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War Talk [Paperback]

by Arundhati Roy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1, 2003 0896087247 978-0896087248 1

As the United States pushes for war on Iraq, Arundhati Roy, the internationally acclaimed author of The God of Small Things, addresses issues of democracy and dissent, racism and empire, and war and peace in this collection of new essays.

The eloquence, passion, and political insight of Roy’s political essays have added legions of readers to those already familiar with her Booker Prize-winning novel. -Invited to lecture as part of the prestigious Lannan -Foundation series on the first anniversary of the unconscionable attacks of September 11, 2001, Roy challenged those who equate dissent with being "anti-American." Her previous essays on globalization and dissent have led many to see Roy as "India's most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence" (New York Times).

War Talk collects new essays by this prolific writer. Her work highlights the global rise of religious and racial violence. From the horrific pogroms against Muslims in Gujarat, India, to U.S. demands for a war on Iraq, Roy confronts the call to militarism. Desperately working against the backdrop of the nuclear recklessness between her homeland and Pakistan, she calls into question the equation of nation and ethnicity. And throughout her essays, Roy interrogates her own roles as "writer" and "activist."

"If [Roy] continues to upset the globalization applecart like a Tom Paine pamphleteer, she will either be greatly honored or thrown in jail," wrote Pawl Hawken in Wired Magazine. In fact she was jailed in March 2002, when -India's Supreme Court found Roy in contempt of the court after months of attempting to silence her criticism of the government.

Fully annotated versions of all Roy's most recent -essays, including her acclaimed Lannan Foundation -lecture from September 2002, are included in War Talk. Arundhati Roy is the winner of the Lannan Foundation’s Prize for Cultural Freedom, 2002, and will be returning to the U.S. in association with the Lannan Foundation in 2003. Roy’s most recent collection of essays, Power Politics, now in its second edition, sold over 25,000 copies in its first 12 months.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Indian writer Roy's debut novel, The God of Small Things (1997), met with resounding critical acclaim and won the Booker Prize, but this writer of conscience has turned her attention to the real world ever since, turning herself into an electrifying political essayist. In her third volume of nonfiction, she valiantly addresses questions of power and its abuse, and powerlessness and its transformation via dissent and activism into a force for positive change. Roy dissects her country's violent religious conflicts, celebrates and mourns the seemingly lost legacy of Gandhi, and condemns India's gargantuan and environmentally unsound hydroelectric dam projects and the concomitant displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. She also discusses with invaluable clarity the mess in the Middle East, and presents razor-sharp interpretations of the U.S. government's foreign policy and the insidious influence of mega-corporations. So fluent is her prose, so keen her understanding of global politics, and so resonant her objections to nuclear weapons, assaults against the environment, and the endless suffering of the poor that her essay are as uplifting as they are galvanizing. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Arundhati Roy wowed critics with her writing debut, The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1998. She has also published several collections of essays The Cost of Living, Power Politics and most recently War Talk. Ms. Roy is an outspoken critic of India's nuclear weapons testing, controversial environmental issues and the US "war on terrorism".

Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: South End Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896087247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896087248
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives. She has worked as a film designer and screenplay writer in India. Roy is the author of the novel The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize. The novel has been translated into dozens of languages worldwide. She has written several non-fiction books, including The Cost of Living, Power Politics, War Talk, An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire, and Public Power in the Age of Empire. Roy was featured in the BBC television documentary Dam/age, which is about the struggle against big dams in India. A collection of interviews with Arundhati Roy by David Barsamian was published as The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile. She is a contributor to the Verso anthology Kashmir: The Case for Freedom. Her newest books are Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers and Capitalism: A Ghost Story, published by Haymarket Books, and Walking with the Comrades, published by Penguin. Roy is the recipient of the 2002 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Prize.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bottom-up indictment of violent global capitalism April 28, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Arundhati Roy's "War Talk" is written with an unique blend of passion and moral clarity. By sympathizing with the struggles of the lower and middle classes against their increasing exploitation by the powerful, the book serves as a bottom-up indictment of violent global capitalism. Ms. Roy suggests that war is merely the most extreme manifestation of an elitist capitalist system that is sustained by subsuming all available land, labor and resources to its own ends. The result is a scathing and compelling critique of capitalism and politics as practiced in both the U.S. and her native India.
Ms. Roy initially made her mark as a novelist, and her gift for prose is turned to very good use here. In an era when the corporate media routinely treats moral issues in an ambiguous manner, the author's convictions seem to be almost revelatory. For example, when discussing the standoff between India and Pakistan over the contentious issue of Kashmir, she writes, "Why do we tolerate the men who use nuclear weapons to blackmail the entire human race?" Why, indeed?
While Ms. Roy minces no words about the growth of fascism in India, she credits President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair with creating "a congenial international atmosphere" for fascism to take root. This is a world where the U.S. uses its military might to support its multinational corporate empire. Destroying countries that harbor terrorists is only its most obvious and visible form. Ms. Roy believes that it is the mistreatment of the poor by the powerful -- e.g., the lack of respect for human rights; the privatization of public resources; the monopolization of "free" speech by media corporations; and so on -- that ultimately defines the empire and, conversely, the struggle that must ensue to confront and supplant it.
I give this book the highest possible rating and highly recommend it to anyone who might be struggling to understand the increasingly violent world we are inhabiting.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A brave book June 14, 2003
Arundhati Roy has again taken aim at globalization and the injustice she sees inherent in the world today. She provides the type of information that doesn't come close to making the nightly news in America. From war to economic integration, Roy tackles the sacred cows in America with no remorse.
My main complaint about "War Talk" is that the book is a collection of material that has been already been published. Among the six essays, no new writing was done for this work (aside from some editing and minor additions). Most of this material is available in other works or on the Internet, and anyone who has read some of Roy's material online will likely be disappointed to see much of it replicated here. The best piece in the collection is an essay that was written as an introduction to Noam Chomsky's book "For Reasons of State." Because they were not written as a single work, these essays overlap each other quite a bit. They also overlap with some of the essays in Roy's previous book, "Power Politics." If you've read that book, this collection will add little new insight.
However, these criticisms do not diminish the power of Roy's writing. She pulls no punches, and she is scathing in her attacks. Her message is clear: corporate globalization is imperialism, America is an empire, and there is nothing free about free markets, free speech, or free press. She addresses issues ranging from the abuses of the ruling BJP in India against Muslims to the non-accountability of the WTO, IMF and World Bank. The final essay "Confronting Empire" is a call for revolution, and it outlines the prescription for affecting change.
"War Talk" provides a rehash of the commentary that we have come to expect from Arundhati Roy. It also provides a rehash of her passion, and that makes this book worth reading.
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roy is always worth reading May 6, 2003
War Talk is the most recent book of essays by author Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things). In this volume Roy continues to take on India's Big Dam project (a subject in her previous two volumes of essays), as well as violence world wide. She does not spare her native India anything and takes on the War Against Terror and the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy. It is always a pleasure to ready Roy's work. She gives out a viewpoint of a citizen from another country and brings a new voice to the table. She condemns how Americans are presented information and understands that it is difficult to get truly factual from the press (any press). She also praises Noam Chomsky for his work in revealing some of the lies that are fed to Americans by the United States government. I am not informed enough to know anything about the accuracy of her statements regarding U.S. policy, but Roy has a viewpoint that should be considered. I feel that the biggest value in Roy's essays comes in revealing information about Indian politics and Indian life. I know very little about India, and Roy is a valuable source of information and makes me want to learn more about this ancient (yet young) nation.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare to face the truth! May 23, 2003
By A Customer
As Americans being exposed to the recycled garbage churned by local media every day we surely are not accustomed to listening to the bitter reality of politics around us and that too explained so beautifully.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a blast of fresh air April 21, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book.
The essays cover an enormous range of subjects, from politics in India to the rapid rise of the US to Empireship.
Two things are most refreshing: First, Roy's clear-eyed ridicule of US self-importance and self-mythologizing. Second, her unwavering contention that all war is essentially a war of the rich against the poor.
She is biting and humorous and absolutely indignant at the misinformation and disinformation people in the US are fed to justify the US corporate takeover of the world--with the aid and support of almost every government, bought and bribed and stolen.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good book and good author
good book and good author, worth reading if you havent already, just short but human sensitive and very well written
Published 2 months ago by P. K. Woodford
2.0 out of 5 stars This Isn't Pacifism
Normally I never read books like this and by that I mean books from the Moore/Franken-Hannity-Coulter crowd. Read more
Published on August 26, 2007 by Alyosha
3.0 out of 5 stars Arundhati Roy is a great speaker and essayist but she needs to tone...
I first want to start off this review by saying that "I love America." I don't love, or condone the malicious acts that iniquitous individuals in our government have committed in... Read more
Published on June 17, 2007 by BlackJack21
5.0 out of 5 stars Urgent And Powerful
"War Talk" is an urgent message to the world from one of the great activists of our time, India's Arundhati Roy. Read more
Published on April 14, 2007 by Robert Blake
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and disturbing
Whether or not you agree with Ms. Roy, reading her book will provoke you, and thus, to me, it is worth-while. Read more
Published on August 2, 2006 by Poison Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank Commentary
This book exposes the truth about the injustices occuring in India without being clouded by passion. As always Ms. Read more
Published on September 24, 2005 by Adzaid
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bold Voice in a Mind-Melted World
This book is the meat and potatoes - real food for real thought. And amazingly, people who dare speak out what is really the truth behind the visage of government and political... Read more
Published on December 6, 2004 by R. Schwartz
4.0 out of 5 stars Arundhati takes on nthe big guns...
In this collection of essays, Arundhati takes on the big guns and war profiteers of past and present in short... Read more
Published on June 23, 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Brave, venomous like a problem child
Arundhati Roy is like an angry teenager lashing out at her parents. May be right, but immature. So much anger in pointing out the negative points of the new world order, but... Read more
Published on May 19, 2004 by Eldho Thomas
2.0 out of 5 stars Please stick to fiction, Ms Roy.
No doubt that the author is a master of prose and interweaves words poetically like no other. I'm a big fan and I picked up this book seeing her name on the cover. Read more
Published on February 28, 2004 by A. Pathak
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