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War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death Hardcover – 19 Jun 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (19 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471694797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471694793
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 2.8 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,336,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Media critic Solomon ( Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn′t Tell You) looks at the pro–war propaganda generated by the U.S. government during military interventions, emphasizing the influence of the media upon public opinion. He begins in 1965, when President Johnson crafted public messages as he sent troops to the Dominican Republic. Solomon claims that LBJ′s handling of this invasion established the prototype for a media agenda employed by subsequent presidents to create public approval for their actions. He finds several formulaic messages that help persuade the public to support military intervention. These include portraying America as a fair and noble superpower, whose honest leaders work hard to avoid war, and the enemy leader as an aggressive, Hitler–like violator of human rights who will do much harm unless the United States intervenes. Solomon′s timely analysis, which continues through the current war in Iraq, provides the public, analysts, and journalists with useful tips on how to evaluate the prewar messages of any administration, current or historical. Of interest to both public and academic libraries.–Judy Solberg, George Washington Univ. Libs., Washington, DC ( Library Journal, July 15, 2005)

"An engaging book that helps explain how the myth–making machine works." (The Texas Observer, July 8, 2005)

"Brutally persuasive...a must–read for those who would like greater context with their bitter morning coffee, or to arm themselves for the debates about Iraq that are still to come." (Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2005)

"An engaging book that helps explain how the myth–making machine works." ( The Texas Observer, July 8, 2005)

"Brutally persuasive...a must–read for those who would like greater context with their bitter morning coffee, or to arm themselves for the debates about Iraq that are still to come." (Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2005)


"Norman Solomon is one of the bravest and best American journalists, especially when he is dissecting the topics of war and the media. War Made Easy exposes and explains the lies and deceptions that have misled our nation into vile and bloody disasters from Vietnam to El Salvador to Iraq; it reveals the frequent cowardice and culpability of the US media that often behaves as a propaganda arm of the Pentagon. War Made Easy is a sobering and essential book that Americans should read, share, and discuss."
John Stauber, co–author of Weapons of Mass Deception and Banana Republicans

"If you don′t have fun reading Norman Solomon′s War Made Easy, you don′t know how to have a good time. This exceptional book will drive our bonkers leaders and their mouthpieces in the US press crazier than they are already. Read one passage each night to your children to protect them from the brain–snatchers and dummy–fication zombies of America′s news media of the living dead."
Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

"If you want to help prevent another war (Iran? Syria?), read War Made Easy now. This is a stop–the–presses book filled with mind–blowing facts about Washington¹s warmongers who keep the Pentagon budget rising. It would be funny if people weren′t dying. War Made Easy exposes the grisly game and offers the information we need to stop it."
Jim Hightower, author of Let s Stop Beating Around the Bush.

"America′s mainstream media didn′t launch the war on Iraq, but the Bush administration sure couldn′t have waged it without them. The great lesson of War Made Easy is that, alas, such journalistic malfeasance is nothing new; our media have a history of enabling Washington′s foreign misadventures. Perhaps if enough people read––and act on––this book, it won′t be so easy next time."
Mark Hertsgaard, journalist and author of On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency.

