Lucid, rigorous and thoroughly documented, Hegemony or Survival is Chomsky's most urgent and sweeping work in years. Certain to spark widespread debate, it is a definitive statement from one of the world's most influential political thinkers.
©2003 Noam Chomsky; (P)2003 Audio Renaissance, A Division Of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
"Judged in terms of the power, range, novelty, and influence of his thought, Noam Chomsky is arguably the most important intellectual alive." (The New York Times)
"In this highly readable...critique of American foreign policy from the late 1950s to the present...Chomsky brings together many themes he has mined in the past, making this cogent and provocative book an important addition to an ongoing public discussion about U.S. policy." (Publishers Weekly)
This is a dense analytical examination of US foreign policy, very much in the usual Chomsky tradition. The reader reads it entirely too fast, so it's often hard to follow the arguments. It sounds like he's rushing through it. It would have been great if Chomsky read it himself.
I found the ideas and concepts fascinating (if scary) but I had to force myself to continue listening because the reader was so bad. Would have been better if the author had read the whole thing instead of just an introduction. The person reading the book apparently got paid a bonus for reading as fast as possible, with extra points for butchered inflections. As a result, it was very tough to follow the reasoning of the author sometimes.
This books "explains" today's policies by comparing it to America's actions throughout the last century. I guess it could be considered to be a left leaning book, but I found it very balanced and well reasoned. It is always helpful to compare current events with the past. I was also surprised to hear the author express optimism during a recent televised forum; he thinks the American public is better informed about the Iraq war today than it was during the beginning of the Vietnam war - it took many years before there was any awareness about Vietnam. This is not a rant! I think even conservatives should read this and could find value in it.
Noam gets to the point, and stays on point. That point is that America has steadily been growing in power and influence to become a great and total global hegemony under the control of Corporate and military interests. It may take a few listens to let the gravity of this work sink in. This is not "lite" reading by any means. The reading is quick and the content deep, so don't try multi-tasking to this one.
Everyone should read this book, you do not have to agree with the information provided but, it is about time that the world realised that there are always two sides to a story and not swallowed what the state and media feed to us. The easy way out is to claim that it is anti-American but, that is not what it is all about ... the actions of a state are not necessarily representative of its' population.
Personally, I found the whole book very distressing because it left me with a real feeling of sadness about the horrors that we, as human beings, heap on ourselves and our environment. It left me wanting to know more and wanting to do more ... despite a feeling of complete uselessness in the face of state power. This, I would imagine, was the goal that Noam Chomsky seeks ... ask and seek more information.
If you have ever wondered how those evil terrorists see the United States, or for that matter, if you have ever wondered just why do so many foreigners see things differently than we who were blessed to be born American, then this book will be a real eye-opener.
Suppose the proverbial "man from Mars" came to visit planet Earth. He doesn't understand anybody's language here; all he can do is see what we do. How can he tell the difference between acts of the terrorists who blow up buildings and buses, hurting and killing people, from the acts state-sponsored retaliation when the Israeli defense forces shoot missiles at homes from helicopter gunships, hurting and killing people?
The lesson of this book is to stop parroting the political catch-phrases our leaders and their ememies use to justify their behavior and look at the behavior itself. If you read this book with an open mind you will never be the same.
I have read a fair amount of modern history, and was only vaguely aware (like most Americans) of the many of Chomsky's facts and assertions. Some were so startling that I felt I needed to verify. After researching four and finding them unassailable, I stopped trying to fault the facts. The indictment of US foreign policy that Chomsky devolves from these facts is at such variance with our view of ourselves that one is inclined to look for an explanation. If the facts are not false, then perhaps the interpretation is the problem, so I examined the logic by re-reading the book with careful attention to the relationship between facts and conclusion. There are weaknesses in some place where an argument depends on ?respected commentator? or some other unsupported assertion. However, even if one throws out all of the marginal cases, he is still left with a great deal to be dealt with--a paradigm changer for the honest and open minded, and something to be reviled and suppressed for those determined to believe that Americans are the good guys who go around the world altruistically stamping out evil.
