Business Week once said "reading Chomsky is like standing in a wind tunnel." And they may well have been talking about Hopes and Prospects. With unimpeachable evidence and ruthless logic, Chomsky quickly batters down popular notions about the American political system. Unlike many other books by highly intellectual professors, however, the author opts to write in an accessible, easily understandable style instead of showing off his vocabulary.
Instead of accepting the idea that members of the government as representatives of the popular will and servants of the public good, Chomsky approaches power cynicism. Power, he argues, has little concern for the average person. Instead, it ruthlessly serves the interests of the elite. Drawing on official documents, mainstream scholarship, and candid remarks by officials, he demolishes every notion about our government that we hear from the media, learn in school, and are told by our leaders.
Although Hopes and Prospects utilizes sources which are in the public record, the issues discussed are not part of the public consciousness. The stories, salvaged from dusty archives and little read policy journals, are as shocking as they are unheard of. The Iraq war was launched in the expectation it would increase the risk of terrorism. Woodrow Wilson, far from the idealist he is portrayed as, sent marines to install brutal pro-American dictatorship across Latin America. The second Bush administration kidnapped Haiti's first elected President and installed a bloody dictatorship.
Hopes and Prospects is a compilation of hundreds of such anecdotes, drawn from official records, but erased from official memory. The reader is left as shocked at the book's revelations as they are that they had never heard of them before. Agree with Chomsky or not, no one's political education is complete without reading at least one of his books. Not many books can radically reshape your worldview in a few hours.
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