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The Essential Chomsky (New Press Essential)

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1595581891
ISBN-10: 1595581898
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I would like to invite you, very respectfully, to those who have not read this book, to read it."
—Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival

"Noam Chomsky is one of the most significant challengers of unjust power and delusions; he goes against every assumption about American altruism and humanitarianism."
—Edward Said

"A rebel without a pause."
—Bono

"Chomsky ranks with Marx, Shakespeare, and the Bible as one of the ten most quoted sources in the humanities—and is the only writer among them still alive."
The Guardian

About the Author

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT and the author of numerous books including Chomsky vs. Foucault: A Debate on Human Nature, On Language, Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship, and Towards a New Cold War (all published by The New Press). He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Press Essential
  • Paperback: 515 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595581898
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595581891
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Bell on March 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book provides a good overview of Chomsky's work. It covers both his political and linguistics work and captures his highly intellectual insights into many areas. It is, in my opinion, a good introduction to the great man and ideal for someone looking to get acquainted with his work. I would also argue that if you were to buy just one Chomsky book this one should be it as it covers the whole scope of his work. However if you are interested only in Chomsky's political work then I suppose the best introduction to that is `Understanding Power'. The two books compliment each other well though.

To give you a better idea of what the book covers I have listed the contents.
Contents are as follows:

1. A Review of B.F. Skinner's `Verbal Behaviour'
2. Preface to `Aspects of the Theory of Syntax
3. Methodological Preliminaries
4. The Responsibility of Intellectuals
5. On Resistance
6. Language and Freedom
7. Notes On Anarchism
8. The Rule of Force in International Affairs
9. Watergate: A Skeptical View
10. The Remaking Of History
11. Foreign Policy and the Intelligentsia
12. The United States and East Timor
13. The Origins of the "Special Relationship"
14. Planning for Global Hegemony
15. The View Beyond: Prospects for the Study of Mind
16. Containing the Enemy
17. Introduction to `The Minimalist Program'
18. New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind
19. Intentional Ignorance and Its Uses
20. A World Without War
21. Reflections on 9-11
22. Language and the Brain
23. United States - Israel - Palestine
24. Imperial Grand Strategy
25. Afterword to Failed States

I would also personally recommend in addition to this book (in order of most highly recommended): 'Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky', 'Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance','Failed States' and 'Manufacturing Consent'.
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Like the scare crow in the Wizard of Oz I wish I had a brain. At least a better one and certainly one like Chomsky's would delight me. So I have admired this man for years trying to keep up with with his exhaustive commentaries of what is really happening in politics around us. As a result of this long time appreciation of Chomsky's mind along with the realization he volunteers as an interpreter for the majority of us who just can't figure out all the complex ins and outs of political strategies in America, I treated myself to his new book The Essentials of Chomsky. In my opinion it is packed with wonderful chapters that share his insight with us.

I also love that he is an expert in linguistics and has several of his articles from this field that accompany his many articles based on political analysis. There are three chapters that have captured my interest in particular: The Responsibility of Intellectuals, Language and Freedom, and The Remaking of History. Just from these alone I feel I got my value in purchasing this book.

I find that when I really set my mind to his writings they aren't so hard to comprehend as I imagine and usually I feel rewarded from the ideas and facts I come away with from my read.

I envy anyone who can absorb the 25 chapters from this entire book. But for me I'll be relatively happy reading slowly those chapters that most capture my interest.
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Spanning several decades, this collection of articles is a fair representation of the opinions of someone who is responsible for instigating a lot of research into language theory as well as provoking many into political debate and action. A writer, researcher, political activist, or teacher does not have to always be right in order for them to be judged as effective, and Noam Chomsky is right about issues just as often as he is wrong. He is best when he is encouraging his readers to be skeptical, and given the history of governments one can only approach their analysis from the standpoint of extreme skepticism. No utterance, document (official or unofficial) or decree coming from any government in the world should be believed without in-depth analysis and painstaking research. Time constraints often put a damper on the level of analysis that is required; with the immediate consequence that one must withhold judgment on sometimes very important matters. This makes authors such as Chomsky valuable, in that they summarize events and histories that enable those interested to make better use of their time.

Chomsky can be very loose with facts, as can been seen by perusing some of the articles in this book. For example, when discussing the (illegal and immoral) invasion of East Timor by Indonesia, he states that the United States supplied 90 percent of arms used, but he does not give a reference for this assertion. And in the same article, he refers to an "outstanding Australian specialist" on East Timor describing Fretlin, the political party at the time of the invasion, as "populist Catholic". Chomsky often quotes individuals that he deems as expert in a subject, but he never gives objective criteria for what constitutes an expert.
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When you read Chomsky you discover the world as it is. He takes aways bias views and show us what happened, why it happened and why we should care. His critics always try to undermine his persona, but always fail at undermining his arguments. Anyone interested in truths and logic should enjoy his books.
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