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Format: Hardcover
Norman Solomon is demonstrating that since World War II the US have systematically used war to defend their own interest and nothing else. So democracy and freedom is a lure for the public to fall into the trap of supporting the wars the President and a small group of people decide. He then demonstrates that all these wars are based on a fundamental and founding lie. Vietnam was based on the lie about the attack of some US battleship by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin just as much as the war on Iraq is based on the lie about the Weapons of Mass Destruction. Then he demonstrates how the press is literally forced into supporting the war though apparently very few are willing not to support it and the vast majority of media people are willing to support these adventures or ventures. But he also demonstrates that only two senators voted against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964 and only one congresswoman from California voted against the war on Iraq. He demonstrated how civilian casualties are increasingly the only casualties that count as for numbers. From 10% during the first world war they have risen to at least 90% in the war on Iraq. The present count of civilian casualties in Iraq are beyond one million. Then I will quote Senator Morse who voted in 1964 against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: "Since when do we have to back our President or should we when the President is proposing an unconstitutional action?" That is clear enough. Democracy does not mean to support the President but to take part in the devising of the US foreign policy itself on the basis of all facts provided to people for them to make up their minds. I will then conclude with Norman Solomon: "When it comes to life and death the truth comes back too late.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's well written and has lots of detail about what original sources said or admitted, and the role of the press is constantly examined, particularly it's role in creating the climate of opinion plus commentary/editorials. There are some very good insights: e.g. to be questioning an official narrative is to be automatically biased or anti- country X or Y, rather than trying to delve into the issues. Also, the options are limited in scope ommitting those that might seek proper negotiation and peace, so the choices aren't a genuine wide specrtrum.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 38 reviews
95 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing but the Truth 6 July 2005
By Author Author - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Over the years, Norman Solomon has distinguished himself as one of the pre-eminent analysts of the American media and political "culture." An everyman's scholar whose knowledge derives from both exhaustive research and first-hand experience, his insights are always cogent and honest. In "War Made Easy," Solomon dissects the time-proven slogans and propaganda techniques that have been used by Administration after Administration to--in effect--motivate the American people against themselves and their own best interests--not to mention those of citizens in many other nations. And Solomon "calls out" president after president for their "dupes" and backs up his castigations with cold, hard history. His analysis of the conjunction/collusion of the media and the body politic in this process is especially enlightening...and frightening. In short, this is a book that every American who cares about kin and country should read; and every citizen who sees beyond our borders simply must. At times scathing but never preachy, "War Made Easy" is a set of tough truths for tough times. And better still, it is written for us all: One doesn't need a master's degree in politics to understand Solomon's words. A fine book by a fine human being.
56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing 5 Aug. 2005
By David C N Swanson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book opens with a disturbing prologue. The U.S. media has refused to give serious coverage to the Downing Street Memos on the grounds that they are "old news." In the initial pages of his book, and supplemented by the rest, Solomon makes a case that both outdoes and undoes that claim.

Solomon outdoes the "old news" claim by providing evidence that the Bush Administration's campaign to take the country to war in Iraq on the basis of lies was remarkably similar to President Lyndon Johnson's use of the media when he wanted to attack the Dominican Republic and Reagan's when he was inclined to invade Grenada, not to mention Bush the First's when Panama was his chosen victim. In fact, Solomon draws disturbing parallels to Johnson and Nixon's lies about Vietnam, Reagan's about Libya and Lebanon, Bush the First's about the First Gulf War and about Haiti, Clinton's about Haiti, Yugoslavia, the Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, and Bush Jr.'s all too recent lies about Afghanistan. There just doesn't seem to be anything new about a president taking this country to war on the basis of laughably bad lies that anyone who was paying attention never fell for.

Solomon undoes the "old news" claim by documenting how hard the media has always made it for people to be paying proper attention. Not only are the Downing Street Memos not old news to most American media consumers, who've never been told what's in them, but the facts about many past wars are still not known to much of the country. The Washington Post has never apologized for or retracted the Jessica Lynch fictionalization, but that itself is nothing new. Solomon writes:

"In July 1998 I asked a number of Washington Post staffers whether the newspaper ever retracted its Gulf of Tonkin reporting. Finally, the trail led to someone with a definitive answer. 'I can assure you that there was never any retraction,' said Murrey Marder, a reporter who wrote much of the Washington Post's political coverage of Tonkin Gulf events in August 1964. He added: 'If you were making a retraction, you'd have to make a retraction of virtually everyone's entire coverage of the Vietnam War.'"

The Washington Post further distinguishes itself in Solomon's account of past media coverage of wars with this opinion it published when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the Vietnam War:

"King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

Damn liberal media!

Of course, many of the facts that Solomon employs in his critique of the media's role as megaphone for presidential warmongering falsehoods come from the media. But they come from passing stories in lower paragraphs on back pages, not from endlessly repeated headlines and sound bites. Solomon does not present a lot of new information in his book, but by gathering together key facts from extensive research he performs the reporting that he criticizes the media for failing to have done.

