24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Compelling and insightful,
This review is from: States of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering (Paperback)
This is probably the most insightful and intelligent book I have ever read - I was looking for easy answers as to why, in this world of increased information and knowledge about other's suffering, we continue to accept it or deny it or ignore it. Professor Cohen does not give easy answers: he challenges you to both accept some bottom-line truths, but also not to be passive and separate from those who are suffering.
He is incredibly knowledgeable, but writes in an accessible style that draws you in - as if he is asking the same questions and providing an array of answers for you to consider. He talks to the reader as an equal, although he took me to places I had never thought through before.
He wrote the book in 2001, presumably before 9/11, the ensuing Afghan and Iraq Wars, and the culture of denial embodied by Bush and the NeoCons. No matter: Guantanomo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Ariel Sharon, Mordecai Vanunu, the rape of Falluja, et al are all here.
He does not turn his laser-vision on the governments' denial of our failing guardianship of the planet. No matter: drilling in Alaska, the oil wars, American and other developed countries' over-consumption of resources is all there. And our lack of acknowledgement.
He does not look at our denial of not only the inequalities of women in our societies, but of the repression, murder and rape of women. No matter : it is all there - denial at personal and individual level, at the social and political level, and at the universal level.
The book neither excuses us nor releases us from our responsibilities. In the end we all have to not only acknowledge the truth, not only see it, recognise it, acknowledge it - but also to act. Sometimes the only act open to us is to stand up and say that we know.
I write this just after the death of Andrea Dworkin. One who just stood up and stated the truth and was vilified and hated for it. Amnesty's prisoners of consciousness are often there because they refused to participate in denial. In even our "free" countries, death threats can easily ensue from pointing out truths from Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Holland to corporate whistle-blowers in the States, to CIA operatives exposing flaws in Pentagon double-think.
Professor Cohen has written a book that should be read by every activist, every politician, every intellectual, every thinker, every feminist, every environmentalist - he leaves us with no answers (or all answers) - only the responsibility to recognise, acknowledge and voice the truth.
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Initial post: 21 Feb 2010 10:59:04 GMT
It's amazing that Helen Armstrong seems to be the only person to have read Stan Cohen's book (other than the reviewers quoted by Amazon) !!
This is surely sufficient to prove the Professor's point alone. Having been a student of Dr. Cohen at Essex uni in the late 70's where he was very closely appreciated at a time when his academic production was peaking, I am really surprised that his many students have not risked supporting this book (which I have just ordered and look forward to studying). All that has been said in the reviews about Stan Cohen is accurate (he was a major influence on my life for the good and I thank my lucky stars I met him and that he took the trouble to "bring me along") He's a loving person !!! Tony M.
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