Book review of Noam Chomsky’s Failed States.
This is an extremely important book for the American people to read and understand. I fear that what this book describes will come to nothing because of a number of small little aspects that work together to thwart this important message from getting out and being fully appreciated by those who do read it. I think the author has done a disservice to this country because the message he conveys is on the one hand so extremely important but his writing style is not crafted to win the argument and also to be appreciated by the mass book market.
First, the book, in my opinion, is not written for the average American to read. This book, I felt, was written by an academic for academics. Said again, the writing style just made the read too much a chore. It seemed at times the author contradicted himself but if the reader paused and thought what the author was intending to convey, the wording eventually made sense but at the cost of achieving good reading speed. It was my evaluation of the writer’s intent that filled in the holes for me, but at the same time, I was never convinced that I got it correctly. The author needs a good strong editor to demand that the author explain more clearly his points and achieve a faster more clear writing style. An editor should hold the author accountable to the general reader tastes and not to some elite fringe group. I just wish I had have some magic determiner for better determining the importance of each apparent fact and each point. I felt that I was not up to speed for this book but should have done a lot more reading, more investigation, prior to picking up this book. I felt that I was not prepared to better understanding and arranging the huge snowstorm of information. The snow was falling quite fast at times. Being in the snowstorm I was at times lost as to which direction we were going and why.
Second, the author comes across with a less than balanced viewpoint and detecting this, I question even more each point he tried to make. The author definitely comes across as an opponent of the administration and not as an academic going over the facts in the case to share his findings.
Third, I kept asking myself, if this is true, how could we come this far and this deep without seeing we are doomed by our own actions and turn this process around? I am trying to say here in this point is that my gut feeling was not with this book, possibly because it is hard for me to accept that we have stepped backward from the intellect of our founding fathers, that we as humane beings have not improved much since our revolution. This is hard for me to accept, that we/I live in a failed state.
Fourth, the total number of points the author made was mind boggling which, to some extent worked against the author winning the author’s case. I had to put the book down just to have some time to reflect upon what I just read and thwart impending mental numbness. better organization of the points, I felt, should have been made. I felt this book was rushed to print.
Fifth, our own lives are pretty much untouched by what is written in the book. What is revealed in this book is external to our lives and thus not an immediate concern. We can easily turn our backs to this dire description and pretend it only affects and takes place in Washington DC. The book lacks, for me, the personal affect. When you get so rapped up in learning the parts of a gun and how that device comes apart you might not remember that its purpose is to kill.
Some more observations:
It did occur to me, just a suspicion, that there just might be some personal safety concern by the author in writing about the failure of a sitting administration. It is easy to remove some of the personal threat by writing to a smaller audience. The administration should feel less threatened and thus be less motivated to send in the dogs upon Chomsky. But for the reader, who picks up this book, the author does make a very strong case toward impeaching.
Reading this book gave me the distinct impression, not from anything directly written by the author but one of those unintended feelings a book sometimes gives the reader that some of the democratic institutions of this country have failed as a check to errant information, proposals and policies. In particular, I think the author should write his next book on the failure of the fourth estate as they relate to the points made in this book.
In summary, if every American were to read this book and understand what is being told, there is just a chance that we can throw the bums out and get back on track to the core values that this country stands for. But the American public just does not have the time to wade through this drudgery. I expect this voice, in the form of this book, will not be heard to any significance. I recommend a second edition, completely rewritten version, with a good strong editor in charge.
Finally, this book could easily serve as a checklist for a legal team to make sure they do not miss any significant bullet points for a war crimes trial.