Mailer unleashes his trademark moral rigor on an administration he believes is recklessly endangering our very notion of freedom and democracy. For more than 50 years, in classic works of both fiction and nonfiction, Mailer has persistently exposed the folly of the powerful and the mighty. Beginning with his debut masterpiece, The Naked and the Dead, Mailer has repeatedly told the truth about war and why men fight. Why Are We at War? returns Mailer to the subject he knows better than any other writer in America today: the gravity of the battlefield and the grand hubris of the politicians who send soldiers there to die.
Executive Producer: Sherry Huber
Producer: Steve Gome
Cover design: Daniel Rembert
© 2003 by Norman Mailer
(P) 2003 by Random House, Inc.
"Mailer offers a provocative - and persuasive - cultural and intellectual frame." (Newsweek)
Roughly two parts to the work, the first an evaluation of the terrorist attack and guesses as to what motivates the terrorists (resentment at Western success, US support of Israel, and fear of slowly disappearing Islamic culture); the second, much longer part, an analysis of how that attack has affected American culture (initial patriotic fervor that quickly deteriorated into flag-waving, the Bush administration's rapid implementation of NeoCon policy using the attack as a catalyst, etc.) Distinguishes between "Flag Republicans" and "Old Conservatives". Some thoughtful remarks on Democracy vs. Facism and American willingness to relinquish civil rights. Like Pat Buchanan, Mailer assumes that the Bush/NeoCon goal is a global American empire. Thoughtful and unsettling.
This book is certain to frustrate people who wish to avoid difficult questions of the U.S. and prefer to resort to name calling and flag waving. However, if you believe that a democracy *depends* on critical thinking to survive, you will likely find this book very engaging. While clearly opinionated, this book is hardly conspiracy theory. The factual comparisons between the PNAC and our current foreign policy in particular should be considered by everyone. Mr. Mailer's thoughts on terrorism are darkly sober but refreshingly void of the useless extremes of "they're simply evil" and "we deserve it" that too often dominate the sound-bite debates. Geopolitics are not black and white and Norman Mailer has done a great job trying to make sense of this very gray time.
Our government's own documents and unbiased independent research support what Mailer says. More and more informed voices are now weighing in. We Americans are so bloated with fast food and commercial-TV watching that our brains don't work properly anymore. Read up on recent history; see how our leaders have contradicted themselves, including Clinton, about what we are doing abroad, and why. The facts are there for us to discover. Thank you Norman Mailer.
It was a relief to hear that not everyone is turning a blind eye to a potentially dangerous time in American history. Mr Mailer has dared to speak the harse truth about the dangers of allowing our fears to lead us into the same self-destructive choices made by other great cultures that have preceeded us. "Why Are We At War" asks that we take a close look at the amounts of power we give out elected leaders, and at the rights we are all too eager to give up in the name of security and personal safety.It's an important opus, to which I say, "Amen".
Norman Mailer brings startling wisdom and insight into the impact of Sept. 11 upon the American psyche and politics. He articulates the dangers facing this country with the eleqance of a poet and the factual command of a consummate journalist. Norman Mailer, at 80, is intellectually vigorous, thought provoking, important to hear. Listen to him and marvel at him.
I would put money down that most (if not all) of the people who gave this book a negative review (including the reviewer who says that they're 'no fan of Dubya') were trying to sink Mailer's book without having even listened to it on the pretext that it's critical of our president (who we can all agree drew upon his great reserve of experience and understanding of international politics before he launched the campaign on Iraq).
If they HAD listened, they would know that Mailer's book is not some extreme liberal reactionary polemic but an intelligent and well-considered essay - even if it does run counter to these 'reviewers' take on current American policy.
Listen. Consider intelligently. And then react.
This is not a book you should breeze through without engaging your brain, unlike many readers nowadays whose attention spans are, sadly, measured in sound bites and suffering single-tiered reasoning. Mailer achieves a lot in this book toward conveying the conflicted state of America and the conflicting choices it faces. He carefully defines the terms he uses as he interprets them, such as what a "patriot" is, and then presents his arguments and, yes, often his personal opinions.
Gasp! No! Something written that presents a--GULP!--opinion? YES. And opinions are good things. It's when you shut up and toe the line that results in your sudden awakening to a world gone mad.
Mailer certainly doesn't toe the current adminstration's line, but his love for the U.S. and reverence for democracy, as well as his passionate desire to preserve it, is unquestionable.
A terrific book, well worth the read. Something that offers a different view besides the rubber-stamped and sanctioned chorus line of conservatives chanting together, "shut-up, do as you're told, opinions are bad," which threatens to to stifle the heart of America: our freedom to disagree and express our views, no matter who you are, without fear.
What a relief to have a leftist (Mailer) admit that PNAC (Project for the New American Century) will save the world from itself. With the rightly super-rich having squeezed the once grotesquely over-sized middle class into sweet oblivion, it will once again be economical to bring all those jobs back home to America, so that the 'nuculer' family can subsist in poverty as the GL intended. A search on PNAC will reveal the word.
While Mr. Mailer is an author I normally respect, I think that this book is founded on political opinon, not fact. What a shame that when the country is trying to pull together he cannot see the light through the trees. I did not vote for Mr. Bush nor do I like war. However, I do believe that Mr. Mailer is WAY off base, in fact he is way out in left field here. This book was not worth the time it took to read it.
No facts. Just leftist disinformation. He only wants to blame America for all of the worlds problems. Unless you are a member of the leftist choir, dont waste your money. Goebbels would have been proud of this book, for the hatred of the USA and the Capitalist- Free Enterprise system is spewed forth in this book very well.
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