I'm an American who has lived in "Old Europe" for the past 7 years. Life has been good here, but since the Iraq War the constant complaining about the USA has become very annoying. I too have asked, what did we Americans do wrong to warrant this hatred? This book helped me see that this is not a new phenomenon, but one that goes back decades and was only 'unmasked' by the War. Opinions are not based on American actions, but rather on Amcerica's successes and Europes failures. Revel points out so clearly what is rarely discussed in the New Europe: the self-inflicted disasters of two world wars that destroyed European leadership and handed world leadership to the USA on a platter. The America they complain about was created in large part by Europe's failures. That is not to say that the USA is without some blame. But there is a tendency to blame the USA for everthing, and be silent about the true dangers in the world. This is symptomatic of a dysfunctional psychological process most associated with the weak and 'victims.' As Revel points out, this behavior, associated with the Euopean elite, only makes Europe weaker and the USA stronger. NOTE to Readers: Revel's use of the term 'liberal' is different than from the normal political (negative) meaning in US politics, instead suggesting free-enterprise and consensual governance.
No. I love history, and the title and thesis behind the book attracted me. But within 10 minutes I realized this was more about politics/entertainment than really understanding our past.
I'm always leery of any writer who uses terms like always, never, only, totally, etc. Life is one big bell curve, and there are no absolutes in the human realm (other than that we all die.) When, in the introduction, the author said this book was different from 'all' the other history books, and in his final sentence said, '...never trust the government' then I knew I was listening to something other than history. I can get that kind of stuff on TV. ---
in contrast, I just finished '1776' by David McCullough, a wonderful and touching history of a pivotal year in our history.
This book is wonderful. I have just listened to it for the 2nd time and found it richer and more interesting than the first. The author has good knowledge of the cultures he travels thru, and a very engaging way of writing. He touches on (1) the people he meets along the way, (2) the history of the area itself, and (3) his personal experiences (he can evoke a mental painting of what he sees and hears with a minimum of words - very rich). In addition, the lands he traverses are so mysterious and exotic - he truly made my world seem larger. The readier is tops, with an incredible array of voices and expression. He makes the book come alive. Buy it, listen to it, and take your trip to mysterious parts of our world which are certainly the silk road less traveled.
This is a very bold and thought provoking book that addresses 9/11 and the future we face. Harris has a hard message for a country possibly gone soft; a message that many modern, progressive Americans will not want to hear.
- Civilized societies like the US 'forget' the hardship, sacrifice and luck that resulted in their stability and prosperity.
- The role of 'fantasy ideologies' has been underestimated, but those ideologies have resulted in the most death and destruction in our time, e.g. Nazism, Marxism, Fascism, Radical Islam, etc.
- Fantasy ideologies judge society to be flawed or defective, and advocate that it can and should be changed. (We hear plenty of this kind of talk in modern America).
- Civilized societies are at disadvantage against 'gangs' of men, who nurse a fantasy ideology, AND who are willing to be ruthless in their pursuit of the ideology. Gang + Fantasy Ideology + Ruthlessness = Threat to Civilization = the Enemy.
- How can a civilized society protect itself from this threat? Read the book and see what you think.
After a century of failed ideologies and societal dead ends (with their gulags, concentration camps, and killing fields) we are actually poised for the next stage of history: the possibility of a utopian society that the world has never been seen. The USA, equipped with its unique heritage and "team" focus which absorbs internal conflict, can/must lead the world through this process. To fail to do so is to turn our future over to those who will believe the world needs to be changed, and who will do anything to make it happen. This would be the price of forgetfulness. There is much else of value in this book, and it can serve as a stimulus for discussion as we look at our past, and as we construct the future we leave to our children.
The narrator is the best I"ve ever heard on an audio book, intuitively emphasizing Harris message with tone and inflection. An impressive production.
I rank this book as one of most important I've read this year. Like many, I found myself polarized by 9/11 and the run up to the Iraq War. I came to my own conclusions about what was happening and why. Friedman's fine book showed me that I had alot to learn. He makes a point of avoiding emotional approaches, choosing to focus on the political and historical underpinnings of the current situation, and how the conflict has actually played out. I recommend it to anyone, left or right, who truly cares about our collective future. Friedman has 'turned on the lights'.
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