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The United States of Fear Paperback – December 13, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tom Engelhardt created and runs Tomdispatch.com, a project of the Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing, as well as a collection of his Tomdispatch interviews, Mission Unaccomplished. Englehardt is also co-founder and co-editor of Metropolitan Books' The American Empire Project.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608461548
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608461547
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am reading this work, pausing, contemplating the author's presentation, his argument and feeling so many feelings. I have a sense of gratitude to the author. Gratitude for his valor in writing this book. Perhaps his act will be one of the last reference points for what valor used to mean before it became a meaningless logo, perhaps the name of a new video training game to prepare our video game warriors to operate multiple drones over multiple sites. I am absorbing this author's well presented, fact-based presentation of what is happening while we in America fall even deeper and deeper into the sleep of our self-involved issues: our inability to share wealth, our inability to care for our sick, our unwillingness to value the child in our country, to provide a quality public education system, to address poverty...it is a hard book to read. It is an inconvenient truth, one of the thousands of calls to awareness, acceptance and action in this nation of its diminishing seemingly emasculated or deeply drugged, or tremendously distracted society. Perhaps it takes an act of valor to read it....but no, that's not valor either. Valor is something I am wondering about today. Thank you to the author and publishers for putting this forward. I am surprised that more reviews have not been posted...maybe I shouldn't be. Perhaps the only valorous thing a citizen can do is get active, protest, confront and try to maintain a view of workability and a better day for the world, its current state, its future.
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Engelhardt's work, always incisive on military matters -- I almost wrote, "national security," but that would be surrendering to fear -- here extends his analysis beyond the bombs-and-bullets crowd to consider how else the nation's fear of a non-existent boogeyman has warped and twisted the American nation, society, and culture so that they are almost unrecognizable from the pre-Cold War days. "Over a cliff!" Tom warns. Too late. In the four months since the book was published, the US has gone from wrack to ruin. Speculation on gasoline, a quarter of the nation's mortgages "underwater," wildly unfair taxation, the ownership of our politics by whoever coughs up enough millions, vast credit debt, and of course military spending have just about used up our opportunities for change. Now we will bear the bloom of the dragon's teeth planted over the last seven decades. Two hundred years to build a nation, 70 to tear it down. Welcome the Dark Ages. Tom can prepare us, he can't save us. Sigh.
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Something very much in evidence in this book is Mr. Englehardt's ability as a writer. The essays in this book are well written.

Some of the topics covered by the author include terrorism vs. food poisoning in terms of the threat presented to Americans; Raymond Davis; and the author's education about the world through viewing foreign films while growing up in Manhattan in the 1950's. A recurrent subject in the book is the misleading or facial nature of the "deadlines" civilian and military officials give for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. The exorbitant costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan military ventures are another prominent theme. For example, he focuses heavily on the mega-embassies/regional command centers/cities within cities that we have built or are building in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Englehardt quotes a National Priorities Project study which found that the $790 million price tag for the new embassy and consular facilities in Afghanistan could have provided jobs for 22,000 teachers, 15,000 healthcare workers and 13,000 clean energy workers in the US. Other exorbitant costs noted by the author include several tens of billions of dollars in unsuccessful programs to train Afghan military and police and $773,000 to remodel a cinder block building to house a KFC/Taco Bell for our soldiers in Guantanamo Bay. The Gitmo torture camp, of course, is still open though Obama promised to close it.

The American method of fighting the "War on Terror" receives coverage in this book. He discusses examples of civilian casualties from the American war in Afghanistan (along with a few in Iraq).
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Once again, Tom writes a stellar critique. He always seems to hit home runs with his articles and books. His website is a daily must read, and this book should be required reading.
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Good insights into how the US government led by the neocons under Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes and Obama have been turning the country into something that closely resembles the Soviet Union in the 1980’s with spending on the military industrial complex instead of the country’s infrastructure and people.

Tom Englehardt does a good job of illustrating the parallels between the men running the Soviet Union who continued to mistake military power for real power in the world. The power was sufficient to control their own people with its police state although it was not as technically sophisticated as the creation of the US police state begun after September 11. The US has seen its real power, militarily and economically eroded over the past 30 years when measured in terms other than the ability to turn countries back to the stone age with our weapons of mass destruction.

There is an aspect of the Peter principle at play as well where the same men and women in government and the military whose judgment has lead to gross failures continue to be in power and continue to be rewarded despite their obvious failures. The same economic and policy advisors go from one administration to the next so it no longer matters which political party is in control of Congress or the White House.

The price for their failures is paid by soldiers with their lives and the citizens and taxpayers whose quality of life declines year by year. In any listing of industrialized countries in the world the USA consistently ranks 27th or worse in all but the ability to inflict massive damage.

What is missing from Mr. Englehardt’s book though is a broader sense of how we came to be ruled by the neocons and how they are driven not out of a need for military power but for wealth.
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