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InstaPundit.com Civilization and Its Enemies is indispensable for anyone who wants to understand what is going on in the world today. Lee Harris explains why people are trying to kill us — and why so many in the West are reluctant to face reality.
Arnold Beichman author of Nine Lies About America A learned, imaginative study of the new world of the twenty-first century and the opening gun, 9/11, of World War III. We know in our gut and in our rhetoric that our world is changed forever — but how and why and what has changed is what Lee Harris's brilliant analysis is all about.
Posted June 21, 2004
In my opinion Harris sees through the clutter of our everyday political life in a world still constantly feuding among itself. Although America itself was born as a result of people desperately wanting to get away from despotic rulers in an attempt to build a better life for themselves and others similarly inspired, it did not put an end to the aggressive political opportunism of which particularly the Europeans have been so guilty in the 19th and 20th centuries. Notwithstanding, America strongly identifies with the essential progressive spirit of Western civilization, which can rightfully claim to have benefited the whole world. Consequently America stepped up to the plate twice in the 20th century to save western civilization as man's best hope for a better future yet. One must have lived through some of this painful history, like I have, or be at least an ardent student of history to realize that there are and always will be those who do not like others. America is a tall tree politically and as a result catches most of the world's enmity and jealousy. Because the average American or European doesn't really have any grounding in history anymore, most people do not understand the brilliance with which the author explains the threat faced by the west. Human nature has not changed in 10,000 years, only our understanding of how difficult it is to develop a somewhat civilized society and create a way to promote and defend it. It is the lack of real understanding of what other people have done historically that encourages too many of us to consider all human experience as equally worthwhile. It is not, no matter how hard one would want it to be true. The author carefully and persuasively threads his way through all these modern conceptual minefields to give us an overview of why America is the only country prepared and able to defend our way of life and why this is so fundamentally important for the future of the whole world. If we don't we will repeat the lessons of history. The book is clearly controversial in the minds of those of a liberal persuasion but living one's life in an idealized world is not helpful to anyone. An outstanding treatise. This book should be required reading in all Highschools and constructively discussed within the family and by the media.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 16, 2004
The entire substance of the book, which contains a few solid nuggets, could be presented adequately in a magazine article. I stopped after reading the first 50 pages or so. One of the reviewers used the term 'turgid' which seems apt.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 25, 2004
Lee Harris's treatise is certainly a controversial one, and should spark a great deal of discussion no matter whether one subscribes to it. As an essayist, I'm sure Harris is rightfully lauded, but his book 'Civilization and Its Enemies' is an unfortunately dismissive and ultimately hollow book. Chapters which run roughly ten to fifteen pages could easily have been less than two, as Harris needlessly expounds upon ideas with example after example from periods of world history which, while apt, are often so far out of contemporary readers' contexts as to be almost laughably inappropriate. This is not to say Harris is wrong - his forceful assertion that the entire world-historical climate (to use his terminology) has changed post-9/11 is accurate, to be sure, and unsettling in the least. But as a book, this just does not work. It's attitude is dismissive, its organization haphazard, its composition long-winded. 'Civilization and Its Enemies' would succeed were its 220 pages more like fifty.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 24, 2004
These are well written essays that will have readers debate several of the prime conclusions (America is the last bastion for civilization to fend off the barbarians and America hid in the sand as if it had no enemies until the 9/11 wake up call). CIVILIZATION AND ITS ENEMIES postulates that recent presidents especially the enemy of the state Clinton failed to understand that the world was and is an unsafe place with many villains ready to destroy ¿civilization¿; 9/11 warned us that the barbarians had crossed the Rubicon. If you accept that the Cold War was nonexistent and that Reagan, Bush the father and Clinton never sent troops to Panama, Kuwait, and Bosnia than this book is easier to follow even with its bias towards America as the last hope to save civilization (The Ugly American Syndrome). The discussions on Greece, Plato, Rome, and Dune are very interesting. On the other hand the Al Qaeda snippets describe the enemy, but fail to balance the picture of kids receiving three-square meals, a place to sleep, an education, and a reason to live while civilization makes oil deals. One sided as an Emperor Bush cheerleader, Lee Harris raises several interesting questions on what is civilization, what is its future, and indirectly who knew and failed to act before 9/11as he draws generalizations that lead to those in the middle and to the left wondering who was Nero¿s scribe? <P>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.