314 of 332 people found the following review helpful
Chris Hedges defies easy categories: he's part journalist, part poet, part zen master -- always with his finger pointing toward the (often very painful) truth. I consider him to be among the very best living writers.
Hedges' work is a downer. Sometimes I read his columns and his books, and I am filled with paralyzing fright and sadness. He knows how bad the world is; he can articulate the horrors of war, greed, capitalism, corporate power, etc. ad nauseum in a way that is visceral and devastating. I know of no other writer who speaks the truth in such a dense, but accessible and compassionate way.
I am grateful to Chris Hedges. His books and columns have transformed me -- changed both my personal habits and outlook. The World As It Is is filled with wisdom, sanity and unsettling truth -- a truth we are wise to not only embrace but act upon before the world descends into a place from which there is no escape.
My description might sound bleak (ahhhh, but: the world is bleak, if we choose to see 'the world as it is'), but Chris Hedges doesn't blather on about hopelessness and despair; he states the truth as if we might choose a different way of life -- one that respects our fellow citizens and the planet we live on. Hedges knows the world we live in is filled with enormous pain and suffering, and also that there's another way. His sobering work has the power to nudge us in the right direction.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
135 of 142 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2011
While working as a civilian contractor in Iraq I read Chris' book "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning". It affected me deeply and confirmed my exact feelings about what I was seeing over there. This new book is another excellent one. Why can't a deep thinker like this be in charge of our foreign policy instead of egotistical politicians who constantly play games? When people started hypnotically and robotically chanting "U...S...A.....U...S...A" the other night, it reaffirmed that we are in a period of psychotic patriotic hype that Mr. Hedges has written so presciently about.
131 of 139 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2011
Chris Hedges is one of the most creative American writers today. I have read his columns regularly on the Truthdig web site. Why is this book important? It is important because it represents a truly prophetic vision of where we are headed. He points out many of the truly malevolent aspects of today's modern plutocratic world system and the need to confront them. I am less pessimistic than he is about the prospects for reform in the Democratic Party in the U.S.. As a reporter for the New York Times in the Middle East and Bosnia, he saw the fury of religious war first hand. He has a unique insight into the world that is likely to come as things collapse. The power of the misuse of religion will be a major factor. He wrote a very interesting book on the religious right called American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. He also wrote a good book on the failure of the liberal establishment in America Death of the Liberal Class... You may not agree with everything he says. I don't. However, he is a unique and creative voice of integrity. You can get a good idea of what's here by clicking on some parts of the book you can read on Amazon. Check this out.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2011
This book, The Word As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress, is highly readable. For those who are not afraid to face the stark political and
social dilemmas that confront the human community, this book is a must. It challenges the reader to ask: "What can I do in my local situation that might make a difference in our world?" The writer is radical in his perceptions and candid in his analysis. Nevertheless, the book leaves the reader with hope. I
recommend this book.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2011
This book is a collection of Hedges insightful commentaries on current affairs. He comes from a unique perspective of one with a solid education in religious studies and the humanities topped off by real world experience in foreign wars and the not-so-obvious war zones in US politics and society. This allows Hedges to speak with an authentic prophetic voice that makes the reader sit up and pay attention. It's a book to share but not give away as you'll want to keep it on your shelves in a prominant place to read again and again.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2011
For people who are fans of Hedges and/or tired of the two-party duopoly, this book needs no introduction, just reading.
For those of you curious about Hedges, but unfamiliar with the degree to which both parties allow big biz to rape America, U.S. inflammations of problems around the world with its imperialism, etc. ... this book needs a read.
That said, Hedges more than once makes reference to his religious beliefs, while at the same time indicating that the content of those beliefs is probably pretty tenuous. And, given that, under provocation of some Gnu Atheists, he pretty much ripped *all* atheists in a book before this, Chris should have included, in such an intro, comments on what his religious beliefs are, how they've evolved, what role he sees religion has if there's not an omnipotent deity (he doesn't believe in one himself), etc.
Also in said extended intro, to alleviate the depression factor, it would have been good to h ear suggestions for what we can do (other than something like voting Green) to fight back.
Teh columns are good ... but ... this could have been more!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2014
At the beginning of "The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress," Chris Hedges suggests that he is no longer really a journalist — now, he’s more of a minister, trying to lead his flock down the paths of righteousness. It’s in this spirit that Hedges, a Harvard divinity grad before he gave up organized religion, titles one of his essays “War Is Sin.”
Hedges’s tone is a mixture of anguish and anger, and his acerbic prose takes no prisoners. His style may be unattractive, even unsettling, but I can find no fault with his main arguments. His is a voice of truth in a wilderness of spin, and I wish that it weren’t so.
Here’s his assessment of Barack Obama, the candidate of change who became the president of the status quo:
"The American empire has not altered under Barack Obama. It kills as brutally and indiscriminately ... It steals from the U.S. Treasury to enrich the corporate elite as rapaciously. It will not give us universal health care, abolish the Bush secrecy laws, end torture or “extraordinary rendition,” restore habeas corpus, or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of citizens. It will not push through significant environmental reform, regulate Wall Street, or end our relationship with private contractors that provide mercenary armies to fight our imperial wars and produce useless and costly weapons systems."
