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Turning Back the Clock: Hot Wars and Media Populism Paperback – September 22, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (September 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156034212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156034210
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,127,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Internationally renowned novelist and philosopher Eco (Foucault's Pendulum; The Name of the Rose) delivers a provocative and enlightening ride in this collection of essays first published in two leading Italian newspapers. He delves deeply into such subjects as Mideastern and European politics, myth, prejudice, globalization, The Da Vinci Code, magical thinking, rhetoric, religion, intelligent design and Harry Potter. The friction between his imagination, interpretation and reflection makes for pyrotechnic prose, springing from abundant facts and carefully constructed theories. He dissects war as a bloody game where we did everything possible to ensure that our adversaries did not achieve their goals, proclaiming that neowars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be won by the military. While the flow of his reasoning can be serpentine, Eco challenges us to reconsider the power of the media, the right of privacy, the sometimes disturbing manners of foreigners, the poison of anti-Semitism and September 11. The resulting book details fresh approaches to wrestling with some of the most complex issues of our time.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

PRAISE FOR TURNING BACK THE CLOCK
 
"A collection of charming, bite-size missives . . . Turning Back the Clock is among the season’s sprightlier works of nonfiction."—The New York Observer
 
PRAISE FOR UMBERTO ECO
 
"One of the most influential thinkers of our time."--Los Angeles Times
 
"Eco combines scholarship with a love of paradox and a quirky, sometimes outrageous, sense of humor."--The Atlantic Monthly

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Caesar Warrington on January 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Nowadays, when most authors writing on social and politcal events or trends are motivated primarily by their partisan agendas, it is a refreshing and enlightening experience to read from someone like Umberto Eco. The acclaimed author of FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM and THE NAME Of The ROSE, who also happens to be the world's only famous medievalist and semiotician, is an endangered species: an original thinker, whose ideas and opinions derive not from organizational or ideological loyalties, but rather originate out of independent observation and evaluation. I may disagree with Eco on more than a few things inside this book (as, for example, his uncharacterically unfair treatment of both Mel Gibson and the PASSION Of The CHRIST in the essay "Hands Off My Son!"), but at least these thoughts are his own.

TURNING BACK The CLOCK: HOT WARS And MEDIA POPULISM is a collection of essays based on a number of Umberto Eco's articles and lectures between 2000-2005. The majority of these pieces originally appeared in the Italian newspapers L'espresso and La Repubblica, they are short, informal, even humorous. They are also, however, very serious in their intent, and are models as to what opinion pieces in journalism should be.

Eco's writing here takes on everything from what he terms paleowar vs. neowar (in the essay "Some Reflections on War and Peace), media monopolism and movies to HARRY POTTER and THE DA VINCI CODE (from "Those Who Don't Believe in God Believe in Everything), from Nigerian beauty pageants (in "Beauty Queens, Fundamentalists and Lepers") to political correctness and multiculturalism to Islamist terrorism and Islamophobia as well.

Within this book's 41 collected essays, instead of bullying or haranguing his readers, Eco offers the commonsense and moderation that was once the hallmark of classic humanism and liberalism: That we need not to abandon all values and all standards in order to achieve a tolerant and pluralistic society.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Krul on March 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Turning Back the Clock" is the title of an admirable and entertaining collection of essays, articles, speeches, etc. by famed Italian writer Umberto Eco. Most of these are articles written as a columnist for La Repubblica, and the collection is organized by content, not chronology. Fortunately, it is not necessary to have read any of Eco's novels to enjoy this book.

Eco is of course a gifted writer, and not just in the realm of fiction. While it is perhaps necessary, in particular for the political essays, to have a fairly substantial knowledge of Italian politics and history, one can on the other hand also learn a lot about Italy from Eco's essays. And this is not limited to Italian topics: Eco discusses everything one would expect from him, politics, science, technology, history, philosophy, literature, and art. Consistently reasonable, balanced, and witty, Eco may not be the most provoking and startling of essaysists, but he is sure to be informative and challenging.

In my opinion, the most interesting articles are those where Eco does not directly address current events, but rather talks more generally about the situation of modern European culture(s), about historical and philosophical subjects, and the use of language. The high point here are perhaps the final articles, one of which is a speech given to the Milanesiana in 2001 where he discusses the phrase "dwarves on the shoulders of giants", as well as one on how to accept one's mortality. I can definitely recommend this book to intellectuals.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Loves the View VINE VOICE on June 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of columns and a few speeches by a noted scholar and novelist of the medieval period. As in all collections, some pieces are better than others, but in this volume, all are good.

Of particular note is the opening piece with thoughts on paleo and neo wars. These terms were new and provocative for me.

Another highlight is the section on the media. Italy's experience in media concentration, having a media entrepreneur to take the reins of government and conflate his interest with that of the country, stands as warning. (For more on this I recommend The Sack of Rome: How a Beautiful European Country with a Fabled History and a Storied Culture Was Taken Over by a Man Named Silvio Berlusconi.) Eco describes Berlusconi's campaign to weaken the judiciary to serve his own interests. Italy, if it is ever going to control situations such as those described in Gomorrah needs a strong legal system.

Eco explains how in Italy, vibrant print journalism means nothing since everyone is watching a Berlusconi owned channel. Using TV, Berlusconi can state a popular policy, (media populism) but since it is not official, need never implement it or take it to Parliament. It can easily be denied. Sometimes it can be a decoy to get a debate on something so that something else can take place without attention. Foreign affairs can be run this way too.

Other ruminations that impressed me included thoughts on the Miss World pageant in Nigeria, Dr.
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More About the Author

Umberto Eco (born 5 January 1932) is an Italian novelist, medievalist, semiotician, philosopher, and literary critic.

He is the author of several bestselling novels, The Name of The Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of The Day Before, and Baudolino. His collections of essays include Five Moral Pieces, Kant and the Platypus, Serendipities, Travels In Hyperreality, and How To Travel With a Salmon and Other Essays.

He has also written academic texts and children's books.


Photography (c) Università Reggio Calabria

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