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Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism Hardcover – April 19, 2004

3.1 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

O'Rourke has made a career out of telling people off. As a foreign correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and Rolling Stone, he has demonstrated a flair for sarcasm and an aptitude for making people laugh. In his 11th book, however, this provocateur par excellence presents a more sober and, alas, less funny, take than usual, this time in essays on American foreign policy, including visits to several important countries on the international scene. Starting with Kosovo, he comments on the Serbian-Albanian conflict, then makes his way to Israel, Egypt, Kuwait and Iraq. Other entries look at the effects of September 11 on the U.S. home front, which includes poking fun at airport search techniques and a clever deconstruction of a 2001 statement on peace and social justice signed by 103 Nobelists. O'Rourke's book does many of the things a conservative bestseller is supposed to do: it's irreverent, in-your-face and often offensive (Hillary Clinton: "the furious harridan on the White House third floor"). Yet O'Rourke, the funny man of foreign politics, seems less interested in humor here than in slightly skewed reporting. His articles on Israel and Egypt, for example, are basically descriptive, a diary account of where he went, what he saw, the hotels he stayed in, the food he ate, interrupted every so often by O'Rourke's trademark non sequitur humor. The author's fans probably won't mind the slight shift in direction, though they will wish for more laughs; O'Rourke is one of the most popular conservative authors around and this book, like his others, should find a happy nest on national bestseller lists.
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From Booklist

Another Bush was president and another war was on in Iraq when O'Rourke's first smart-alecky, frat-boy dissection of public policy, Parliament of Whores (1991), was a best-seller. It seems a symptom of our polarized political discourse that, whereas that screed entertained even readers who opposed its libertarian grumpiness, O'Rourke's more recent works are more likely to annoy than amuse anyone left of Milton Friedman. There are few surprises in this volume's commentary on foreign policy: Kosovo, Israel, 9/11, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, a 2001 statement by Nobel laureates, a 2002 Palestinian solidarity march in Washington, D.C., the current war, and in an epilogue, a visit to the island of Iwo Jima. The print media have long included publications tailored for the political Right and Left; Air America gives talk radio a liberal response to the conservative chat shows. Increasingly, political books aim to reinforce the attitudes of readers who already agree with the author rather than to change the minds of others. Peace Kills will circulate best where readers are already committed to the I-hate-liberals humor of O'Rourke and his ideological brethren. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (April 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139191
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,476,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Billy Hollis VINE VOICE on October 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It's easy to find out if you'll like this book. Read the following half paragraph from the end of chapter one:

"But as frightening as terrorism is, it's the weapon of losers. When someone detonates a suicide bomb, that person does not have career prospects. And no matter how horrific the terrorist attack, it's conducted by losers. Winners don't need to hijack airplanes. Winners have an air force."

If you think that's funny and on target, you'll like the book. If you fail to see the humor, or think he's off in the weeds on his opinions, try something else.

I've been reading P.J. since his early National Lampoon days, and I think this is as funny as anything he's done in a long time. It's certainly better than his last two efforts ("Eat the Rich" and "CEO of the Sofa"). It's more comparable to "Give War a Chance". I'm glad to see him regaining his edge.
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Format: Hardcover
You probably either love or hate P.J. O'Rourke. From the ranting Marxist maniac of thirty years ago to the libertarian leaning Republican of today, he has been consistently funny. This book covers 9/11 through the early stages of the war in Iraq.
O'Rourke is something of a gonzo journalist in the Hunter S. Thompson tradition in that the story is his adventures in getting the story. The fault is not as grievous with O'Rourke, however, in that he is both far less pretentious and far funnier. (He mentions the personal effect of 9/11 on him of driving his prior book off the medium well sellers list, for example.) We travel with O'Rourke as he watches the well intentioned fail to bring order out of chaos while delivering free food to the semi-starving, while he dickers up the cost of buying what he thinks is alcoholic beer in dry Iraq, and while he visits Holy Land, or is it the holely land?
There are certain insights here although the book is played primarily for laughs. It is difficult to dislike the people O'Rourke meets in his travels eventhough they dislike ech other to the point of killing. There is no strong political message in this book and O'Rourke does not burden us with any proposed solutions. Rather, he describes the scenes and the people in such a way as to recall to mind Oliver Hardy saying to Stan Laurel, "This is another fine mess you've gotten me into."
I might mention that this is not a book for the ages. Although there will be no problem for the reasonably well informed now, in ten years you won't be able to get the jokes without reference to footnotes.
Less bitter than Ann Coulter, far funnier than Al Franken, this is a book with an eye for the absurd that has chosen to laugh rather than to cry.
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By A Customer on May 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
War is hell - but sometimes peace is worse. P.J. O'Rourke's latest book is one of his best. You could shave with this wit. Humor is always funnier when it comes from a particular point of view. When he travels the world and reports on its trouble spots, O'Rourke strikes the pose of the kid in the back of the class making funny noises, but secretly he's the kid in the front row who has done all his homework. He knows his stuff which makes his it funnier and more insightful. Take this passage on how to tell the difference between piles of rubble in the war in Kosovo: "When the destruction was general, it was Serbian. Serbs surrounded Albanian villages and shelled them. When the destruction was specific, it was Albanian. Albaninas set fire to Serbian homes and businesses. And when the destruction was pointless - involving a bridge to nowhere, an empty oil storage tank, an evacuated Serb police headquarters and the like - it was NATO trying to fight a war without hurting anybody." O'Rourke is a former hippie turned Republican frat boy and his work has appeal across the political spectrum - regardless of how much he can't stand Hillary Clinton. Stuffed shirts, people who refuse to laugh because there's so much suffering in the world, people who don't like a good politically incorrect joke over drinks should stay a hundred miles from this book. Anyone who refuses to take the world seriously should ring up several.
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Format: Hardcover
For the past twenty years or so, P.J. O'Rourke's beat has been the bizarre, the inexplicable, and the stupid. It is no surprise that this particular mix has taken him, more than once, to Washington, D.C. and to the Middle East. It is to these familiar O'Rourkian climes that he returns in PEACE KILLS, asking the major questions of our time. Why do nominally peaceful religions cause so much bloodshed? Can Serbians and Albanians --- or Israelis and Palestinians, or radical com-symp college students and neo-troglodyte book reviewers, for that matter --- live together peacefully? Can you get a Heineken in Kuwait City? How about Budweiser? Whiskey?

O'Rourke is a self-described "trouble tourist," and in a world where trouble means something more serious now than, say, Presidential grand-jury testimony, the arrival of a new book on "America's Fun New Imperialism" is more than welcome. Even more welcome than that, because O'Rourke's previous book dealt with manners domestic --- really, really domestic; a work in which the author's three-year old daughter predominated. One got the opinion that P.J. really needed to get out of the house a bit, which he does here.

Like most books in the O'Rourke canon, PEACE KILLS is largely a collection of magazine articles tied together with some common theme. The most logical common theme would, of course, seem to be the war on terror, but O'Rourke's journey starts well before that --- with prewar trips to Kosovo and Israel. In Kosovo, the author witnesses the post-invasion of the Balkans by international peace organizations, and ponders how American forces can achieve a stable, multicultural society when similar efforts have failed, and failed badly, in places like, well, Detroit.
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