It’s hard to disagree with this appraisal, and Obama is just one of the targets in Hedges’s sights. Obama doesn’t get anything close to the most space in the book — that “honour” is reserved for the government of Israel and its oppression of the Arab peoples of Palestine.
Hedges calls himself a socialist, a term that has quickly become almost quaint, tinged with a flavour of musty and archaic rationalism. He writes that “we must articulate and stand behind a viable and uncompromising socialism, one that is firmly and unequivocally on the side of working men and women.”
Hedges is a journalist, and it’s in this context that he blasts the mainstream media for retreating from their moral responsibility to tell the truth into their present stance as “recorders” of scripted and spun events. Hedges expresses his disdain for the bankrupt “objectivity” ethic of the press with a vehemence that is typical of his prose: “The tragedy is that the moral void of the news business contributed as much to its own annihilation as the protofascists who feed on its carcass.”
"The corporate forces that destroyed the country wil use the information systems they control to mask their culpability. The old game of blaming the weak and the marginal, a staple of despotic regimes, will empower the dark undercurrents of sadism and violence in American society and deflect attention from the corporate vampires who have drained the blood of the country."
In an echo of his previous book "The Death of the Liberal Class," Hedges describes liberals, and specifically the Democratic Party which is their political home, as a spent force that “prefers comfort to confrontation. ”
Hedges writes: “It will not challenge the decaying structures of the corporate state. It is intolerant within its ranks of those who do. It clings pathetically to the carcass of the Obama presidency. It has been exposed as a dead force in American politics.”
What, if anything, can be done? Hedges is not hopeful, but he is clear about the nature of the solution:
"If the hegemony of the corporate state is not soon broken, we will descend into a technologically enhanced age of barbarism."
Hedges cites Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, in Hedges’s version of the typical postcolonialist indictment of the Enlightenment. This is a most appropriate citation, for in The World As It Is, it is very clear that Chris Hedges, for one, has seen “the horror.”
The horror for Hedges is the reality of war. That he has been changed, and forever scarred, by his years as a war correspondent is clear in his scorn for the official memorials to the honoured dead:
"War memorials and museums are temples to the god of war. The hushed voices, the well-tended grass, the flapping of the flags allow us to ignore how and why our young died. They hide the futility and waste of war. "
Hedges’s compulsion to cut through the glorification and the censorship and instead to write the truth keeps him writing.
He may have little hope for himself, as the rage and bitterness with which he writes make clear, yet, as he says in the dedication, he must seek the solutions to our problems, for it is his three children “whose joy and laughter save me from despair and for whom I must always hope.”
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2012
If you ever thought that the USA was actively covering up a long-standing series of atrocious acts all in the name of 'patriotism', you were right. If you ever feared that the lessons you learned in school were tainted with a high degree of propaganda, you were also correct. And, lastly, if you suspect that the country in which you live is now on an abrupt downhill slide, these suspicions are also true.
Chris Hedges, through a compilation of articles and essays taken from his truthdig website relates to us a text that is both compelling in its depth and frightening in its scope. The United States of America is not, nor has been, the country in which we have placed our trust and compassion. Instead, it is a country that fully embraces the concept of imperialism and hegemony, and one that places power, and its companion corruption, above reasonable humanistic standards. Its sister state, namely Israel, is equally as deceiving and militaristic with its actions and attitudes towards its Islamic neighbors. No amount of banner waving, allegiance pledging nor Independence Day celebrations can remove, or even lessen, the negative impact that both countries have had on the present day world. The sole purpose of both countries over the past thirty years has been one of world domination and control. But, just as the credit card bill eventually comes in the mail, the monetary payment for such long standing actions is well past due. And we, quite frankly, cannot afford to make the minimum payment. We have, long ago, 'robbed Peter to pay Paul' and/or simply stolen from our domestic funding until we are now both penniless and desolate.
Wake up America, the corporatists during the Reagan era bought out the the ruling majority of the politicians! These same politicians, over the ensuing decades, have taken our armed services into countries for no other purpose than to abscond and pillage other nation's resources. We had been fed a series of lies and partial truths, whether it was Iraqi WMDs, women's rights in Afghanistan or the pursuit of terrorists in Pakistan, the goal was always the same; establish dominance in the area in question, pilfer their resources and allow the corporations to extract massive profits all under the guises of 'national interests'. This is not how the long-standing saga of the United States should end, but it will end this was in spite of its original intentions of becoming a 'beacon on a hill'.
Like a fine wine this book is meant to be ingested in small sips and not huge gulps. Savor each concept and idea for a while before moving on to the next essay. Enjoy!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2011
I picked up a book by Chris Hedges in the library
over a year ago just by chance have been hooked
on his writings ever since...
His insights about our world are spot on and
knowledge is impressive....
I don't write a lot of reviews but I would suggest
reading everything you can get your hands on by Chris Hedges.
Check out his blog at TruthDig also
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
I have read some of his works and generally agree to the accuraccy of his statements. He has a very perceptive view on human action and reactions.
I wish he would have spent some time on the environmental issues and stewardship of the earth and oceans. But thats for another book.