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Posted July 20, 2004
DON'T read unless you want to feel depressed and hopeless
I expected greater things from an author who is dubbed on the jacket as being 'one of the greatest authors of our time.' Unfortunately this book is one of the most negative pieces of garbage I¿ve read in a long time. Norman Mailer conveys to us his bitterness toward patriotism and his feelings of hatred toward all things American. Instead of critiquing these problems with an open mind and saying 'Ok, this is what we should do to fix the problem,' Mailer resigns all Americans (except himself, of course) to being materialistic, money grubbing vultures who want to conquer the entire world and make it capitalist. Mailer praises the acts of terrorists. He claims that 'most of us are wicked to a good degree.' He embarrasses victims of 9/11 by saying 'It¿s not the ones who were good fathers and good mothers that I mourn the most. It¿s the ones who came from families that were less happy' (as if any of the lives lost deserve less or more sympathy than the others.) He criticizes proud Americans who wave flags. 'The fact that we¿ve been a great democracy doesn¿t mean we will automatically be one if we keep waving the flag. It¿s ugly.' What Mailer doesn¿t comprehend is that so many people like President Bush because he gives our nation hope. This is all but lost on Mailer, who does nothing but pessimistically criticize instead of offer suggestions: 'We in the west have this habit of looking for solutions¿ There may be no solutions at this time. This may be the beginning of an international cancer we cannot cure.' According to Mailer, 'patriotism becomes the handmaiden to totalitarianism.' What Mailer does a good job of is making you feel a sense of dread. He claims that Bush is a 'bloodthirsty warmonger' and spouts absurdities like 'military presence in the middle east is a stepping stone to taking over the rest of the world.' This absolute hogwash does nothing to answer the question he imposed: Why are we at war? Mailer thinks that a few quotes from obscure sources proves his conspiracy theory that Bush/America is on a quest for world domination. Mailer suggests that we sacrifice security for democracy: 'Americans have to be willing to say at a certain point that we¿re ready to take some terrorist hits without panicking; that freedom is more important to us than security' and that we should 'learn to live with the anxiety' of terrorism. Hold up. WHAT?! Freedom may be more important to Mailer than security, but if one of my family members was killed in a terrorist attack, security would absolutely be my number one priority. Not only this, but I have a few qualms about taking political advice from an author who says that 'fascism is of a more natural state than democracy.' Mailer claims that there is a degeneration of the American society: 'The kids are getting to the point where they can¿t read, but they sure can screw.' Nice, Mailer. Real nice. The lack of confidence Mailer espouses in the American people is astounding as he talks about our 'monstrous arrogance.' He says 'we will never know just what we are fighting for' and 'we never know where our prayers are likely to go.' The only good (and I use that term loosely) thing about this book is that it is short, so you won¿t be mired in hopelessness and negativity for too long. It¿s only 100 pages of large, spaced out print, most of it dialogue.
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