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Stuff Happens: A Play 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0571226061
ISBN-10: 057122606X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“His best political play yet . . . An exhilarating account of the genesis of the current war in Iraq.” ―John Lahr, The New Yorker

“The most significant theatrical artifact yet to grow from our catastrophic times.” ―Linda Winer, Newsday

“The most feverishly anticipated play in London in recent memory.” ―Ben Brantley, The New York Times

About the Author

David Hare is one of Britain's most renowned playwrights. His works--including Skylight (Faber, 1995), Amy's View (Faber, 1997), and Via Dolorosa (Faber, 1999)--are frequently performed on Broadway.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057122606X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571226061
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
The title of this decidedly anti-war play sets the stage for its theme: Asked about the looting of Baghdad, a glib Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, remarks, "Stuff happens". In the play, a core group of presidential advisors gathers, discussing a strategy for unseating Iraq's Saddam Hussein, coupling this concept with the protection of America from further terrorist attacks, such as 9/11. Carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages, paper warriors assemble behind closed doors in a series of clandestine meetings. The result will shock the world, the birth of the Doctrine of Preemptive Strike. Caught in the "lethal rhetoric of global wealth and privilege", the discussions yield a number of assumptions; right or wrong, these assumptions will remain a footnote to history, the cause taking on a life of its own.

An impressive cast of characters assembles: the Neo-cons, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice; the Brits: Tony Blair, Jack Straw, David Manning; the French, Jacques Chirac, Dominique de Villepin, Jean-David Levitte; the temporary voice of reason, Colin Powell; and the bit players, Hans Blix, Kofi Annan, Mohammed ElBaradei. The dialog goes on, endless ruminations broken only by short breaks for refreshment. Though nothing specific is articulated at this point in the play, events are set in motion, the majority of characters of the same mind. Adamant that military action is the method of last resort, the players perform a shadow dance, Kabuki Theater, their silence impregnable. Deals are made, Tony Blair mollified.

Secretary of State Powell is the singular voice of reason, given to practicality where the others imagine a more ambitious goal. But Powell capitulates and the great experiment grinds into high gear.
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I enjoyed David Hare's documentary play very much. Though I found it unusually disjointed, it is probably much more palatable when it is performed, and what still compelled me to give it my highest rating is the content, being the many outrageous and surreal statements made by W, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Powell, Blair, et al, as well as depictions of meetings and events, all gathered together in one place, which really helps you appreciate the systematic deception presented to the American and British people. In the Author's Note, Hare states that most events and quotes are authentic, and he thanks his sources. My guess is that he received a great deal of help/material/insight from Colin Powell, whose recollection of events is of interest. A quick but chilling read.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent play and a fascinating read. It puts all the threads of the buildup to the Iraq war in one place, and even offers insight into the possible reasons for British Priminister Tony Blair's complicity in the American administration's scheme. I highly recommend Stuff Happens.
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David Hare's Stuff Happens is a profound literary work of historic and political significance. Hare is able to craft a drama from the historic record that not only reflects the complexity and subtle manipulations that occurred around the US's invasion of Iraq, but also is able to develop a compelling drama around the character of Colin Powell and his struggle to bring some glimpse of reality into a White House dominated by reactionary and rigid ideological dogma. Very few works of literature are able to fully capture the complexity of a historic or political event. Hilary Mantel is able to capture the reign of terror in A Place of Greater Safety and Gore Vidal is able to capture the character of a great president in Lincoln, but Hare must be added to the list of great writers who are able to capture complexity and yet retain a narrative thread.

In the short play, we see behind the scenes as President Bush makes poor decisions as he listens to the advice of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Cheney is probably the darkest character in the play. He is highly manipulative and Hare's narrative would indicate that Cheney knew much of the information fed to the US public was false information so as to be able to invade and maintain continued occupational forces in Iraq. There were many reasons to attack Iraq, such as their support for Palestinian suicide bombers, to protect Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan; or to protect Israel. Hare never tries t pull it all into a simple package for he recognizes the issues are multi-factorial in origin.
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