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The Left at War (Cultural Front) Hardcover – November 16, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Cultural Front
  • Hardcover: 349 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (November 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814799841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814799840
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,414,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fresh off the 2008 election and anticipating an ascendancy of leftist thought and political success, Bérubé (Rhetorical Occasions), cultural studies and literature professor at Pennsylvania State University, provides robust intellectual arguments for how to reshape leftist thought into a powerful, constructive and measurably successful political philosophy—and how to mitigate the damage caused by the Manichean left: notably Chomsky and other members of the hard left whom he disparagingly describes as ready to sympathize with any 'anti-imperialist' who comes along to challenge the Western powers, from Milosevic to Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He provides an assessment of Chomsky's appeal and a balanced critique of Chomsky's failings, juxtaposing him with Stuart Hall, who brings what Bérubé believes is the necessary nuance to leftist thinking. Bérubé forthrightly identifies himself as a social democratic leftist, and his effort not only identifies left-wing excesses and elevates its more viable and strategically sound currents, but puts critical thinking back into vogue on both sides of the political spectrum. (Nov.)
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“If Berube succeeds in making leftists, from center-left politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank all the way out to the most radical anarchists, ponder the question of violence seriously, he will have done an inestimable service. That he attempts to do just that makes the most important book I have read in the past five years.” -John McGowan in Symploke,

“Indefatigably clear-minded and relentlessly researched, Bérubé’s The Left at War offers an invaluable excavation of just what has gone wrong, and occasionally right, with the academic/intellectual left in America. Anyone concerned with its future will be relying on this work for many years to come.”

-Eric Alterman,author of Why We’re Liberals

“A rigorous, hard-hitting, and impressively detailed critique and account of the United States left during wartime—and at war with itself. It is far and away the most thoroughly reasoned and researched brief for a middle way between a predictably anti-imperialist left and a revoltingly hawkish liberalism, and in this it is immensely useful both as a guide to recent debates and as a sort of internationalist handbook. Rousing, engrossing, principled, and brave.”
-Eric Lott,author of The Disappearing Liberal Intellectual

“[E]ngaging and provocative. [Aims] to stimulate the Left through an injection of new ideas. To the extent that these ideas challenge what some see as core Leftist convictions, some on the Left - those who are content to stay the course and await the coming revolution - will not welcome them. But those who see the Left at a critical crossroads, who believe that its recent political failures have amplified the need for the Left to reinvent and revitalize itself, will certainly find these ideas worth consideration... [Berube has] done valuable work in clearing the way for a more intellectually innovative and politically effective Left.”-Marx & Philosophy,

“The most important book I have read in the past fiver years.”

-John McGowan,

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Good on June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting, if not very enlightening walk through the internecine battles among the left. Berube contradicts himself repeatedly throughout the book, and he seems to believe that political thinkers and their followers are necessarily discrete; that one cannot embrace Chomsky and Herman's propaganda model while also believing the average Joe can think critically. He relies too much on one thinker, Stuart Hall, just as others often do with Chomsky or Zinn. Reading this in May 2010, as the corporatist agenda of the Obama administration has become depressingly clear, all this discussion of how the left can be more effective felt rather moot. Nevertheless, an important message does get through the muddle: A big long-term goal for the left should be to build international institutions to protect human beings from oppression.
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