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Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society Paperback – 15 Jun 2006

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Paperback, 15 Jun 2006
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Product details

  • Paperback: 628 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers; 4 edition (15 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560009543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560009542
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,583,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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A horribly funny book...to be kept close at hand and reread whenever we are told of a land where power is wielded in a new way, where the human soul is re-engineered and human nature uplifted. -- Richard Grenier, The New Republic The Washington Post Stunning reading...a long overdue cautionary tale warning Western intellectuals against a systematic denigration of their own societies to the advantage of others, secretive and remote, about which they know next to nothing, but which they nonethelessvenerate as shining triumphs of the human spirit...Professor Hollander has not merely written an excellent book. He has rendered a service to the Republic. -- Richard Grenier, The New Republic Stunning reading...a long overdue cautionary tale warning Western intellectuals against a systematic denigration of their own societies to the advantage of others, secretive and remote, about which they know next to nothing, but which they nonetheless venerate as shining triumphs of the human spirit...Professor Hollander has not merely written an excellent book. He has rendered a service to the Republic. -- Richard Grenier, The New Republic A horribly funny book...to be kept close at hand and reread whenever we are told of a land where power is wielded in a new way, where the human soul is re-engineered and human nature uplifted. -- Richard Grenier, The New Republic The Washington Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Feb. 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book on a suggestion from an Economics professor at George Masoh University. I was doing some research about some American views of the Soviet Union while Stalin was murdering his people and my professor enlightened me towards this incredible read. It was indeed a hard book to come across, mine was the only school in the entire Metropolitan DC area to hold this. So, I considered myself lucky. And after reading with passion every single word, I now consider myself educated. For those who are fans of George Bernard Shaw, read this at your own peril. While Mr. Shaw was bordering a train heading into the Soviet Union, he threw all his food on the roadside in Poland, in belief that food in the USSR was readily available. Indeed, it was for him and the other Americans the Russians wanted to use to spread their Communist propaganda, but little did these utopian-minded citizens know, millions upon millions were being murdered right under their noses in this great utopia. Of course murder didn't stop these peaceful leftists from looking at the grim realities of life under socialism. They still found ways in which to exalt the virtues of government planned society. After the guilt overcame them in regards to the murders of Stalin, they took to Cuba. Unfortunately for them, same game plan under Castro, same result, millions of innocents dead. Realizing Cuba was not the great utopia, these American leftists took to China and Mao. AHHHH? If only these people would live the "true" socialist way. If only socialism was allowed to flourish in its true nature, with peace and love for everyone. A few peiple get murdered along the way? Its too bad but the good of the nation is more important. Hollander outlines this perfectly. Three cheers for him and for the people who have the guts to read this wonderful book.
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4 of 23 people found the following review helpful By panickyfright@clara.co.uk on 10 May 2001
Format: Paperback
Hollander's book is very famous within academic circles and is assured of classic status - largely, I assume, because no-one else ever wrote a book on the subject. If only they had! The subject of 'Political Pilgrims' is indeed fascinating and the book has value for it's wealth of good anecdote (hence deserving one star). However, Hollander's critique is so one-sided and devoid of insight that the many, many pages of argument shouldering these anecdotes become a painful struggle of repetitive prose and simple-mindedness. When he moves on from the Soviet Union to more recent travels to communist states he becomes simply inaccurate - his notorious attack on Ben Kiernan as a denier of genocide in Cambodia, for example. (Ben Kiernan is author of 'The Pol Pot Regime' - a book that is very far from holocaust denial). In all his tiresome travails Hollander never makes any attempt to actually understand, rather than simply insult, the people he writes about. He denounces and ridicules his characters' support of left-wing states without ever questioning why they disliked his own so much - (he is, very obviously, an American). The end result is rather like reading the rantings of an armchair traveller, envious of others' travels and hating them for it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Peace, peace, when there is no peace. 24 Jun. 2001
By David Marshall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Political Pilgrims is the amazing story of how Western intellectuals embraced Marxist tyrants at the very moment their colleagues were rotting in prison cells, and the common people everyone claimed to be concerned for, were starving. The book relates how cultural and religious leaders from the West, including familiar names, visited the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and other communist countries, and told the most appalling lies to flatter their hosts and express their contempt for Western society. It is quite an education, as another reviewer put it. Marx's revolutionary myth dominated history for the better part of the 20th Century, and if we are serious about not repeating the errors of that period, this book should be a part of our education. The short story Buddha's Smile in Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece, The First Circle, brilliantly tells the same story, from the point of view of Soviet prisoners. Lewis Feuer's Marx and the Intellectuals compares Marx and Engels themselves with the kind of people Hollander is describing. I also recommend the writings of the Rumanian philosopher, pastor, and former prisoner, Richard Wurmbrand.
