Essential Chomsky Paperback – Feb 12 2008
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"Chomsky ranks with Marx, Shakespeare, and the Bible as one of the ten most quoted sources in the humanities-and is the only writer among them still alive." Guardian "Chomsky is arguably the most important intellectual alive." New York Times "Noam Chomsky is one of the most significant challengers of unjust power and delusions; he goes against every assumption about American altruism and humanitarianism." -- Edward Said "Not to have read [Chomsky] is to court genuine ignorance." Nation "A rebel without a pause." -- Bono --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT and the author of numerous seminal books, including Manufacturing Consent, Deterring Democracy and Hegemony or Survival. He was voted the world's leading public intellectual in the 2005 Prospect/Foreign Policy poll. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Arnove makes a good choice in starting with Chomsky's review of "Verbal Behavior"; because Chomsky's skillful dissecting of Skinner's work clearly demonstrates the way Chomsky's mind works as well as the thoroughness with which he examines every subject. It also is a good choice because one avoids any political bias when reading it. With his political pieces, of course such emotional attachments to one's position exist, and so it would be much more difficult to set a baseline with one of those pieces.
When looking at the political pieces, Chomsky uses the same logic and thorough examination tactics that he used in his review, and that he also brings to the other writings on linguistics, with varying levels of effectiveness.Read more ›
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To give you a better idea of what the book covers I have listed the contents.
Contents are as follows:
1. A Review of B.F. Skinner's `Verbal Behaviour'
2. Preface to `Aspects of the Theory of Syntax
3. Methodological Preliminaries
4. The Responsibility of Intellectuals
5. On Resistance
6. Language and Freedom
7. Notes On Anarchism
8. The Rule of Force in International Affairs
9. Watergate: A Skeptical View
10. The Remaking Of History
11. Foreign Policy and the Intelligentsia
12. The United States and East Timor
13. The Origins of the "Special Relationship"
14. Planning for Global Hegemony
15. The View Beyond: Prospects for the Study of Mind
16. Containing the Enemy
17. Introduction to `The Minimalist Program'
18. New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind
19. Intentional Ignorance and Its Uses
20. A World Without War
21. Reflections on 9-11
22. Language and the Brain
23. United States - Israel - Palestine
24. Imperial Grand Strategy
25. Afterword to Failed States
I would also personally recommend in addition to this book (in order of most highly recommended): 'Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky', 'Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance','Failed States' and 'Manufacturing Consent'.
I also love that he is an expert in linguistics and has several of his articles from this field that accompany his many articles based on political analysis. There are three chapters that have captured my interest in particular: The Responsibility of Intellectuals, Language and Freedom, and The Remaking of History. Just from these alone I feel I got my value in purchasing this book.
I find that when I really set my mind to his writings they aren't so hard to comprehend as I imagine and usually I feel rewarded from the ideas and facts I come away with from my read.
I envy anyone who can absorb the 25 chapters from this entire book. But for me I'll be relatively happy reading slowly those chapters that most capture my interest.
Chomsky can be very loose with facts, as can been seen by perusing some of the articles in this book. For example, when discussing the (illegal and immoral) invasion of East Timor by Indonesia, he states that the United States supplied 90 percent of arms used, but he does not give a reference for this assertion. And in the same article, he refers to an "outstanding Australian specialist" on East Timor describing Fretlin, the political party at the time of the invasion, as "populist Catholic". Chomsky often quotes individuals that he deems as expert in a subject, but he never gives objective criteria for what constitutes an expert. Readers who are not intimidated by authority demand evidence be given for assertions, and it matters not to what degree the person who makes these assertions is held in esteem.
But the greatest contribution that Chomsky has made, and one that is detailed in the article on the responsibility of intellectuals, is that he eloquently speaks out for the joining of actions and words. Too often intellectuals, from both the "right" and the "left", approach critical analysis from the comfort and serenity of the academic armchair. Chomsky encourages active involvement, and understands that a large degree of stoicism and perseverance may be required if one is to make changes in social hierarchies, or even perhaps to dissolve these hierarchies entirely. For this reason Chomsky is not a conservative, for he is not afraid to bring about change in very short periods of time. But he is also not afraid to take on liberals such as John F. Kennedy, who he clearly deplores as is evident by reading some of the articles in this book. No public or governmental figure or nation state is sacred for Chomsky.
Given his current age, Chomsky may be leaving us soon. Some will perhaps rejoice, but even those who strongly disagree with him will certainly miss him, for he gave them incentive to better formulate their own positions and make them distinctive from his. One cannot have a better testament to one's existence than the encouragement of critical thinking.
Since some of the essays are excerpts of chapters in his various books, some readers familiar with Chomsky may find it repetitive. For someone completely new to Chomsky, I would recommend "Understanding Power" as a much more comprehensive, readable place to start.
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