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Empire of Illusion: 256 [Paperback]

Chris Hedges
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Nov 2010
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 reading 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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Reprint edition (11 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568586132
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568586137
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.1 x 0.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Chris Hedges is a fellow of The Nation Institute. He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans, with fifteen years at the New York Times. He is the author of the best-selling War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists. He currently writes for numerous publications, including Harper's, The New York Review of Books, Granta, and Mother Jones. A columnist for Truthdig, he lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The shadows on the cave's wall... 8 Mar 2011
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
In describing the use of illusion as a distraction from the reality of our lives, it is not surprising that Hedges quotes one of the first recorded metaphors which explained this distinction, Plato's cave dwellers, who thought the shadows on the wall were the actual reality. Illusion vs. Reality; Illusion as a deliberate distraction from Reality - issues that have been with us for a long time. Hedges has written an angry polemic against the Illusions that dominate American life; those that succumb to them, and those that promote them. Have the use of illusions in our society become more prevalent today than 100 years ago? Hedges does not really say. But what he does focus on is the here and now and how it could be so much different.

Hedges account is richly anecdotal; certainly the one I will always remember, and Hedges provides the references, is that 42% of college graduates never read another book in their lives (p 44). What he does not mention, and the reader can do their own informal survey, is the quality of books that are read by the other 58%. A casual perusal of an airport bookstore, or even the top 100 books, in terms of sales, at Amazon, can be disheartening. "The Illusion of Literacy" is a fitting title for the first chapter.

And in that first chapter the author managed to "draw me in" by discussing the illusion that is the "drama" of the World Wrestling Federation. I used to watch it with my son, when he was 9-10 years old, and even then he realized it was hokey.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hedges reports that American culture has slid into a vast, narcotizing, fantasy realm that distracts us from confronting the economic, environmental, political and moral collapse that surrounds us. The argument goes beyond Neil Postman's in that media and journalism are smoking the same pipes, and have become vapid celebrities and courtiers instead of truth diggers. Financial movers and shakers are indifferent to the human suffering they are causing. It takes enormous effort for the citizenry to achieve clear sightedness since society has become a vast forum for illusion immersion. As the country hurtles toward the rocks ahead, there are demogogues lying in wait for their chance to peddle yet more illusions of healing and relief. As despair and disillusion become more acute and riots erupt, the incipient forces of authoritarian clampdown will have the excuse they've been waiting for to destroy civil liberties, restore order and make the Constitution a faded memory. As Hedges notes, "the tools are in place" and all that's needed is a national crisis to legitimize their use. The novel feature of Hedges's diagnosis is that hatred of the present elites that are leading us to destruction through greed or pipedreams is growing, and these familiar elites may be thrown overboard in favor of a new cadre we cannot imagine, but who will immerse America in a deep valley of tears with all exits blocked. The route will be blindness to our crisis, then despair, then social convulsions, then the clampdown that extinguishes our democracy for good for the sake of law and order. Hedges lists the illusions we"ve bought into that are greasing the slide.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars shocking and prophetic 9 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book makes for a powerful read to say the least. It points to the corruption at the heart of contemporary American society with it unchecked corporate greed and the ability of corporations to control the political system and the media and thereby to stifle any possibility of dissent. The chapter on corporate control of the university system was particularly shocking. The dominance of corporate control of the political system, academia, and the media, is coupled with a society that has lost the ability to question and think, and is more than content to be spoon-fed the lying propaganda of the main-stream media. The public's sense of what is truly important for their welfare and the welfare of their fellows is effectively transposed by the main-stream media into a preoccupation with the outcome of American Idol, and other such earth-shattering events. America society has become, in Hedges' apt words, an 'Empire of Illusion', and the long-term consequences of this for ordinary Americans can only be disastrous.
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The author puts forth valuable information at the very tips of readers, enlightens them to look beyond the illusions of media as a whole, the book is well-written with different chapters on the very illusions of present day society. In regards to his assessment of University, have to agree with lecturers feeling the need to appear intelligent and jargon used.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid Commentary 29 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Chris Hedges had written a lucid commentary on the state of society as it is and perhaps more importantly, which way we are headed unless we all wake up and take part in society again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great coffee table read 21 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Arrived in great condition - made good points, didn't waffle on, liked the writing style - made for interesting debates with friends and family.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Chris Hedges is my spirit animal!
more great writing by Mr Hedges, gritty, a bit depressing but essential reading none the less. you can find more of his writing on truthdig.com
Published 8 months ago by wickedorwhat
4.0 out of 5 stars Critical thinking
I bought this on the recommendation of a colleague when I was decrying the lack of critical analysis on TV and in the press. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Deb
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read
Articulate and concise,chris hedges has a wealth of experience and tells it like it really is.mine eyes were already open but chris hedges continues to expand my field of vision. Read more
Published 9 months ago by abcwarrior01
4.0 out of 5 stars Will read again
I've been a fan of Hedges for a few years now but this is the first book of his I've bought. The concepts and annecdotes in it are spot on and the picture he paints of an empire in... Read more
Published 23 months ago by el-fish
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth, at last!
A shocking, but unsurprising read for those of us still capable of independent thought. Interesting that AmazonUK is the only place I could obtain it. Read more
Published on 20 Feb 2012 by Lin
5.0 out of 5 stars Empire Strikes Back!
Another engaging and eye opening account of life and politics in the United States of America. Sadly it appears nothing is going to change anytime soon. Read more
Published on 8 Feb 2012 by S. L. Naish
2.0 out of 5 stars What a letdown...
I share many of the author's concerns but I feel they are unconvincingly argued in this book. This book quickly becomes repetitive. Read more
Published on 19 July 2011 by Charon Nix
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