Hollander retells George Keenan's story of a Norwegian radical who, when asked what country he most admired, said, "Albania." Keenan noted that the student obviously knew nothing of Albania, but chose that country "simply because it seems to be a club with a particularly sharp nail at the end of it with which to beat one's own society."
The same reactionary psychology has, it seems to me, been transferred in our day to an uncritical and naive attraction towards what is (simplistically) called "eastern religion." One could write an even longer book about how Westerners project their fantasies on monist ideologies: people like Joseph Campbell and Karen Armstrong "explaining" human sacrifice, the Theosophical Society standing up for caste, Arthur C. Clarke (Did he know much more of Asian history than the Albanian radical knew of Albania?) describing Buddhism as "the only faith that never became stained with blood." Even Hollander allowed that, "While the suspension of disbelief has its place in human life, it belongs more to the religious (or asthetic) than the political realm." But his book should be read, in my opinion, as a warning against all forms of ideological naivite. A love of truth, and a determination to tell it no matter how out of fashion it may seem, is essential to integrity in all walks of life. Political Pilgrims vividly illustrates, in the political realm, the evil that can be done when honesty plays second fiddle to fashion.....
49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Everything you'll need to know about leftist hypocrites 23 Feb. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this book on a suggestion from an Economics professor at George Masoh University. I was doing some research about some American views of the Soviet Union while Stalin was murdering his people and my professor enlightened me towards this incredible read. It was indeed a hard book to come across, mine was the only school in the entire Metropolitan DC area to hold this. So, I considered myself lucky. And after reading with passion every single word, I now consider myself educated. For those who are fans of George Bernard Shaw, read this at your own peril. While Mr. Shaw was bordering a train heading into the Soviet Union, he threw all his food on the roadside in Poland, in belief that food in the USSR was readily available. Indeed, it was for him and the other Americans the Russians wanted to use to spread their Communist propaganda, but little did these utopian-minded citizens know, millions upon millions were being murdered right under their noses in this great utopia. Of course murder didn't stop these peaceful leftists from looking at the grim realities of life under socialism. They still found ways in which to exalt the virtues of government planned society. After the guilt overcame them in regards to the murders of Stalin, they took to Cuba. Unfortunately for them, same game plan under Castro, same result, millions of innocents dead. Realizing Cuba was not the great utopia, these American leftists took to China and Mao. AHHHH? If only these people would live the "true" socialist way. If only socialism was allowed to flourish in its true nature, with peace and love for everyone. A few peiple get murdered along the way? Its too bad but the good of the nation is more important. Hollander outlines this perfectly. Three cheers for him and for the people who have the guts to read this wonderful book.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Excellent diagnosis of campus nonsense 2 May 2000
By Aristotle's Beast - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Paul Hollander is one of our best critics of the kind of foolishness that motivates intellectuals today and has done so for centuries. This book is well worth reading. It demonstrates most amply Hollander's contention that intellectuals are not characterized solely by their critical abilities and habits. Rather, as Hollander points out time and again, they are also characterized by their opportunistic use of these abilities, and by their incredible credulity. Sartre is only one case in point: his fabulous skepticism is employed to prevent himself from coming face to face with the fact that Stalin was a monster and that Marxism could neither save a nation nor prevent mass murder. Our hyper-politicized faculty on Kampus today employ the same kinds of denial and opportunistic critique to save thier silly beliefs in the beneficence of multiculturalism, in the existence of patriarchy and in the explanatory power of cultural critique. Hollander's book is a must read for anyone who needs distance from the nonsense of our postmodernists, deconstructionists and other allegedly radical dogmas of the aging flower children. All of them practice selective attention to their critical principles, scepticism for their enemies, and utter credultiy for their pals.
52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Left-Wing Hypocrisy Exposed Brilliantly and Humorously! 21 July 2000
By Kathleen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this fascinating book, Paul Hollander exposes the self deception of 19th and 20th century intellectuals. In their search for the perfect society, they wander from Revolutionary Russia to modern-day Cuba.
In spite of massive evidence of human rights abuse, including genocide, false imprisonments, and confiscation of private property, the political pilgrims never waver in their loyalty to failed, left-wing ideals. They journey onward after each "socialist" failure, with the fervor of religious converts.
This book is meticulously documented and easy to read. Highly recommended.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Reality versus Romaticism 4 April 2008
By D. W. MacKenzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hollander hits an important nail on its head. Many members of the intellectual left have a horrible track record of either excusing or turning a blind eye to the brutality of socialist dictators. As such, many twentieth century leftists served as apologists for evil socialist dictators. Of course, these same people have no difficulty finding fault with the US and UK. No problem in the West is too small to warrant condemnation in their eyes.

The sad truth is that the vision of an egalitarian society has been romanticized and popularized. Even today there are some who defend and even promote the USSR. Hollander counters this nonsense with evidence. Unfortunately, there are still some ideologues to whom evidence means nothing. We need more scholars like Hollander.
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