tgrang13, April 23, 2012 (view all comments by tgrang13)
Very good read.....very creepy...seriously, I did get a little paranoid at times. It was reminiscent of 1984, except for it was real. We all knew the Bush administration was bad, but I don't think any of us knew it was necessarily to the extent that Wolf talks about in this book. Although, not surprising at all.. There is also a documentary that is based on this book, and I highly recommend that too, "End of America." She explains that this is not a conspiracy theory book, and she is not accusing anyone in the administration of using Hitler/Stalin/Mussolini tactics, but they are eerily similar. It's also a quick read, she is very to-the-point, and easy to understand.
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The book could be critically important to recent generations of Americans who have forgotten, or never learned about, how democratic governments in other countries have been overturned when their citizens failed to recognize and control the growth of anti-democratic ideals within government. It could alert us to parallels between those events and the changes affecting American democracy for at least the past 150 years or so.
Unfortunately, the author is obsessed with the evils of the Bush adminstration. The basic structure of the book is warped by this obsession. Every brief example of how democracy was subverted elsewhere is paired with a brief example of what may be a similar action that occured in America during the Bush years.
The steady, often-subtle subversion of American democracy didn't begin with the Bush administration. It goes back at least to Lincoln's administration, and gained substantial strength during the Great Depression. The truth of the dangers facing our country is poorly served by the book's focus on the past eight years.
Presenting past and current events as alternating bits and pieces clouds the meaning and significance of the facts. The author's message would be far stronger if we were given coherent chapters on each topic. As it stands, with the pairing of events, the author apparently doubts readers' abilities to sort things out for themselves.
Finally, I'm afraid my academic background has given me a bad habit. When I encounter a footnote notation, I immediately check the footnote (collected in the back of the book, in this case). Didn't take long to recognize that Ms. Wolf's research is woefully inadequate. She relys heavily on journalistic reporting, of the sort that uncritically mixes fact, rumor and opinion, often with an unstated bias to a political viewpoint.
Overall, I'm left with the impression that the author was poorly served by her editor and publisher. A strong editor would have required better scholarship for a book of such possible importance, and suggested improvements in the book's organization and focus. Too bad; opportunity lost.
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t.magnuson, May 29, 2008 (view all comments by t.magnuson)
With the media striving for more and more shock value, with those in public life more motivated by self-interest than community building, it is good to see Naomi Wolf stepping forward to set the record straight, encouraging readers to think for themselves and take a stand. After all the sacrifices our forebearers made, if they could, I'm sure they would jump out of their graves, and throttle some of the jokers who've put greed above grace. Naomi, you go! Ted Magnuson, author 'Those Self Evident Truths.'
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antidubya, November 15, 2007 (view all comments by antidubya)
I found the synopsis on the staff recommendations display at your Cedar Hills Crossing store to be extremely helpful. It caught my eye and led me to read this excellent book. Thank you to the staff at Powell's!
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AG, September 10, 2007 (view all comments by AG)
This is a sobering, terrifying, and enlightening book...and highly recommended.
Among the first lessons the author drives home is that democracy is NOT a spectator sport. The founders did not envisage a country in which the "professionals -- lawyers, scholars, activists, politicians -- politicians -- [should] worry about understanding the Constitution and protecting our rights." As Wolf says, "... the founders did not mean for powerful men and women faraway from the citizens... to protect freedom. They meant for us to do it."
They also certainly didn't consider democracy to be the natural "God-given" order in which civilization conducted itself by. Rather tyranny and oppression were the status quo and liberty was the exception, something to be fought for and clung to for dear life if obtained.
Mrs. Wolf then lists the calculus that all dictators employ to aggregate power: "Invoke an external and internal threat; develop the paramilitary force; create a secret prison system; surveil ordinary citizens; arbitrarily detain and released them; harass citizens' groups; target writers, entertainers, and other key individuals for dissenting; intimidate the press; recast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage"; and eventually subvert the rule of law."
