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Starred Review. Well-known journalist and filmmaker Pilger remains faithful to his decades-long quest to penetrate the citadel of political power and show that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes. Reminding readers that "if power was truly invincible, it would not fear the people so much as to expend vast resources trying to distract and deceive them," he surveys five countries where freedom has been deferred. In his first example, Pilger conducts a searing probe into the widely unrecognized fate of the Chagos islanders, who in 1971 were brutally expelled from their homeland through secretive and illegal actions by successive British administrations to make way for a massive American military base at Diego Garcia. Then he examines Israel, which he calls "the undisputed world champion violator of international law" and its brutal grip on the West Bank and Gaza. He also looks at India, a country in which, he argues, the "modern imperial cult of neo-liberalism" has led to increases in poverty. In South Africa, he shows, poverty is rife and whites still own most of the good land, and in Afghanistan, land mines, "gender apartheid" and despotism still reign supreme, despite the American-led "liberation." This highly informed, thoughtful and passionate work is as important a thread in the world's growing tapestry of political counternarratives as those of Dee Brown or Howard Zinn. (Apr.)
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Imperial ambitions of the U.S and Britain have threatened aspirations for freedom in a variety of smaller nations, not just in the distant past but as recently as the 1960s through the current day, according to renowned journalist and filmmaker Pilger. The small island of Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, was sold by the British to the American military in the 1960s, its inhabitants dumped in the slums of Mauritius, uncompensated and unrecognized. Recent court challenges revealed the ruthlessness of the two powers, but the island remains the third largest military base for the U.S and its launching pad for attacks against the Middle East. Pilger draws on meticulous research and interviews to uncover the human cost of the skulduggery of the imperial powers in Diego Garcia as well as Afghanistan, Iraq, South Africa, and Palestine as the U.S and Britain have heartlessly put their interests ahead of those of citizens of weaker nations. The U.S and Britain have, according to Pilger, crushed hopes for freedom even as they have espoused a belief in spreading democracy. Vanessa Bush
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