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The Chomsky Reader Perfect Paperback – September 12, 1987

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

From the 1960s to the present, linguist Chomsky has been a prominent critic of American foreign policy, influential in radical and scholarly circles. This collection offers a broad sampling of Chomsky's best writing on the subject. The essays are typical Chomsky: long, analytical, probing, and controversial. Some have appeared in earlier collections; others are expanded transcripts of recent lectures. The most familiar are concerned with U.S. policy in Vietnam, Central America, and the Middle East. Editor Peck gives us an overview of Chomsky's writings in his useful introduction, though he tends to be extravagant in his praise. Even more useful is a long interview with Chomsky himself. Highly recommended for all academic libraries. Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, Pa.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The political and linguistic writings of America's leading dissident intellectual. He relates his political ideals to his theories about language.

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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (September 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394751736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394751733
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. A member of the American Academy of Science, he has published widely in both linguistics and current affairs. His books include At War with Asia, Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle: The U. S., Israel and the Palestinians, Necessary Illusions, Hegemony or Survival, Deterring Democracy, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 73 people found the following review helpful By EriKa on August 8, 2000
Format: Perfect Paperback
Chomsky never asks you to take his word for it. He challenges existing beliefs and paradigms and refutes them, providing evidence of his assertions. You, as the reader, are invited to read what he writes, agree or disagree. Chomsky invites readers to question what information they are given and exercise simple reason and skepticism in evaluating that information.
The introduction to this collection of essays (and informative interview) is excellent. It provides a basic overview of Chomsky's philosophy (if you could call it that.) I felt that this book was basic reading, particularly for those who are new to Chomsky's works. In the introduction Peck writes that freedom and the process of indoctrination go hand in hand... and in America freedoms exist "within an ideological consensus that limits debate and protects powerful interests in ways all too similar to those in which obviously repressive societies operate." The entire book (and Chomsky's many other works) provide evidence of these statements. Chomsky is meticulous in combing for details and wants readers to release themselves from the mindlessness of taking information (or veracity of readily available information) for granted. Conventional media are seemingly free from having a burden of proof and need not provide any evidence to support their claims. This is not only the fault of media outlets. The media do what they can get away with. Discriminating, thoughtful readers seeking information should not accept that.
One of the most apt analogies Chomsky makes in the interview is that professional sports, as an example, are one means for deflecting attention from real and important issues.
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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 2000
Format: Perfect Paperback
An indispensible anthology from America's foremost foreign policy critic. James Peck, the book's editor, presents an excellent introduction, outlining core themes that unite the wide-ranging material. There is much that is familiar to long-time Chomsky readers, but much that is also less familiar, such as personal background that may help explain the MIT professor's remarkably creative and heretical career. Included among the miscellainea, is a section on his work in linguistics, a critique of B.F. Skinner's behavioral approach, and a defense of freedom and equality-- a compatibility often derided in more conservative circles. Of course, there are the more familiar researches on Latin America, Southeast Asia, and other frontier hotspots that define the American imperium. Unfortunately missing because of publishing date are researches on Washington's more recent adventures in Panama, Iraq, and Yugoslavia. Though the tune may change, the music remains the same.

At bottom - and what renders the MIT professor a non-person to state and media alike - is his view of Washington not as vaunted leader of the free world, but as a self-serving imperial power, neither better nor worse than its predecessors, but with greatly expanded reach and killing power. To put the point briefly: behind sterling academic and intellectual credentials, he mounts a leftish, but non-Marxist, expose' of Washington's most cherished foreign policy pieties. Just as effectively, he is careful not to put forth a central thesis, theory or organizing idea, that might distract from the damning indictment his case studies provide of global interventionism.
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37 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Solloway on February 18, 2000
Format: Perfect Paperback
"The Chomsky Reader" kicks off with an excellently composed essay by the books editor, Peck. Excellent as this initial taste is, it gives but a slight indication of what is to come. For this collection of essays by Chomsky gives a unique insight into the viewpoints and observations of one of this century's greatest political thinkers. Is this book 'enjoyable' fellow students have asked me? Perhaps this, in fact, is not the right question. After all, how enjoyable can it be reading essays (backed up by exhaustive evidence) dealing with topics such as tens of thousands of innocents slaughtered in not so far off lands while our 'free press' turns the other way, unwilling to impart meaningful information to their audience? But this book is more than a Chomskyian socio-political critique; avid readers (even with no prior germane knowledge) should enjoy the essays examing language and human nature, (don't forget Chomsky is a Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy). One word of warning, this book can not be leafed through or merely perused; it must be read. Intellectuals, states Chomsky, have a responsibility to tell the truth. Think about that.
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42 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 1, 1999
Format: Perfect Paperback
Yes, this is a politically biased book. Yes, he can sound a little paranoid. BUT this book is an excellent, eye-opening read nonetheless.
This series of essays is arranged topically, so that there is a certain evolution of events and thoughts that emerges through the book. It covers his thoughts on the situation in East Timor in the 70's (note what is going on there now!), US foreign policy towards South & Latin American countries, and Vietnam. This variety kept me interested the whole way through the text.
As Chomsky is a very *detail oriented* person, the text can get a little bit weighty. I think I might have glossed over a few pages here and there because they were just too dry for me.
But the payoff is worth it. Though it felt like running a marathon, I came out of reading this with a lot of questions and new ideas. Like the works of Howard Zinn, I would recommend it for people of all political persuasions because it does bring up so many issues for debate.
I have used selections from this book to teach internship classes on student activism, and have also found myself refering back to it for political ammunition here and there.
In summary -- good but dry; biased but thought provoking.
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