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The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy Paperback – March 1, 2004

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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".
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: South End Press; First Edition edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896087107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896087101
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,197,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Joe Sherry on October 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Originally titled "The Globalization of Dissent", "The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile" is a series of four interviews with author Arundhati Roy. The interviews, guided conversations, really, are conducted by radio producer David Barsaman. Roy is perhaps best known as the author of the Booker Prize winning novel "The God of Small Things", but she has also written three collections of essays dealing with such various subjects as the corruption of the Indian government, American Imperialism, and nuclear arms proliferation. This book touches on many of these same themes, but also deals with Roy's personal life in a level her essays have not.

The first interview "Knowledge and Power" was conducted in February 2001. As the title suggests, the focus of this interview is on knowledge and power and what both mean to Arundhati Roy. Roy discusses, as she does in her essays, the abuse of power by the Indian government and the arrogance of controlling knowledge. Roy mentions how knowledge can (and has) caused arrogance and corruption in the intellectual elites. Specific instances mentioned include the government letting Enron control and own so much of India's power structure, and the irresponsible destruction caused by the Big Dam projects. This interview paints, in broad strokes, a picture of the overall worldview of Arundhati Roy. This is fantastic stuff. In Roy we discover an intelligent, accomplished, passionate woman who has taken the very human responsibility of trying to make a difference in the world.

The second interview, taken in September 2002, is a much shorter essay. Titled "Terror and the Maddened King", the essay begins with David Barsaman questioning Roy about the charges brought against her because of the novel "The God of Small Things".
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Format: Paperback
Here is everything you've come to know and love of Arundhati Roy - and David Barsamian. Roy's political observations are of an exceptionally acute and pithy intelligence. Her wisdom has a way of turning a phrase completely unique to Roy, yet without losing the common touch. It lashes out in fury at injustice everywhere, yet with compassion as vital and common as sodden sand squishing through barefoot toes on a riverbank.

Despite her success, Roy is quite content to live away from celebrity, in India, which she says maintains a measure of the wildness that has long been put under the bulldozer of Western "progress":

"In India we are fighting to retain a wilderness that we have. Whereas in the West, it's gone. Every person that's walking down the street is a walking bar code. You can tell where their clothes are from, how much they cost, which designer made which shoe, which shop you bought each item from. Everything is civilized and tagged and valued and numbered and put in its place. Whereas in India, the wilderness still exists - the unindocrinated wilderness of the mind, full of untold secrets and wild imaginings. It's threatened, but we're fighting to retain it. We don't have to reconjure it. It's there. It's with us. It's not got signposts all the way. There is that space that hasn't been completely mapped and taken over and tagged and trademarked. I think that's important. And it's important that in India, we understand that it's there and we value it.

Roy expresses a remarkably matter-of-fact courage and an unbiased reason in the face of the rabid nationalism and religious fundamentalism and fanaticism that engenders, among other dark clouds, the nuclear brinkmanship between India and Pakistan.
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Format: Paperback
This book is wonderful for those who are already familiar with Roy's work, providing an opportunity for her to reflect on prior work and speak her mind openly. Along with discussion of contemporary issues, such as 9-11, US imperial hegemony, and the Narmada Dam project in India, The Checkbook and the Cruise Missle fleshes out the context of Roy's upbringing in Kerala, India, as well as the deeper motivations behind The God of Small Things, Power Politics and War Talk. David Barsamian, veteran underground media guru, asks fresh, penetrating questions that will keep you interested throughout. A wonderful addition to Roy literature.
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Format: Paperback
David Barsamian asks good questions (he's had years of practice) but it's Arundhati Roy's answers that make this book so rewarding. She combines an impressive knowledge of facts with real commitment and passion.

She doesn't let the interview format get the best of her, turning her responses into lectures. Instead, she is a smart-alec sometimes and just plain smart at other times. Her dedication to making the world a better place is personal, with roots in her childhood in India. As she describes US imperialism, corporate power, and corruption in the Indian government, she ties it all to her own political development. This is an important book, easy to read but very informative and inspiring.
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