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The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work (Counterblasts) Paperback – November 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Counterblasts
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844677494
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844677498
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,281,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Filleting the silliest man on the planet needs a sure scalpel, and Belén Fernández wields hers with deadly finesse.”—Alexander Cockburn, editor of CounterPunch

“A long overdue takedown of a dangerous fraud. Fernández deserves great credit for having the stomach to digest all of Friedman’s oeuvre and for her witty, fact-based and ruthless deconstruction of all his contradictions, incoherence, jingoism and inane aphorisms. You read it and you are amazed how a clown could rise to such dominance in American culture and how such drivel could pass for insight, and what that implies about us. The book is a vaccination that should be given to all college freshmen lest they too get infected, an antidote for those suffering from admiration of Friedman and a palliative remedy for those of us who have had aneurysms in reaction to his every latest bloviation.”—Nir Rosen, author of Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World

“Via razor sharp analysis and meticulous research, Fernández reveals the consistently disastrous effects of the neoliberal policies Friedman cheerleads. The hubris, fallacy, consistent hypocrisy, and buffoonery of the New York Times‘ most widely read columnist is systematically deconstructed and laid bare. A must read.”—Dahr Jamail, journalist and author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq

“Belén Fernández is a revelation to those who don’t know her yet and a confirmation for those happy few who have known her sublime sense of political satire—subdued, innocent, piercing, frightful. She is a political satirist of the generation X vintage—low-key, self-effacing, happenstance, ‘what-ever’-type who crawls under your skin and begins to tickle and before you know it bite. She insinuates so effortlessly, you think she is just chilling—she is not. Her book on Thomas Friedman is an act of restitution, a declaration of independence from a young, idealist, brave, and defiant generation of Americans who have had it up to here with barefaced banality that has been fed to them for too long. She is talking back—boldly, patiently, chapter and verse, going in for the kill.”—Hamid Dabashi, author of Iran, the Green Movement and the USA: The Fox and the Paradox

“Thomas Friedman is a representative for the peculiar, yet self-serving nature of American political, business and media elites. His patronizing, over-simplified (often self-deceiving) style came to define him, as a person, but also an entire era of patronizing, hegemonic and often bloody American foreign policy in the Middle East and the rest of the world. The Imperial Messenger is a superb dissection of the character of Friedman, and all the representations he snootily imitates. Belén Fernández’s style is witty and unique, and her book is the antithesis of Friedman’s various attempts at logic.”—Ramzi Baroud, author of My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story

“Fernández skewers empire’s messenger Tom Friedman. . . .Few books on current affairs merit being called page-turners; because of Fernández’s witty and punchy style, this one does.”—David Cronin, The Electronic Intifada

“[A] meticulously researched book, written with wry wit and an unrelenting critical eye, that should be read by both Friedman’s fans and critics alike; not just for what it reveals about his journalism or the New York Times, but for what it says about the state of American journalism as a whole. In short, if New York’s ‘paper of record’ wanted to start rectifying its own journalistic deficiencies, it would do well to start by replacing Friedman with Fernández.”—Cyril Mychalejko, Toward Freedom

“There is no wittier or sharper account of Thomas Friedman’s intellectual and moral atrocities than Belen Fernández’s The Imperial Messenger.”—Pankaj Mishra, Outlook India

“[C]arefully argued, relentlessly well-written polemic ... there is something compellingly honest about Fernández’s attention to the material context within which Friedman’s ideas find succor.”—Max Ajl, Jadaliyya

“[R]aises thought-provoking questions about the objectivity of mainstream media when it comes to US economic and foreign policy interests.”—Sandra Siagian, Asia Times

“[S]hould be the companion volume to any and all reading of Friedman.”—Jim Miles, Counter Currents

“Journalist Belén Fernández’s new opus Imperial Messenger effectively eviscerating the NYT’s Thomas Friedman (whom Alexander Cockburn, not one to pull punches, has called “the silliest man on the planet”) strikes me as an example of the kind of book that a supine establishment,mainstream media herd must exert some effort to avoid paying even minimal attention.”—Robert Birnbaum, Our Man in Boston

“Fernández subjects Friedman to careful scrutiny and assigns him failing grades for logic, consistency, and integrity. After reading Fernández dissect Friedman column by column, the unavoidable question is: How did Friedman ever pass himself off as a journalist? Why isn’t Belén Fernández the New York Times’ lead columnist? The answer is clear. Fernandez won’t lie for the establishment.”—Paul Craig Roberts, Institute for Political Economy

“[A] systematic, detailed take-down of the neo-liberal bias, myopic US-Israeli chauvinism, and general intellectual shallowness that almost scream to be noticed in Friedman’s writing. Throughout, [Fernández] bolsters her arguments with detail so profuse and tightly packed that a brief review such as this can hardly do it justice. Deserves to be read widely and discussed in depth. After doing so, one may be much less prepared to say the same for the work of Thomas Friedman.”—John Robertson, War in Context

