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The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

A chilling and eye-opening read

In this chilling history of deregulated capitalism gone wild, Naomi Klein shows how Milton Friedman and his followers have taken advantage of chaos--caused by coups d'etat, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters--to transform tragedies into lucrative profit ventures. ...
In this chilling history of deregulated capitalism gone wild, Naomi Klein shows how Milton Friedman and his followers have taken advantage of chaos--caused by coups d'etat, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters--to transform tragedies into lucrative profit ventures.

The strategy? When the population is in a state of shock and trauma, quickly push through your desired economic policies: privitization, deregulation, and cuts in government services. If some brutality is required along the way, so be it.

While this topic has been covered by others, Klein offers a detailed chronicle of "shock treatment" doled out by Friedman and his friends from the Chicago School of Economics (with help from the World Bank and the IMF) over the last several decades, beginning in the wake of Pinochet's bloody coup in Chile, then moving on to other South American countries, followed by countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In case after case, she offers a peek at the players behind the scenes and the heartbreaking human costs.

Klein gives nods to Keynesianism here and there (wish that would have been explored more), but her own orthodoxy does bleed through in parts, thus the deducted star. It's only a few pages before the end of the book that she briefly acknowledges, for instance, that pure socialism has also often been implemented and maintained using brual methods.

Still, it's a compelling book and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand more about the innerworkings of this ongoing phase of history.

posted by kimbakristin on September 21, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

One of the worst books on politics and economics I've ever read.

The book starts out with how the Katrina disaster represented the common saying "crisis brings about change" and how this change was introducing the concept of "charter school vouchers" to taxpaying citizens rather than forcing a public school system on them. First, it...
The book starts out with how the Katrina disaster represented the common saying "crisis brings about change" and how this change was introducing the concept of "charter school vouchers" to taxpaying citizens rather than forcing a public school system on them. First, it is common knowledge that crisis brings about change, which can be for both good (e.g., the American Revolution) and bad (e.g., the rise of Hitler). Contrary to the author's arguments, there is nothing inherently evil about this. Second, there is nothing inherently evil about the concept of private charter schools replacing public schools. As the US private university system is the admiration of the world, the US public secondary school system is generally viewed as weak and even corrupt, largely due to protected tenure granted by a teacher's union. Is it so bad to let secondary schools also compete? Lastly, the author should consider a course in basic economics. The Govt doesn't create value. High union teacher wages are paid by the people, not by Govt. Competition is, or at least should be, a part of life. Some social engineers like the author wish it was otherwise. Being a long time and avid reader of social, economic and political history, I'm truly perplexed as to why this book received such rave reviews. To me, it was painful reading by a naive author.

posted by Andre-D on May 9, 2009

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  • Posted July 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A lot of material

    I thought the book was very informative. The topic covered filled in a lot of blanks that I had in history. It completely explains why most of the world hates America and rest doesn't trust us. But that more than echos my personal opinions of corporate America. Pure greed, with the money squeezed from the lives of its workforce and customers. Hopefully more people will read this book and others like it. So if you are one of the 1% of Americans that own 95% of the wealth of this country, you probably wont like this book.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    Great Book

    This book was really great and in debth with detail. When buying this book another book "Life After Foreclosure" by Dean Wegner came up and together I feel both books have taught me so much about the nation we live in.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2009

    great book

    From the start it is stimulating to find someone who shows you the other side of economics. Those who are unaware of real business tactics and what has almost decimated the economy read this. It is not too difficult to understand. She is very good in explaining the process of naked capitalism.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2013

    Naomi Klein isn't a stylist. Her sentence at the opening of Chap

    Naomi Klein isn't a stylist. Her sentence at the opening of Chapter 12 ("The Capitalist ID") is about as close as she gets to stylistic writing: "On the day I went to visit Jeffrey Sachs in October 2006, New York City was under a damp blanket of gray drizzle punctuated, every five paces or so, by a vibrant burst of red."

    No, she's not an English-language stylist. She's a Canadian journalist. And a damned good one, at that! And one who'd put a lot of journalists -- assuming they'd not simply been told to look the other way on the possible cause of a virtually worldwide financial crisis -- to shame in papers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, not to mention in magazines as august as The Atlantic. (Let's not even mention the networks, shall we? They're better at expounding upon popular trends and telling tragic doggie stories.)

    Could it be that the party (for many, though certainly not for all of us) here in these United States was just too long and too good from the end of WW II until now? Even Eisenhower -- a conservative if there ever was one -- publicly recognized the arrival of the military-industrial complex. Is this new brand of disaster capitalism really anything more than the "logical" evolution of that complex?

    I have a confession to make: I of course knew the name `Milton Friedman' and something about his reputation; I also knew the reputation of the University of Chicago (albeit more for its History Department than for its Economics Department); I, myself, am a graduate of the Philosophy Department of Columbia University. All of this notwithstanding, I was absolutely ignorant of any of this economic shock treatment -- from Chile and Argentina, to Poland and Russia, then on to Asia, to Iraq (where our behavior has been beyond despicable) and the Middle East, and back home again to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

    I owe Ms. Klein a humble vote of gratitude. And it was only thanks to a fellow Greek writer, whose own country is now on the verge of financial collapse, that I even found out about Ms. Klein's book.

