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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Won't Believe It, But Read It Anyway, March 13, 2012
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This review is from: Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline (Hardcover)
This is a book whose premise contains the prediction that readers won't believe it anyway, and the author is right. What Berman nails perfectly is that Americans are incapable of accepting criticism, and in fact, live in a profoundly deep illusion regarding the quality of their state. It is also a well appreciated breath of intellectual honestly that the author forgoes the obligatory ending in which plaintiffs usually list the 10 things we need to do to change, or 5 things that have to happen to prevent disaster, or 6 things the president must do tomorrow. He fastidiously documents the 400 year course we have been on and gives in straight away to the notion that trying to change would be like turning a battleship in a bathtub. This isn't a guide for change, it is a statement for recognition and preparation for the end phase of this empire.

Berman's style is razor sharp and pinpoint direct. It is not an exercise in windbaggery, or thank the gods, self puffery. The writing is simple, clear and dynamic. It is well supported, researched and documented in a journalistic style. The New World was founded on exploitation, weaned on it, nourished by it, and has since made it into our state religion. As Berman refers to it, we are a nation of hustlers and little else to show for our experiment. We have made the utterly wrong assumption that the meaning of life is to be found serving a machine as an economic cog, and we have built the economy, social relations, and national values on that shallow premise.

Berman's analysis is skillfully free of the trap of relying on too many -isms, or economic theory. What plays out powerfully is the story of our values, and our social relations to the extent that as he points out, "every conversation we have is about not much more than business."

Superficial Cable TV Patriots and true believers (people who still think elections matter) won't accept this critique. In fact, just the title alone will put them off. For anyone else who is willing to inquire into the nature of our society, this is an exciting validation of all you thought, but maybe were afraid to say yourself for fear of being called un-American. Don't be afraid - read this book.
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