Empire of Illusion

The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
Narrated by: Jonathan Yen
Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (121 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

We now live in two Americas. One - now the minority - functions in a print-based, literate world that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other - the majority - is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. To this majority - which crosses social class lines, though the poor are overwhelmingly affected-presidential debate and political rhetoric is pitched at a sixth-grade level.

In this "other America", serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins of society. In the tradition of Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges navigates this culture - attending WWF contests, the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas, and Ivy League graduation ceremonies - to expose an age of terrifying decline and heightened self-delusion.

©2009 Chris Hedges (P)2018 Tantor
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Graphic language describing violence & pornography

The premise that Americans are distracted by illusion, celebrity status, and trivia is correct. The information could have been delivered without the repeated detailed graphic depictions & statements from porn stars and the descriptive violence regarding wrestling. I wanted the information but it was a painful & disturbing listen. The narrator did not convey that he was disturbed by the graphic reading.

2 people found this helpful

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Chris Hedges

Hedges consistently brings sharp analysis to U.S. society, the corporate state and imperialism. Excellent book!

1 person found this helpful

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For hating Spectacle so much, he sure revels in it

I really didn't enjoy this book. I'm fact, I quit reading about two-thirds of the way through. The author flogged readers with evidence that we are disgustly banal and mindless in our willingness to be entertained. I didn't need endless, detailed, nearly microscopic evidence this was the case. In many ways he makes a gratuitous case for his point, proving that he is susceptible to being entertained by Spectacle, too. Wrestling, sex, etc. all provide detailed fodder for his case. I was looking for insight. Perhaps some notion of how we could change culture a little. If it's there, the author saved it completely until the end. Me? I was convinced of his case before I started. I was hoping for hope. I didn't find any.

3 people found this helpful

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I think if more people read Chris Hedges..

The world would be a better place. No author has impacted me more than he has. This is my favorite book of his. I just finished it and I think it just changed my life. It's so powerful. His ability to diagnose society is impeccable

3 people found this helpful

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A lot of Hype

The author is quite graphic in unnecessary details. He almost derives a sadistic pleasure from using references from the pornography industry. This section of the book was far over done to make a point that could have been made in many other was. He lost all credibility with me during this chapter and never won me back. There are better books out there. Skip this one.

7 people found this helpful

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A superficial tirade

Although I agree with everything Chris Hedges wrote, I found this book tiresome and silly. The author attacks the easy targets, such as pornography, American universities, political liberalism and conservatism. The book becomes a very long tirade stating the obvious, lacking depth and courage to broach the fundamental issues that brought about the end of the American culture.

9 people found this helpful

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Amazing

While depressing this book is a must read given the current state of affairs. Must purchase

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Excellent and rare exposure of the Truth

Few books I have read that are as erudite and convincing if the absolute collapse of the American empire.

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Heavy but true and done in style of entertainment

Entetaining read. Engaging ideas. Saying everything I already thought...except for the end which felt rushed and like a neat little bow to wrap up the complexities of the human experience.