    Don't make a comparable fool out of yourself through similar (and similarly unpardonable) ignorance. Buy this book and read it cover to cover! Yes, we're talking history here; but we're also talking current events -- events that could bring not only the entire developing world to its knees, but also these hallowed United States and our gracious neighbor to the north. And all because of one man, one misbegotten ideology, one group of protégés, acolytes, disciples -- and yes, I'll say it -- intellectual toadies known as `The Chicago Boys.'

    And the IMF and the World Bank, many of whose policy makers are obvious lackeys in the service of that same `School of Chicago' ideology if not to something even more sinister? Pfff!

    One caveat to all of the above: I've never read the original works of Milton Friedman. Nor did I ever attend any of his classes while he was still alive. I trust Ms. Klein to have reported as accurately as she has documented. If not, shame on me for being so gullible and impressionable.

    And one last thing: we all know the wide gulf that exists between the original teachings of Jesus and the way Christianity, through various churches and sects, has chosen to interpret and propagate those teachings over the centuries. Would Jesus Christ call himself a Christian by today's standards of Christianity? Karl Marx once famously said he was no Marxist. Would Milton Friedman, given the demonic evolution of his economic theory, still call himself a Friedmanite? I fear, given his comment in the Op Ed section of The Wall Street Journal as recently as September 15, 2005 (p. 410) that he would.

    The news in the concluding chapter ("Shock Wears Off: The Rise of People's Reconstruction") is good: all is not lost. Let's hope that Ms. Klein's optimism is not as much in error as my original ignorance. Let's hope that society -- and Rousseau's original concept of the social contract -- are not yet lost.

    RRB
    05/28/13

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2013

    Over the course of the last 40 years I've watched via the media

    Over the course of the last 40 years I've watched via the media a number of historic changes unfold like the end of apartheid in South Africa, Allende's election in Chile, and the fall of Poland's Communists.   Given the people taking over I was very surprised at the outcomes.  Ms. Klein brings a new lens to this history and suddenly these events not only make sense, but they are clearly linked together.   This book is an eye-opener.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    A must read, if you got the guts.

    This book sheds light on a lot of issues e.g Govt, companies, etc. I found it very detailed. Ms Klein did a great job.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2012

    She says what we're all thinking

    Every now and then a liberal economist will write about some evil of globalization, some manner in which Western financiers stole something of value from a poorer nation by imposing a depression on it, and will hedge against the obvious conclusion with "But they didn't mean to, it's just an unfortunate byproduct of their ideology."

    But she goes beyond making the accusation and provides tons of proof that the "they're evil" approach explains random, seemingly unrelated events better than the "they're stupid" explanation. Klein takes the reader through events in countries all over the globe, explaining how economic pain was used to drive through reforms that the countries themselves didn't want - reforms that the richer countries had often already rejected - in an attempt to get their hands on the long-term wealth of the country in question. Sure, you can still try to believe that all this looting, occurring for decades and performed by hundreds of people in disparate locations, happened just by chance, but that would be ignoring the most obvious explanation.

    The title comes from the strategy for changing Russia from a communist to a free market economy, which resulted in billions of dollars being taken out of Russia and put in Swiss bank accounts, a loss of 1/3 of GDP, and a massive increase in poverty. Even the IMF has admitted to mistakes in its advice to Russia, but if they're admitting to that much, how bad were things from the inside?

    It's a long book but you don't have to be familiar with economics or global 20th century history to get the point. In fact, its biggest strength is that its willing to explain everything for newcomers to these discussions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    An Important, Necessary book

    One of the most important book of the 20th century. Klein's researchis impeccable, and though some of her conclusions aren't necessarily where I mighthave thought to go, it doesn't change the fact that she proves the overall thesis of the book. This is a horrifying look into the twisted results of glorifying greed, the people who benefir from it and the people qho ultimately pay for it. I am, of course, over simplifying things, but this is the kind of book that is changing the way people look at the world and waking them up fro ma long slumber.

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  • Posted November 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Incredible book

    Klein puts the pieces of America's recent history and involvement in the dirty wars of South and Central America, globalization, the spread of free market ideology, the Iraq war, and the corporatization of the global economy. It's a riveting story that all Americans should read.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    Shock Doctrine

    I found the ideas to be very stimulating from the first couple of pages. Tried to put the book down so I wouldn't gobble it up in one reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2009

    Excelent!

    Noami Klein has written a superb book,with god research,with quotes from official documents,from actions and expressions of CEO's of companies that benefit from privatization and the role of the U.S. government granteeing exploitation in the Thirld World and within the U.S. itself.It also exposes the intelectual role of the "School of Chicago" assisting totalitarian governments and U.S. corporations in exploitation of human beings around the globe.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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