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Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to be So Hated, Causes of Conflict in the Last Empire [Paperback]

Gore Vidal
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Nov 2002
The United States has been engaged in what the great historian Charles A. Beard called "perpetual war for perpetual peace." The Federation of American Scientists has cataloged nearly 200 military incursions since 1945 in which the United States has been the aggressor. In a series of penetrating and alarming essays, whose centerpiece is a commentary on the events of September 11, 2001 (deemed too controversial to publish in this country until now) Gore Vidal challenges the comforting consensus following September 11th and goes back and draws connections to Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. He asks were these simply the acts of "evil-doers?" "Gore Vidal is the master essayist of our age." -- Washington Post "Our greatest living man of letters."--Boston Globe "Vidal's imagination of American politics is so powerful as to compel awe."--Harold Bloom, The New York Review of Books

Frequently Bought Together

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to be So Hated, Causes of Conflict in the Last Empire + Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta + The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001
Price For All Three: 31.21

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Clairview Books (5 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902636384
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902636382
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

‘A figure whose vibrant verbal presence has itself been an essential of American cultural life for the past fifty-odd years.’ -- The Times Literary Supplement

‘Gore Vidal is the most elegant, erudite and eclectic writer of his generation.’ -- The Guardian

‘The master essayist of our age.’ -- Washington Post

‘There is no one quite like him, and if you do not know his work you should.’ -- The Times

‘Vidal’s combination of learning, wit and disdain gets into your blood. He can change the way you think.’ -- The Observer

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Muslim tradition has it that it was a Tuesday when Allah created darkness. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another masterpiece by Gore Vidal 10 Jan 2004
Format:Paperback
PERPETUAL WAR FOR PERPETUAL PEACE is a collection of essays by Gore Vidal, who has been referred to as the master essayist of the century. In these essays Vidal explains why the United States has become so hated. Vidal also explains why the United States government has become hated by many of its own citizens.
Given the heinous reality of the crime committed by McVeigh, it is tempting to believe that Gore Vidal is excusing the murder of innocent Oklahoma citizens. But that is not the case. Vidal readily agrees that the killing of innocent people is wrong, and then proceeds to explain how the United States government - which he refers to as the greatest terrorist organization in the world - has set the precedent by killing many innocent people abroad (chapter one concludes with a 20 page list of the wars the United States has been engaged in - some still ongoing - over the past 50 years, noting that in most cases we struck the first blow), and many innocent people within its own borders, examples being Waco, Ruby Ridge, and even in Washington state (in each situation those killed had committed no crime).
Gore claims that the important piece to the McVeigh story is that the attack was a *retaliation* against the US government for its constant harassment - and in some cases murder of - its own citizens. The author states that the mainstream media portrayed McVeigh as having evolved in a vacuum, that he was irrational evil incarnate who killed only for the fun of it. To the contrary, the author argues that McVeigh, as well as the 9/11 terrorists, were provoked. Vidal, who opposes the death penalty, strongly agrees that two wrongs do not make a right, but nor does a third: McVeigh was put to death for his crime.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breathtaking perspective on now 3 Dec 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Vidal is one of the last independent thinkers, and this book is pure gold for anyone trying to see through the propoganda and simplistic presentations of modern media. What's more, he is a witty and stylish writer; in other words he educates you while offering a pleasurable read. Vidal's analysis of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber, is quite simply breathtaking. We are presented with a multi-layered perspective of wise insight. The message is clear: let's get beyond the 'good'/'evil' black and white 'thinking' of our dumbed-down mass-culture. Miss this one at your peril!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning 29 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback
Vidal's 'The Last Empire', which includes most of the essays in 'Perpetual War...' and 'Dreaming War...' is a much better value for your money.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly unsatisfying, but a timely book 8 Jan 2003
Format:Paperback
Gore Vidal is an important critic of modern American politics and foreign policy. As corporate America (and Britain) increasingly attempt to stifle democracy and as the military-industrial complex pursues war in furtherance of its own interests rather than those of the people, Vidal is one of the few writers providing a point of resistance. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace is a timely and necessary contribution.
The book is a collection of various pieces: some articles that were published in Vanity Fair, a summary of American military operations, a few letters and some new material which attempts to link it all together. Without fail each piece is interesting, though combined they fall some way short of fulfilling the book's subtitle: How We Got To Be So Hated - Causes Of Conflict In The Last Empire. Overall the volume is quite brief and, while the argument is consistently engaging and stimulating, those hoping for a rigorous analysis and critique of American policy will be disappointed. Even if the several essays are little more than polemical starting points, it is nevertheless useful to have them brought together in a single accessible volume.
Vidal focuses predominantly on three things in the book: September 11, the Oklahoma City bombing, and American military operations. Of these, the weakest area is that concerning September 11: one short essay that attempts to cover too much ground and which appears to have been tacked on to the book to update its relevance. (Incidentally, the essay is substantially different from Vidal's subsequent 'conspiracy theory' piece on September 11.) The material on American military operations is meatier, backed up as it is with several pages outlining all post-WW2 American military ventures.
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