnesses of heart disease and lung cancer to cigarette smoking. In so doing he demands us, whether or not we come to the same conclusions, to look at our own cultural selves and our country's leaders with new eyes: the eyes of much of the rest of the world.
Vidal is often too postmodern for his own good. As he approaches his late seventies (he is the author of twenty-two novels, tons of essays, plays and screenplays and was one of President Kennedy's best friends) his all too self-conscious "ascerbic wit" has begun to have a harder than necessary edge to it. You can almost see how the conversations he is writing for us have really become conversations he is having with himself, in the way a wise old man, slowly but inexplicably driving to Curmudgeonville after giving up on his audience or would-be students ever getting a clue would do. Yet the pearls of wisdom that thread through both this work and his infinitely insightful mind makes the book immeasurably important, and go a lot further in explainnig the souce of both his cynicism and the repressed, near uncontrollable passion he has for his country.
Something is missing in America today, something deeply important for the American soul. When that thing is concentrated or exaggerated to the point of absurdity in an individual (in inverse proportion to its absence in the culture) it produces the actions of the men who form the subject of several of his essays. But the value of this unnamed thing--and the fact that it is missing from our culture in areas where it is needed: our relationship with the non-rich world in and outside of our boundaries--comes clear with every page. That is the magic of great writers: making something invisible felt between every written word.
Vidal is a master whose talent nor reputation have ever been overstated. This book, which shockingly though unfortunately understandably could not be published in America when it was first written, is another of his gifts to the country he loves so much.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Just For Commies, April 5, 2004
This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
Because of today's climate of non-debate, this book was labeled "pinko" by the very people who would gain the most by reading it.
I highly recommend PERPETUAL WAR to those who generally stick to authors like Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter. Not only will it expose them to a different viewpoint, it'll do so in a way that won't leave them feeling insulted.
Pat Buchanan fans will also feel some kinship with this book.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vidal Certainly Gives Something to Think About, January 7, 2003
By 
Robert Campion (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
In Vidal's Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, we see a vision of America as a place where cover-ups prevail and America brings about it's own destruction--from the inside out. Vidal pushes the evelope with his characteristically smooth language and wry comments. Vidal explores the idea that the people who commit acts of terror are bred out of government's interaction with American society and that they are not the derranged psychopaths the media portrays them to be. Focusing on Timothy McVeigh, Vidal shows how human one such "evil" man is. Vidal ocassionally rants of conspiracy theories, but generally offers good insight into McVeigh's intentions. Vidal also focuses on the loss of civil liberties, something which he contends has been going on with great force since the 1960's.
Although Vidal's arguments have a few holes (and he does try to keep them to a minimum with hard facts backing up most of his arguments), he offers a unique and clear perspective on American government. It is easy to lose ones self in his sleek writing style, but at the end of the book one finds that more than anything else Mr. Vidal has exposed some real food-for-thought. Political views aside, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I believe that if nothing else, one walks away after reading this book with a genuine desire to question and reason with one's own political beliefs. All things considered, it was a pleasure to read.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Liberty: Greatest Victim of September 11th?, May 4, 2002
By 
steven abbott (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
"Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace: How We Got To Be So Hated" encapsulates the global discomfort that so many people feel with what is (and has been) going on in the United States, how it impacts our citizens, and gives it a historical context including a twenty-page chart that lists official United States military operations around the world beginning with the Berlin Airlift of 1948 to the millenium.
Vidal is one of the few individuals speaking out about these issues. He is making a tremendous contribution to the dialogue that needs to happen when the major media is all but ignoring these issues. His factual account of the history of US conduct is enabling citizens to better understand history and to better express their concern with current and past US military and domestic policies.
Each time Vidal speaks out, he provides citizens an opportunity to reflect on these these issues and move toward action.
It is amazing that a book published by the Nation Books and Thunder Mountain Press -- a small publisher that has never has a best seller -- is ranked at Number 19 on Amazon's best-seller list. Kudos to Vidal for selecting an independent press and publishing the book at an affordable price.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit thin, but cogent nonetheless, February 21, 2003
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This review is from: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (Paperback)
Vidal is not prone to hyperbole, nor is he a dealer in questionable "facts." He is a defender of the American Republic, and the laws which were designed to uphold and defend that Republic. Laws which have been under attack by both the right and the left since the end of WWII.
This book will leave you angry, it will leave you sad. Perhaps it will leave you with a desire to do something to try to preserve the organizing principles of this country. At the very least, you should come to understand why the United States has, since the second World War, become symbolic of tyranny, injustice and even terrorism to so many people on this planet.
It's time to stop kidding ourselves that we're hated because we have more, because we're richer or more powerful, or have more freedoms. We're hated, in large part, because we have, since 1947, been waging perpetual war all over the globe.
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Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated
Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated by Gore Vidal (Paperback - April 10, 2002)
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