Chomsky stops short of a monolithic conspiracy theory, but the pattern of behavior of the US over the last 60 years that is painted by this book is remarkably consistent and disturbing.
I can't say that I enjoyed listening to this audio book - but this is more because of it's topic - the drive of US administrations etc. for hegemony - than because of the narrative. I was very often appalled by what I listened to.
It was very revealing to hear about the openly led discourse in the USA on how to rule the world and the reasons for doing so.
Albeit it just a very small issue in the overall context, it was intriguing to hear how the USA counter any efforts of other countries to prevent the militarisation of space.
Even if you back US politics and diplomatic efforts around the globe - which this reviewer does only seldomly -, you should read or listen to what Mr. Chomsky has to say. At least for the benefit of future generations on this planet.
Chomsky gives a blow by blow type of recapitulation of the U.S.'s foreign policy from the events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis to our current war in Iraq. It's hard not to see the inconsistencies in the policies we hold when one decade any given people are considered terrorists (supported or not by the U.S.) and the next decade they are labeled as "freedom fighters" for "democracy". Also it's difficult to ignore the Big Money connection to our foreign policy, and Chomsky does very well to mention those influences.
Having listened to John Adams Biography recently, it smacks in similarity to the power and manipulation that France exercized in American Independence. When you strip away the nobility and glory that 8th grade American history texts give to our own Revolution, America's independence was 'granted' by France more so that America would be an economic and small political resource for Frances plan of hegemony. Nomsky implies that the US's foreign policy is no more interested in other countries (Irag, Nicaragua, Cuba etc.) gaining "democracy" than France was interested in the nobel act of freeing America.
Flaws: The narrator speaks a bit too quickly for some of Chompsky's powerful statements. The book is not broken into chapters, so it's one continuous read (listen).
This work is remarkable and I wish there were more Chomskys out there! He tells it like it is, without hesitation and in a convincing manner. His writing is extremely eloquent, and his statements are always concise. His writings on Nicaragua were eye-opening. The one problem I had with this audio book was the narrator. He speaks in a rush, and it's exhausting to listen to for a long period of time. I listened to it during my commute in little 'spurts'. Even though my iPod has the option to slow it down, the sound quality diminishes so I've tried to bare it with the original fast speed. His tone stays the same throughout and perhaps it's good for some listeners but it was hard for me to stay concentrated. I might buy the actual book and read it myself in my spare time.
"History given the voice of fact....unmissable"
This is a thrilling book. No heroes, no heroics, no opinions, no villains, no vilification - just the facts...laid end to end so that they speak for themselves. The moral pronouncements and appeals of other 'dissident' voices pale under the crystal objectivity of Chomsky's clear insight into where we are and how we got here. Ideologies are built up and peeled away with the words of the political leaders, the ambassadors, the resolutions and the briefings - verbatim in all their high minded contradictions. Words quoted, actions detailed, patterns established, understanding conveyed. Where is Chomsky in all of this? Unshowy, impeccable, scrupulous, reliable, authorative - he slips into the background and allows Masters of the New Imperialism speak for themselves. Authorial indignation, appeals to morality, the radical as romantic hero?....all rendered irrelevant against historical fact. Read this book and then recommend it to someone else, important doesn't begin to describe it.
"Interesting and insightful"
The content is very good - Chomsky has been comprehensive and expansive in his explanations. The book is circa 2003 so some of the points are more relevant to that time than to 10 years later. All in all it's well worth a listen and has a lot of extremely valid and interesting points and examples.
The narrator is American and I found his narrating a bit annoying - from the regular mispronunciation of hegemony as "he-jem-inny" (and yes, I know it's the American way, but is still sounds like English is being butchered) to his attempts to dramatise some passages. With Chomsky's writing, the whole point is that it is calm and matter of fact, so increasing the pace and stressing certain points in the narration didn't seem right and got on my nerves.
Overall, I would recommend it and say it is definitely worth a listen.
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