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Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (American Empire Project)
Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (American Empire Project)
by Chalmers A. Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.96
221 used & new from $0.01

35 of 145 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disheartened, January 5, 2005
I came to Blowback by way of a year-long research project on globalization. Over the past year I have read dozens of books, both scholary and popular, on this topic. Right - Left - Love America - Hate America - Multi-Cultural - Eurocentric; I've suffered through them all ( happily, there is as yet no feminist perspective on the subject ).

First let me state that Chalmers Johnson, this regrettable book notwithstanding, is not by profession the village diot. Johnson is a highly respected economic and political analyst, a man who used to be worth listening to.

What happened? How did he come to cobble together this breathtakingly unanalytical smorgasborg? Where did the imperialist conspiracy rant come from? Johnson, where did you go?

Well, the easy answer is that he delves into complex areas of which he has no knowledge. His take on America's military policies is ludicrous. Anyone who questions why the U.S. Army is still in Korea after 50+ years need only point to Seoul on a map and drag his finger a couple of inches north, where he will discover NORTH KOREA. Of coures once an idealogue veers into unknown territory there is no other path left for him than that of conspiracy. Conspiracy "theory" is all fine and good for the lazy and uneducated; it's their sanctuary; but for a scholar of Johnson's caliber to go there is incomprehensible. Unti you see what I saw.

The professional works that I read on globalization were pretty much uniform in that they addressed one or another facet of free-trade and concluded more-or-less-nothing, all in scholarly language. For the most part the popular books were not nominally about globalization at all, although globalization was the only thread holding the books together, and to each other. Brushing aside the fact that most of the authors of the popular group are ageing oddballs from the 60s ( you underestimate the mustard-gas-like effect of that era at your peril ),the only possible reason for these immensely angry, nonsensical books is this: no one fully understands globalization. No one. Even when you define the thing narrowly it is a cantankerous beast, too young to tame; growing unpredictably every day like the Blob. They're frustrated, these authors. I can't blame them, but for some reason they must have a scapegoat and the've rounded up the usual suspect, America, as in why does America impose - dominate - ignore, etc. the third world? Silly question, really. You're at the top of the food chain, what do they expect you to do? When bad things happen you want to be sure they happen to someone else.

Against Love: A Polemic
Against Love: A Polemic
by Laura Kipnis
Edition: Hardcover
92 used & new from $0.01

23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars like it or not, January 5, 2005
I'm not sure if Miss Kipnis is proposing a radical new state of social existence in Against Love or if she is an unusually keen observer of the human condition, or both.

It doesn't matter. Against Love is not only an entertaining read, but westerners (especially women, who actually think about this stuff) will find the book secretly, sinfully provocative, while struggling to come to terms with a philosophy most of them will find threatening: "Hummm sounds like fun. Maybe. But what about the kids? More hummm. And what if my girlfriends decide they want to cheat on their husbands... with MY husband. A girl could drive herself mad with all of the possibilities.

But there's a way to read this book without coming away irredeemably frustrated. First come to grips with the harsh reality that There Is No Answer to this most maddening of human pursuits, and that there never will be. And that just when you've become a little to smart for your own good and decided "Forget monogamy and family values (a repellant phrase if ever there was one); from here on end I'm practicing serial polygammy;" along comes Fate and WHAM there you go again shopping for a sensible car and a neighborhood with Good Schools. Or maybe you're already in one of those Committed Relationships and that same Fate points all of your hormones in the direction of Forbidden Fruit. There are no rules, at least not that survive the end of the day. Miss Kipnis is a sharp gal and she obviously knows this. I can't see why she took a stand for poligamy or adultery, or why anyone would defend monogamy either. But polemic sells. Enjoy the book.

The New Rulers of the World
The New Rulers of the World
by John Pilger
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
139 used & new from $0.01

10 of 71 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars save your money, January 4, 2005
I stumbled onto the "World renowned jouranlist" John Pilger and his peculiar style of partisan rant a few months ago. I was doing some research and there pops up John in the Daily Mirror and The New Statesman. His articles are all on line; free for everyone to contemplate, and that alone should give one pause. Why would he give them away? Atlantic magazine doesn't do that.

Well foks, they're free because that's what they're worth. I ordered New Rulers to see if maybe this zany old man actually had something to say - and is he the "World renowned" journalist he claims (over and over) to be? You know, it's those small touches like sources, footnotes, even anticdotal evidence, that seperate the zealots from the newsmen. For those of you familiar with the notion of journalistic integrity you'll be dissapointed.

Yet he has something, and I couldn't quite put my finger on what that something is. The more I read the more I felt vaguely uneasy. Where have I heard this loon before? What is it about the cadence of his language; the unrelenting disgorgement of unsupported "facts;" his feverish delivery?

I've got it! It's movement-speak. I turn to his biography - and there it is! The poor devil is from the 60s. That explains it all. I'm sorry now that I was ever annoyed with him.

So, if you can't contain yourself, I advise you to do the following: save your money and simply peruse the many many Pilger articles on the web, because once you've read one Pilger howler you've read them all.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 7, 2015 8:04 PM PDT

Why Do People Hate America?
Why Do People Hate America?
by Ziauddin Sardar
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.95
139 used & new from $0.01

21 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sharp business, bad writing, December 31, 2004
By now you've already read page upon page of discussion regarding the authors' arguments in Why Do....? O.K., everybody's got a right. If, like me, you picked this thing up simply to be amused, or (gasp) enlightened. Forget it.

Intentionally or not, the book is a work of commercial writing in that it panders to the American susceptibility to fads of all kinds. This particular fad - American, Hate Thyself!- has re-surfaced at least three times in the last 50 years or so, and never completely goes away.

The writing itself is slow, even pedantic, as if the authors were compelled to give us step-by-step instructions on just how we've damaged the 3rd World (called here "Developing Countries" - with no evidence to support this moniker), and how we should and can make the hurt go away. This approach would be merely boring if the authors had not also, rather strangely I thought, co-mingled the plight of savages everywhere with the affront felt by the French that Americans just won't learn French Damn It. The result is a strange brew suitable for framing; just throw it up against wall, see if pattern emerges. Oh, and all of this is presented to the reader in a faux academic style, although the book's cardinal sin is that it is just not serious.

You want evidence? No problem: McDonald's as an instrument of world domination. Get real folks; it's McDonalds; they make bad burgers that you can buy without getting out of your car and might even keep your kids quiet for five minutes.

This is EVIL?

No, of course it's not. It IS an unmistakable indicator of the desperate lengths to which zealots will go in order to promote goofy ideas - or sell unreadable books - or both.

So spend the dough if you're your looking for the same old tedious "I hate America and I'm going to charge you to tell you how much" diatribe. My recommendation, however, is to take the money, buy the latest Grisham and head out to the pool with your honey. You'll thank me for this.

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