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on 7 May 2003
Naomi Klein illustrates quite elequently why people are protesting. She has gone to great leangths in talking to people and figuring out why people and the general public are beginning to fight 'the system' and start demonstrating for their freedoms.
The book doesn't greatly change my somewhat dark opinion of politics but instead it adds some substance and fact. Some of the dispatches she has written almost always raise eyebrows but at the same time I can't help thinking that sometimes there is a tinge of deep routed antagonism to someone. Although in one way thats normal, it gives me a gut feeling about quite how objective she may have been in her analysis.
That said it is something that will stay on my bookshelf as is it's an excellent read. It will open your eyes to the greed that is so glaringly behind the scenes of some very famous and internationally relevant politics and corporate thinking.
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on 17 February 2004
There's a distinctly disjointed feel to 'Fences and Windows', Naomi Klein's update on globalisation after her bestseller 'No Logo' of a few years ago. It's made up of various articles she wrote between 2000 and 2002, many of which seem to have been published before (several in the Canadian newspaper 'The Globe and Mail'). Such journalistic writing is fine for a newspaper that readers will discard the next day, but it lacks the substance required of a book. The particular problem is length - most of the chapters are no more than half a dozen pages long, so of course there isn't enough space in which to develop much of an argument, or even look at the topics in much depth. She's also not saying anything stunningly new (except in the final section), which makes for a frustrating read.
She begins by detailing the major anti-globalisation protests, such as Washington DC (2000), then moves on to how 'free trade' (which she very correctly points out isn't actually 'free' at all) and the global market are 'dismantling democracy'. This is definitely the weakest part of the book; there's a strong argument to be made here, but the disparate articles don't make the necessary links to have any force. Next she deals with 'criminalising dissent' - how protestors are mistreated and misrepresented by the authorities. Again, more structure here would help, but it's still a useful way to learn of specific examples.
The fourth section, 'Capitalising on Terror' does much as the title suggests, reasonably efficiently, but it's the fifth and final one that makes this book worth reading. It's rather a cliché for books of this sort to end with how the protestors want to build a better world, but Klein takes a tangent to this issue with great effect. She examines the methods used by protest groups, and assesses their effectiveness with the sort of insightful critique only someone who's part of the movement could provide. Her article on Subcommandante Marcos and the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico is fantastic and alone justifies buying this book. (That it's the longest in the book, at a whole 16 pages, is significant - it was also originally in 'The Guardian' on 3rd March 2001, if you want to search the archives for it instead!).
I'm studying globalisation, and even allowing for the fact that Klein isn't an academic author, her lack of citation of other authors and other people's ideas is distinctly frustrating. The index is comprehensive and useful, but there are no endnotes and meagre credits. Unfortunately this isn't a book that leads you on to further exploration. If you haven't read 'No Logo', do so now and ignore this. 'Fences and Windows' is only worth buying if you're a bit of a fan of the author, or are some anti-globalisation popular lit. completist... Borrow this from the library if you must; don't buy. Get the 'Rebellion in Chiapas' article elsewhere, and do something better with your time.
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on 16 November 2014
What a stunning book! Filled with hope as well as appropriate cynicisms. A must read for all who have an ounce of critical framework left. Naomi Klein is an inspiration.
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on 3 July 2008
This book contains superb comments on strategies, policies and mass demonstrations against the actual way of the world. It poses the right questions (who holds power? who exercises it? who disguises it?) and the right answers (people before profits).

The way of the world
For Naomi Klein, the world is dominated by transnational corporations and investors, who control governments. These governments respond to the needs of the former, not of the people who elected them: affordable housing, medicines, clean water, clean land, basic food, education, sustainable energy sources and independent scientific research.
As someone in Prague said, `communism and capitalism have something in common. They both centralize power in the hands of a few.' Globalization and free trade are corporate-driven. The wealth liberated by them is stuck at the top. For the rest, there is wage stagnation, erosion of basic services, of freedom and civil liberties.

Resistance to biased free trade and its globalization should not occur within a big unified movement, a coordinated centralization, because it would in the shortest of time being `incorporated by special interests'. Small units of activists, independent groups should focus on simple, crucial issues. Only those can be effective.

The policies should focus on the application of universal human rights, real democracy, labor and ecological rights and records, civil liberties, freedom of speech (internet) and independent research (e.g., Frankenstein food).
The IMF(ired) and the World Bank should fiercely be attacked or their doctrine, which takes power away from communities, give it to a central government, who gives it to the corporations through privatization (V.Shiva).
Another target should be the WTO, which dead seriously makes trade-related intellectual property rights its focus point in the face of billions of hungry people.

This extremely hard-hitting book (`for Kamikaze Capitalists, terrorism is just another opportunity to leverage') is a must read for all those wanting to save the planet and mankind.
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on 10 August 2003
This was nice follow up to the much talked about No Logo. I enjoyed the read, but it left me with much less than the predecessor did. Although this is an interesting look at the globalisation movement, and possibly a good introduction to it for people who have read No Logo (which was missing a lot of exploration in that area.) I felt slightly underwhelmed by it all. It also didn't give me much hope at the movement until towards the end.
Klein is a great jornalist, and what she lacks in academic writing, she makes up for in passion. I would be reading her writings in the Globe and Mail if I lived in Canada, and she's a great wake up call to new potential activists, but her lack of depth can be off putting for old hands, I'm sure.
However, the problem with politics is it's often unrelenting affect of induced boredom over the readers. Klein doesn't do that at all. For more of the style, with a bit more focus on middle class westerners, and the social effects of Branding, you could try Branded by Alicia Quart. That's probably a bit more relavant to youngsters who really feel like they are caught up in the whole thing. It's very difficult to break out of the branded boxes that teens sit in these days, but if anyone can inspire, Naomi can.
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on 20 March 2005
This is a collection of articles published in various journals over the last couple of years which succeeds in giving a sense of history-in-the-making, of a movement (albeit in a very loose sense of the word) finding its voice and occasionally being heard. The depiction of both the "broad brush" international trends- whether political or corporate- are succinctly done, and are very impressively and insightfully linked to the 'grass roots' situations and people 'on the ground' affected by such forces. That the voices of real people affected by the impact of such forces- both good, but more often bad- are so seldom heard or listened to in the mainstream media makes this collection feel important.
Klein's ability to present complex developments and arguments in a succinct way- many chapters are only four pages long- is impressive.
The author's previous book, the excellent No Logo, retains its important place in the canon of writing on anti-corporate globalisation, but Fences and Windows can sit proudly alongside.
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on 25 November 2002
Klein returns with a collection of short articles, speeches and columns from newspapers. This book is a handy follow up to No Logo. Rather than being a book of investigation like No Logo, this book instead tracks the post-Seattle developments and tackles issues on the more local scale as well as the big global issues. It is very readable, provocative, motivational and builds some very interesting themes (fences and windows).
This book is well worth a go if you liked Klein's previous works, don't expect another No Logo, this book has it's own merits for other reasons.
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