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DJ Quimby "k1gali" (Birmingham, England)

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Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy
Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy
by Noam Chomsky
Edition: Hardcover

79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, 29 July 2006
When trying to sum up 'Failed States', as with other books by Noam Chomsky, the words that spring to mind are 'thought provoking'. In this latest work professor Chomsky argues that America, whilst commonly accusing other nations of being failed states, can be fairly judged to be a failed state itself, or at least share some of the qualities that define a failed state. He bases this argument on America's demonstrable inability or unwillingness to protect its citizens from violence and possible destruction and its tendency to consider itself beyond domestic and international law. He also argues that America suffers from a 'democratic deficit' which is another indicator of a failed state. Each of these arguments, along with others, are discussed in detail and presented with Chomsky's usual clarity.

My early fears that Failed States would contain little that hadn't already been discussed in the excellent Hegemony or Survival were proven false as the book went on to cover fresh ground, including 'just war theory', an up to date analysis of the invasion of Iraq and the present chaotic situation, and possible future developments in the middle east and south America. Chomsky does discuss certain principles which will be familiar to those who have read him before, and which are central to his, and surely any right thinking persons, beliefs such as the principle of universality. This is understandable as keeping such principles in mind is important when considering the issues which the book discusses.

Professor Chomsky polarizes opinion like few others and there is a tendency for people to either dismiss him and his views entirely or to consider his every word and opinion to be the unequivocal truth. Maintaining an open mind, a topic which the book made me think deeply about, is clearly essential when reading Failed States.

Whatever your own thoughts on the many weighty issues may be, the book will make you think and force you to ask questions. Most importantly for me, Failed States made me think about the primary motivations that determine how the world works, be it in business, international relations or even at the level of the individual. Understanding these motivations will go some way to explaining why those in power behave, and have always behaved, the way they do.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2009 9:31 AM GMT

The Cold War
The Cold War
by John Lewis Gaddis
Edition: Hardcover

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reagan the hero?......., 24 Mar 2006
This review is from: The Cold War (Hardcover)
In the books preface John Lewis Gaddis explains that The Cold War was written following requests by both his editor and his students for a short, comprehensive, and accessible book on the cold war, as an alternative to the authors more weighty efforts. He has succeeded in doing this, managing to restrict the book to only 266 pages whilst covering the entire span of the conflict, and this means of course that the book could only ever be a brief overview of the subject and is therefore only interesting as an introduction.
Whilst I enjoyed the book I couldnt help feeling that the author was more than a little one eyed when coming to many of his conclusions, and I do wonder about his seeming hero worship of Ronald Reagan. Was Reagan really, as Gaddis suggests, one of the most skilled politicians the US had had for many years, and one of its sharpest ever grand strategists? Was it really his great strength that he was possesed of an ability to see beyond complexity to simplicity? Im not so sure..
In short, worth a read as an introduction.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2013 7:42 AM BST

The Constant Gardener [DVD] [2005]
The Constant Gardener [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Ralph Fiennes
Price: 2.72

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clever adaptation of a wonderful book, 21 Mar 2006
Being a great admirer of John Le Carre's book I was particularly looking forward to this film although I feared that it may have been too complex a story to faithfully adapt to the big screen, as has been the problem with most previous Le Carre adaptations. I needn't of worried though as this is a marvellous, clever and moving film which remains faithful to the spirit and feel of Le Carre's brilliant book. The scriptwriters and director have done a great job with the adaptation and the performances are excellent throughout. The images of poverty in Africa are powerful and raw and live long in the memory. Having said that, and having given the film 5 stars, I still think the book tells a better story ( as is almost always the case ). There is greater depth both to many of the characters and to the story itself, and of course you have Le Carre's wonderful writing to revel in. Its still a 5 star film though and one of the cleverest book adaptations that Ive seen.
Le Carre makes an interesting comment in his authors note at the end of the book when he tells us that whilst researching the pharma industry he came to realise that in comparison with the reality his story is as tame as a holiday postcard...

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