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Interventions (City Lights Open Media)by Noam Chomsky
Synopses & Reviews
Interventions by Noam Chomsky is getting new press after the Pentagon banned the book from Guantanamo Bay's prison library. The Miami Herald broke the story on October 11, 2009 and stories followed in The Washington Independent, the Boston Herald, and other outlets. Democracy Now! picked up the story on October 13: “Published in 2007, Interventions compiles a series of Chomsky's columns. The Pentagon has refused to explain why the book has been barred.”
“Chomsky is a global phenomenon . . . perhaps the most widely read voice on foreign policy on the planet.”—The New York Times Book Review
Interventions is Noam Chomsky at his best.
Not since his all-time best-selling title, 9/11, published in the Open Media series in 2001, have readers had a timely, short, easy-to-read, affordable Chomsky. Unlike 9/11, Interventions is a writerly work—a series of more than thirty tightly argued essays aimed at various aspects of US power and politics in the post-9/11 world. While critical of US military interventions around the globe, each piece in the book is in itself an intellectual intervention aimed at raising public ire about the consequences of US use of power at home and abroad.
Interventions’ subjects span from 9/11 and the Iraq war to Social Security and Intelligent Design, South America and Asia, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the election of Hamas, Hurricane Katrina, and the US concept of “just war.”
According to BusinessWeek, “With relentless logic, Chomsky bids us to listen closely to what our leaders tell us—and to discern what they are leaving out. . . . Agree with him or not, we lose out by not listening.” Chomsky’s Interventions delivers what readers want: an accessible set of skeleton keys for opening up a wide range of global issues dominating today’s political landscape.
Noam Chomsky is the critically acclaimed author of many books, including Hegemony or Survival, Imperial Ambitions, Failed States, Manufacturing Consent, and Media Control.
"Though sometimes distracted by topics like Hurricane Katrina or South America, the essays in Chomsky's latest, written for the New York Times Syndicate between September 2002 and July '06, are largely concerned with Iraq, seen through the combative, populist (though by no means popular) convictions that the linguist and activist has become known for. His long-standing criticism of Israel makes it the next-most discussed topic; he accuses Israel of kidnapping and killing civilians and wonders why no has yet called for a Desert Storm-style invasion of the Jewish state. Though he clearly represents a voice unfettered by elitist concerns, tainted money or fear of reprisal, what comes through most strongly-indeed, what drives his arguments-isn't special insight into the issues at hand, but simple disgust with American imperialism and hypocrisy. Many pieces have been rendered irrelevant by events (though Chomsky offers footnoted updates), and he's no prose stylist. Few newspaper or magazines print Chomsky's work; given his views and his gloom-and-doom style, it's understandable." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"For all his celebrity on the academic and activist left, Noam Chomsky, the linguist turned gadfly, goes all but unnoticed inside the Capital Beltway. And this neglect, according to Chomsky's new collection of op-ed articles, 'Interventions,' is not benign. 'Chomsky's op-eds have been picked up widely by the international press,' according to an editor's note, but American '"newspapers of record" have... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) declined to publish them.' When I picked up the new Chomsky collection, my first reaction was to be glad that City Lights Books — 'published at the City Lights Bookstore,' in San Francisco — had brought out what promised to be a refreshing, if sometimes infuriating, challenge to conventional smugness. No such luck. Chomsky's 44 brief essays, along with some supplementary notes added for republication, come to just over 200 loosely set pages. Yet this short book proves a chore to get through. To be sure, Chomsky's trademark barbs and provocations are here, but so are his flights to a separate reality. In Chomsky's universe, the 2001 U.S. attack on Afghanistan's Taliban 'was undertaken with the expectation that it might drive several million people over the edge of starvation.' And North Korea's counterfeiting racket may actually be a CIA operation. And the Clinton administration intervened militarily in Kosovo not in order to prevent ethnic cleansing but to impose Washington's neoliberal economic agenda. And President Bush — the first and only U.S. president to declare formal American support for a Palestinian state — is the obstacle to a two-state solution that Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran are all prepared to accept. (I am not making that up.) This