Chris Hedges: Empire of Illusion

The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle    

Nation Books, 2009     Amazon.com

2009 Blurb:

Empire of IllusionWe now live in two Americas. One – now the minority – functions in a print-based, literate world that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other – the majority – is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. To this majority – which crosses social class lines, though the poor are overwhelmingly affected – presidential debate and political rhetoric is pitched at a sixth-grade reading level. In this “other America,” serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins of society.

In the tradition of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges navigates this culture – attending WWF contests, the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas, and Ivy League graduation ceremonies – to expose an age of terrifying decline and heightened self-delusion.

2010 Blurb:

In this New York Times bestseller, Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Chris Hedges has written a shattering meditation on American obsession with celebrity and the epidemic of illiteracy that threatens our cultural integrity. Reporting on such phenomena as professional wrestling, the pornographic film industry, and unchecked casino capitalism, Hedges exposes the mechanisms used to divert us from confronting the economic, political, and moral collapse around us. Empire of Illusion shows us how illiteracy and the embrace of fantasy have impoverished our working class, allowed for the continuance of destructive public policy, and ushered in cultural bankruptcy.
Reviews:
“Remarkable, bracing and highly moral, Empire of Illusion is Hedges’ lament for his nation.”  Maclean’s

“Each chapter of Empire of Illusion makes a strong case for how different illusions – of literacy, love, wisdom, happiness — taken together are destroying the American mind, culture and the nation itself.”   National Post

“Each chapter torches one of our cultural illusions.”  The Globe and Mail“Hedges is a fan of big ideas, and in Empire of Illusion, he draws upon the culture of professional wrestling and pornography, the elite university, positive psychology and the financial crisis to fashion a social theory of everything.”  Winnipeg Free Press
About the Author:
Chris Hedges, the author of the bestselling War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, and writes for many publications including Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, Granta and Mother Jones. He is also a columnist for Truthdig.com.
JOB’s Comment:
Important writer of the left.

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All original writing © Jan Olof Bengtsson
"A Self-realized being cannot help benefiting the world. His very existence is the highest good."
Ramana Maharshi