Synopses & Reviews
The preeminent political essayist writes about the perversion of America's democratic legacy under George W. Bush—and makes a compelling case for impeachment.
Lewis Lapham stands virtually alone among mainstream American journalists in having consistently seen through the fog of lies and narcissism surrounding the Bush administration from its earliest days in Washington. Pretensions to Empire brings together Lapham's trenchant political commentaries from his award-winning "Notebook" column in Harper's, giving us a complete picture of a presidency whose brazen abuses of power—and incompetence—have led the United States down a precipitous path, culminating in Lapham's eloquent case for impeachment.
From a perspective deeply informed by history, Lapham's essays measure the current political moment against a backdrop of past events. Whether discussing the failure of the Bush administration's imperial project in Iraq, its shameless servitude to the country's corporate and religious minority and equally shameful ineptitude in responding to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, or the disturbing revelations of illegal domestic spying authorized by the president himself, Lapham perceives in George W. Bush and his allies a fundamental betrayal of the nation's democratic heritage.
Written with the clarity of thought and elegance of prose that have become Lapham's signature style over the years, Pretensions to Empire is a brilliant and provocative work of political reportage.
"The well-respected and much-fted editor emeritus of Harper's magazine and recipient of a National Magazine Award, Lapham presents a collection of previously published articles that range from the funding of think tanks and propaganda outfits to the rigging of the 2004 election and the response to Hurricane Katrina. Overall, this book is a lament for the state of our society and a bitter condemnation of the Republican hold on power and the machinations with which that grip has been cultivated and sustained. Lapham's dense and self-assured style is rivaled only by that of William F. Buckley Jr. in delivering a whopping dose of sanctimony and affectation with each paragraph. Though more erudite than Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly, Lapham's essays are similarly bereft of a sustained line of argument. He also shares their irredeemably dark view of human nature, or at least of Americans, who we learn are '[w]arfaring people, unique in our gift for violence... killing anyone and anything.' Above all, he seems to enjoy nothing more than to display his boundless contempt for all those who are not him. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A preeminent political essayist writes about the perversion of America's democratic legacy under George W. Bush and makes a compelling case for impeachment.
About the Author
Lewis Lapham is editor emeritus of Harper's Magazine and one of the country's most respected journalists. A recipient of a National Magazine Award for his essay writing, he is the author of several books, including, most recently, With the Beatles. The New Press has published two of his previous essay collections, Theater of War and 30 Satires. He lives in New York City.