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Comment: All of the pages and cover of this paperback book are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. This book is in great condition, with only very minor signs of shelf wear. All pages and text are clean. This copy was released in 2007. Overall, this book is in like new condition. Please see photos for a visual inspection of the condition of this book. This purchase is eligible for Amazon's free super saver /Prime shipping and 24/7 customer service. Shipping includes tracking and satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
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In Praise of Barbarians: Essays against Empire Paperback – September, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Writer, historian, and activist Mike Davis is the author many books, including City of Quartz, The Ecology of Fear, The Monster at Our Door, and Planet of Slums. Davis teaches in the Department of History at the University of California at Irvine, and lives in San Diego.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books (September 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931859426
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931859424
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,142,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Worddancer Redux VINE VOICE on September 30, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Mike Davis. He is smart, well-informed and politically astute, and he 'pays attention to that man behind the curtain.' He is also edgy, and sometimes his incisive, biting humor is brilliant.

This collection of essays confirms those judgments (at least by my lights). But there are a disappointingly large number of essays that are simply too old to be of any obvious relevance. Some of the essays published prior to 2004 still have bite and purchase: the essay about SUVs, the revival of nativism and the political utility of the most recent wave of anti-immigration sentiment to right-wing Republicans, and Davis's prognostications about the implications of the Democrats' failure to confront the tactics of the repellent Grover Norquist, for example. And I greatly enjoyed the reprise of the tales of the Sunset Strip riots in 1966-68 (Davis on LA social history is always a treat).

But the commentary about Bush, Inc. produced early in the Bush administration, observations about the self-defeating antics of the Democratic presidental nominee wanna-bes prior to the 2004 campaign, and assessments about the likely fate of Gray Davis in the recall election....well, those are more exercises in publication vanity than reader enlightenment. Sadly, the proportion of older essays of less-than-obvious relevance is quite high.

I'm not sorry I bought (or read) the book. But I was disappointed.
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Mike Davis is an interesting thinker (and good writer) with a popularist point of view steeped in history and political awareness. This is a survey (or sampling) of his commentary in recent years, which covers a gamut of topics organized around the idea that a faltering American imperialism is undermining its culture(and legal system)to the point of near collapse. The current neocon administration seems to be proving Davis' point for him on a daily basis, which only makes "In Praise of Barbarians" that much more relevant. A good, quick read.

Bob Philbin
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Historian and socialist activist Mike Davis presents In Praise of Barbarians: Essays Against Empire, a caustic collection of radical essays hurling blistering attacks on perceived yearnings for empire and other potentially fatal flaws within modern-day America. Chapters discuss social ills ranging from California's increasingly crowded prison system (due to the "Three Strikes" laws that add an ever-growing number lifetime convicts who committed nonviolent offenses), to a commemoration of "anarchist avengers" of the 1890s, to a stinging condemnation of the Pentagon as "Global Slumlord" and much more. Passionate, unapologetic, and relentless in calling out the ruthless side of industrial capitalism, In Praise of Barbarians deserves to be carefully considered as a compelling warning of worsening social ills, regardless of whether the reader agrees with the author's political ideology.
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AS another fan of Davis I particularly enjoyed this collection of his thoughts. Of the 44 'articles' in the book a little more than half were written for the Socialist Review. This should give a prospective reader some indication of what to expect as Davis expresses his opinions with intriguing insights and clarity of thinking on contemporary issues. The remaining pages are reproductions from newspaper articles he has written, speeches given, and meetings attended. He covers almost every issue of political life in the United States sparing very few on either side of the fence. Perhaps his choicest observations concern the conservatives in our midst, of one of whom I used to consider myself a part. Things and thinking are modified by circumstances. Davis offers a welcome hand in changes anyone may contemplate regarding life in these United States. Perhaps a typical example (if Davis has such a thing in his repertoire of opinions) of his pointed observations concerns Bush. "President Bush has painted a vision of the US as a huge gated suburb with security cameras in every tree. For the sake of our saftety, the world outside must become a fre-fire zone for the CIA and Delta Force." And so he persists for the rest of this paragraph on page 15. Not to be spared he also has similarly trenchant observations for the likes of Gore, Gephardt, Clinton, et. al There are some boundaries on the subjects included but not very tightly. He has observations about police control of 'riots' on Hollywood Blvd, in Hollywood. There is even an article about militarization of Greenland and the IWW of 1905. His range is only circumscribed by the breadth of his interest which is almost unbounded. But this is only one of his books.Read more ›
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"In Praise of Barbarians" compiles a large amount of essays and articles written by prominent left-wing author and activist Mike Davis, one of my favorite contemporary writers of nonfiction. Most of these are pieces written for the Socialist Review, the paper of the British SWP (no association with the American SWP), parent party of the International Socialists. Nonetheless these are just as readable and generally accessible as the articles written for The Nation, the Los Angeles Times, and similar periodicals.

Davis covers a wide spectrum of issues from a left-wing perspective here, from the Iraq War to American prisons and from New Orleans to Greenland. As is to be expected with him, the style is engaged and indignant, with a strong historicizing context - he is after all professionally a historian. This is what Davis does well, time and again, and this collection is as such no exception.

It must be noted though that as other reviewers have pointed out, some of the articles are somewhat dated, and the large amount of topics addressed and the imbalance between them gives the whole a scattered and uneven impression. All of the essays/articles are interesting to read, but they have little in common besides Davis having written them, which does not work as well as Davis' cogent and powerful accusatory books do. This collection is recommended but by no means essential.
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