A good analogy for much of the U.S. media's coverage of war, I think, is the coverage Samuel Eliot Morison, the Harvard historian, gave to Columbus in a text book critiqued by Howard Zinn in the opening pages of "A People's History of the United States." Zinn writes:

"One can lie outright about the past. Or one can omit facts which might lead to unacceptable conclusions. Morison does neither. He refuses to lie about Columbus. He does not omit the story of mass murder; indeed he describes it with the harshest word one can use: genocide.

"But he does something else - he mentions the truth quickly and goes on to other things more important to him. Outright lying or quiet omission takes the risk of discovery which, when made, might arouse the reader to rebel against the writer. To state the facts, however, and then to bury them in a mass of other information is to say to the reader with a certain infectious calm: yes, mass murder took place, but it's not that important - it should way very little in our final judgments; it should affect very little what we do in the world....

"To emphasize the heroism of Columbus and his successors as navigators and discoverers, and to deemphasize their genocide, is not a technical necessity but an ideological choice."

Of course, there's plenty of lying outright in the US media's coverage of wars, but there's a lot more Morisonizing.

Solomon's book is not a chronology and does not have any plot that progresses from event to event. Nor is it organized in a predictable manner around an argument. In fact, it reads a little like a book written by someone who's used to writing 700-word columns. But that is, of course, something that Solomon does with a brilliance that is seldom surpassed. And, while there is something I prefer about his columns, this book doesn't fall far short of brilliant itself.

It's organized by a series of statements often made by our media pundits. These serve as chapter headings. If they strike you as false and damaging, this book will provide you with the ammunition to refute them. In that way, this is a resource book that can be regularly consulted. If any of the statements strike you as true, then you really must read this book. Here's a sampling from just the first five chapters:

1. America is a Fair and Noble Superpower

2. Our Leaders Will Do Everything They Can to Avoid War

3. Our Leaders Would Never Tell Us Outright Lies

4. This Guy Is a Modern-Day Hitler

5. This is About Human Rights
73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Collective Conscience 23 Jun. 2005
By Bonnie Phillips - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The media must take a longer and more informed look at itself. We the reader need to do the same. The facts are clearly presented and documented/verified. Solomon has provided us with facts; can we conscientiously make use of them? "War Made Easy" and many other volumes and articles which are noted in the book supply us with the information we need to become fair and objective about what is printed for others to read. The text opens us to an awareness that helps to serve the objectivity which is required from all, in all walks of life, given the disastrous situations which exist today. I encourage others to read this book and put our understanding to work in whatever field of activity we find ourselves. Norman Solomon's closing insight about conscience, yours and mine, needs to become a collective conscience.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Regardless of your political affiliation--read this book! 28 Oct. 2005
By T. Patterson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Two quotes near the end of Norman Solomon's book, War Made Easy, explain well the situation the United States currently finds itself in. The first is by Voltaire, and reads: "Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit atrocities." The second, by infamous Nazi field marshal, Hermann Goering, reads: "...the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." The content of this exceptional book exposes both presidents and media outlets as having a virtually incestuous relationship in perpetrating the incarnation of these two quotes. Solomon lets no one off the hook--not either political party, not so-called "liberal media," not the US American public. If, by the title, you are tempted to think this is a book written in blind rage against the current administration, you would be incorrect. Though Solomon is clearly not a fan of the current president, he shows in a very sober way the historical continuity between President Bush's practices, and those of previous presidents. Additionally, he documents clearly the striking similarities between media coverage of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and those of Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Gulf War, and others. What makes this book somewhat unique, is that each chapter deals with a truism or myth that is pulled out of a virtual propaganda toolbox, used by the White House and amplified by the media, that creates a palatable picture of war, and why the U.S. must "stay the course." You will immediately recognize the title of every chapter, and I believe you will be impressed by how Solomon critiques each one. The only thing that pains me about this book is that there may be some who won't bother reading it. That would be a real tragedy.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read 26 July 2005
By Bill Thomson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Norman Soloman has made spent his career analyzing the media, and how the media frequently misrepresents facts and fails to report on important stories. In War Made Easy, he turns his attention to the War on Terror, and fully dissects current US policies. He conclusively demonstrates how the government spin has been the key to enabling our leaders to sell us a never-ending war and how they have used this to boost their popularity. The media has played along, I hope the sales of this book will be large enough to open many eyes around America.
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