I'll begin with a little true story. A very good friend of mine, best man at my wedding in fact, was working as a teacher in Lebanon a few years ago. He loved working there until the day he nearly died. That was when he almost became collateral damage, as it's quaintly known, when the block of flats he was living in was attacked by some, no doubt, highly sophisticated rocket fired from an Israeli helicopter. Apparently some wanted PLO man was supposed to be in the building and it was just tough luck that he happened to be around when the missile was launched.
Anyway he lived to tell the tale, but headed home in order to extend his life expectancy. Now it seems to me that this is what a lot of Fisk's magnum opus is all about. How innocent people are randomly slaughtered for no particular good reason at all and the problem is that the number of such people is vast. By dipping backwards and forwards over the last 150 years or so Fisk very convincingly makes the points that history repeats itself and then that few, if any lessons, seemed to have been learnt from the mistakes made in the past. His father is repeatedly used as a touchstone throughout the book,because he took part in the senseless mass slaughter of World War 1.
And so we come to today and strangely many of the really efficient mass killers over the last 50 years, who invade other countries and destroy homes and the means to live and maybe even steal the land too( and we all know who they are don't we ? ) are the GOOD GUYS !!! Well that's if you look at most newspapers or watch television.One thing that Fisk forces you to face up to is the fact that the, ahem, free world is, for the most part, shackled to a truly supine and mendacious media.
All I know is that if anyone can read this book and not feel shocked and deeply ashamed at the conduct of the supposedly great powers then he or she must possess a blunted moral sensibility. Going back to my bombed-out friend for a moment, you might be interested to know that his interview with either Sky or CNN or Fox etc,you know the plucky if not to say lucky western survivor was never aired. He was convinced this was because he refused to accept the line being fed to him that it must be truly scary living in Lebanon and instead replied that he loved being there, found the people delightful and was extremely angry to have enjoyed a near death experience courtesy of peace-loving Israel. As Fisk repeatedly says in his book, victims of such attacks wherever they take place are either, obviously terrorists or terrorist sympathisers or merely collateral damage. The fact that by far the greatest proportion of the victims in such attacks are totally innocent is conveniently passed over by the perpetrators, since they are, of course, peace loving democrats, who just happen to have sufficient armaments to destroy the world a few times over. Needless to say,this situation is diametrically reversed, when even one or two of the good guys die. These people have usually been killed by evil men etc etc and although we are god-fearing folk our revenge will be swift and terrible. It happens time and time again.
Yes the book is long, but Fisk is never less than highly literate and anyone who enjoys reading will fly through this book. It's not a tough read at all. It is however a devastating one and I would implore anyone with even an ounce of interest in the modern world to read this book. You will be rewarded many times over.