“Those searching for a more thorough and academic destruction of Friedman’s career and philosophy would enjoy The Imperial Messenger, an incisive dismantling of the man and his message.”—Gawker

About the Author

Belén Fernández is an editor and feature writer at Pulse Media. Her articles also have appeared on Al-Jazeera, Al-Akhbar English, CounterPunch, Palestine Chronicle, Palestine Think Tank, Rebelión, Tlaxcala, Electronic Intifada, Upside Down World, the London Review of Books blog and, among others. She earned her bachelor’s degree with a concentration in political science from Columbia University in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By John E. Norem on November 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Belén Fernández has written a gem with her _Imperial Messenger_ and it deserves to be read in one sitting. It is a razor sharp and witty look at the writing of Thomas Friedman and Verso did well to include it in their new Counterblasts series of polemical writings.
Fernández undertakes the not enviable task of reading the books of Friedman and then, as if to make up for having had to do this, begins to shred the inconsistencies she encounters and the ideology which informs them. Whether as an apologist for neoliberalism or Israel's apartheid policies, Friedman is shown no mercy. _Imperial Messenger_ is worth reading for this alone, but like all good polemical writing it exposes not only inane thought, but also shows what an astute mind makes of the issues Friedman deals with. In a concluding note Fernández discusses the work of writers who serve as models for what a committed humane journalism can be.
Don't hesitate to read this book!
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Wael on November 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Belén Fernández's review of the the presumably competent NY Times columnist is hard hitting and factual and all together a great read. She is diligent about annotating each fact she presents, each contradiction, and each outright falsehood presented by this man who's been described by some as America's most important columnist.

Facts and analysis aside, Fernández's wit keeps the book entertaining by drawing out Friedman's mixed metaphors, and carrying them to their (il)logical conclusions.

"The Imperial Messenger" has something of Chomsky and Klein in it, an altogether fantastic book that I'm happy to recommend.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on May 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Thomas Friedman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times, where he has worked since 1981. He has been their foreign affairs columnist since 1995, and has written The World is Flat and other best-sellers.

This excellent book by journalist Bélen Fernández dissects Friedman's writings on economic matters, the Arab world and the special relationship between the USA and Israel. She details his writings and compares what he writes one day with what he writes on another. She also compares his opinions with the facts. Using these straightforward methods, she proves him a fraud and a fool.

For example, in an article on Ireland's economy, Friedman claims, "the easier it is to fire people, the more willing companies are to hire people." Fernández points out, "Actually, the easier it is to fire people, the easier it is for Dell to close its manufacturing center in Limerick, lay off 1,900 employees, and transfer major operations to Poland in 2009, invalidating do-it-yourself guides by New York Times columnists on how to `become one of the richest countries in Europe' through globalization."

Friedman stated, "because of all the tax revenue and employment the global companies are generating in Ireland, Dublin has been able to increase spending on health care, schools and infrastructure." In the real world, the government's investment in education was falling and it was piling up huge debt.

He reduces politics and economics to emotions, for example, the Arab, or `Ahmed' as he writes, is always `angry'. Rather than analyse a country he tells a story about someone he met there.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Klaus T on March 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
I can't count the number of Friedman books and columns I've read with the hope that one day I would understand why he is so revered. For me, he is nothing but a smug, illogical, self-aggrandizing apologist for US imperialism and Israeli sociopathy. This book should be read by every thinking person, not just because it exposes that this emperor of punditry is not wearing any clothes, but because it offers some sound logic with which to analyze US and world politics.
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54 of 66 people found the following review helpful By D. Gardner on October 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful analysis of one of the medias great bombastic frauds. Tom Friedman personifies the self-important, self-serving, self-gratifying twaddle that characterizes the NYTimes, a newspaper that exists to serve its own interests and promote Israel at the expense of America.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By S Wood on March 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
Belen Fernandez in "Imperial Messenger" scrutinises the record of star New York Times reporter and pontificator in chief, as well as the writer of a number of bestselling books (see The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat), Thomas Friedman. Of course such a prominent figure as Friedman has been critiqued (and mercilessly skewered) before by the likes of Edward W. Said, Greg Palast, Noam Chomsky and Robert Fisk but this, to the best of my knowledge, is the first time that he has been subjected to a comprehensive book length debunking. It is richly deserved.

That Friedman has as his perch from which to pontificate the editorial pages of the leading U.S. "quality" newspaper can only be regarded as a stunning indictment of the mainstream media of that country. When appointed chief diplomatic correspondent of the Times, having served for years as their lead correspondent in the Middle East, he claimed to know nothing about the modus operanda or institutions of international relations despite the relevance the world at large has to accurate and informed reporting of that region! This is but one specimen of Friedmans ignorance which he more or less regards as a badge of honour.
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