I give credit to Mrs. Wolf for acknowledging that the United States does not parallel past soon-to-be dictatorships such as Italy in 1922 or Germany in 1933. She correctly acknowledges the dis-similarities. Although critics will likely disagree, she handles the disturbing parallels between the past and present tactfully.
Importantly, the author also acknowledges that the shift to dictatorship does not happened suddenly and starkly. Many times, normal daily life is unaffected for most of the population, we can still watch American idol and go to the mall and order pizza, all while our liberties are crumbling away around us.
A remarkable aspect of this book was the amount of research conducted. Time and time again, the author inserts chilling similarities between past and present i.e. past propaganda mimicking the "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier landing.
As a word of warning, those who cannot turn the magnifying lens used to examine those other nations of the past and the present that are so often criticized, upon their own nation, leaders, and actions, this book will come as quite a shock. There's little that can be done about this -- those who subscribe to the, "we" are the forces of good and "they" are never ending evil, Manichaean worldview will not digest this book easily, much to their detriment.
Overall, I think The End of America is a superb and quick read and will recommend it to my friends and family. For further reading, I'd suggest Chalmers Johnson's Nemesis or blogger Arthur Silber.
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The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot
Used Trade Paper
0 stars -
Chelsea Green Publishing Company -
The End of America should be required reading for every American. Rather than giving us a partisan 600-page tome on the crimes of the Bush administration, Naomi Wolf lays out clearly and concisely how we as a people have allowed our government to move perilously close to fascism and points the blame squarely where it belongs: at ourselves. Starting with the premise that it only takes ten changes to move a country from democracy to fascism, she points out the subtle, overlooked ways in which our government is making this happen. Wolf is the new Paul Revere, warning us that only we as citizens can stop the march toward an American fascist state. Anyone who reads this will realize that we are close to the end of real democracy in America, and if we don't stand up and demand real change now, it will soon be far too late.
by Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of the three-volume Eleanor Roosevelt,
"Naomi Wolf's End of America is a vivid, urgent, mandatory wake-up call that addresses momentous issues of tyranny, democracy, and survival."
by Mark Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again,
"The framers of our Constitution fully understood that it can happen here. Patriots like Madison, Paine, and Franklin would certainly applaud Naomi Wolf and recognize her as a sister in their struggle."
by Wes Boyd, co-founder, MoveOn.org,
"Naomi Wolf sounds the alarm for all American patriots. We must come together as a nation and recommit ourselves to the fundamental American idea that no president, whether Democrat or Republican, will ever be given unchecked power."
by Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights,
"You will be shocked and disturbed by this book. Most Americans reject outright any comparison of post 9/11 America with the fascism and totalitarianism of Nazi Germany or Pinochet's Chile. Sadly, the parallels and similarities, what Wolf calls the 'echoes' between those societies and America today, are all too compelling."
by Library Journal,
"Readers will appreciate her energy and urgency as she warns we are living through a dangerous fascist shift brought about by the Bush administration....Her book's publication through a small press in Vermont that is committed to the politics and practice of sustainable living rather than through a large trade house is itself a political act. Highly recommended."
by Chelsea Green Publishing,
The Founding Fathers believed that the proper goal of the State was to make men and women free to develop their faculties and to pursue virtue and wisdom. Our Constitution was built around these principles, protecting civil liberties and developing a careful system of checks and balances which protected our freedom from tyranny. Naomi Wolf's latest work, The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot exposes how the escalation of Executive Power has eroded these core values and systems, limiting our Congress to make laws, and our courts to interpret them — a scenario that our Founding Fathers foresaw and warned against. Wolf outlines in this citizen call to action, reminiscent of Thomas Paine's revered Common Sense, the real threats that exist to our civil liberties and explains how working together we can solve the growing threat.
An impassioned call to action to Americans from all walks of life to restore the checks and balances and our time-honored protections against abuses of power outlined by our Founding Fathers.
Wolfs latest work exposes how the escalation of executive power has eroded the core values surrounding personal freedoms. She outlines in this citizen call to action the real threats that exist to Americans civil liberties and explains how to solve the growing threat.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.