kind of tendentious whimsy is more peculiar than interesting; as the pages turn, one becomes inured to it and begins to yawn. Also working against readability is that some columns ramble, some repeat, and some are compilations of news clippings. None of those flaws, however, would condemn Chomsky's collection to instant forgettability if it offered fresh analysis or supple argument. Instead the reader gets the sneaking suspicion that the author has not felt the need to adjust an opinion in 30 or so years. As all who have read Chomsky know, he believes that 'every form of authority and domination bears a severe burden of proof.' The United States is the world's mightiest power, and its survival instinct, like that of all great powers, is the 'imperial mentality' of domination and control. America, for Chomsky, has long been a major perpetrator of state terror; but now, with the advent of the Bush administration, 'The most powerful state in history has proclaimed that it intends to control the world by force.' Because 'Interventions' spans September 2002 to March 2007, the Iraq War naturally preoccupies it. That war, however, does not fit well into Chomsky's template. 'The United States cannot tolerate a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq,' Chomsky claims. Just imagine, he says, the policies that such an Iraq would be likely to pursue: 'The Shiite population in the south, where most of Iraq's oil is, would have a predominant influence. They would prefer friendly relations with Shiite Iran.' He wrote those words in January 2006. A year and a half later, the United States tolerates a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq whose Shiite government is friendly toward Iran. If Bush is pursuing imperialism in Baghdad, it is of a very curious sort. In truth, foreign policy in the Bush years has blended aggression, humanitarianism, idealism and realism into a strange new brew. Pouring this new wine into old anti-imperialist bottles hardly does it justice. Heaven knows, the world needs a pointed, perceptive leftist critique of Bush's foreign policy and America's blind spots, but Chomsky, on the evidence of this tired book, is not the thinker to provide it. Jonathan Rauch is a senior writer with National Journal and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution." Reviewed by Jonathan Rauch, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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Book News Annotation:
It may surprise even long-time American readers of prominent US foreign policy critic Noam Chomsky to learn that since 2002 he has been penning brief 1000-word essays that have been distributed around the world by the New York Times Syndicate as opinion-editorials (although they will be less surprised to find out that not one has ever appeared in the pages of the Times itself). This volume collects 44 of those pieces, in which Chomsky critically analyzes events from September 2002 through March 2007. As might be expected, the bulk of the essays deal with the US invasion of Iraq, but other issues are covered as well, including Hurricane Katrina, threats against Iran, the recent Israeli attack on Lebanon, the Israel- Palestine conflict, and the politically leftward drift of Latin America. Also included is a foreword by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's Peter Hart on the dearth of critical voices in the American corporate media. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Short, forceful commentaries on U.S. politics from Latin America to the Middle East.
Cultural Writings. Current Affairs. INTERVENTIONS is Noam Chomsky at his best. Not since his all-time best-selling title, 9/11, published in the Open Media series in 2001, have readers had a timely, short, easy-to-read, affordable Chomsky. Unlike 9/11, INTERVENTIONS is a writerly work--a series of more than thirty tightly argued essays aimed at various aspects of US power and politics in the post-9/11 world. While critical of US military interventions around the globe, each piece in the book is in itself an intellectual intervention aimed at raising public ire about the consequences of US use of power at home and abroad.
About the Author
Noam Chomsky was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 7, 1928. He studied linguistics, mathematics, and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1955, he received his Ph. D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Since receiving his Ph. D., Chomsky has taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. His work is widely credited with having revolutionized the field of modern linguistics. Chomsky is the author of numerous best-selling political works, which have been translated into scores of countries worldwide. His most recent books are the New York Times bestseller Hegemony or Survival, Failed States, Imperial Ambitions, What We Say Goes, INTERVENTIONS, and The Essential Chomsky.
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