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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new perspective into history
This book is a thoughtful, thorough and insightful study of totalitarian thought. Berman writes convincingly of his opinions and thoughts on totalitarian and how it is related to the Islamist movement that is raging through the Middle East. He writes about how the current Islamist movement came to being and why. He tells of the reasons why bin Laden is fighting the war...
Published on July 15 2004 by Busy Mom

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Logic, Emotionalism and Totalitarianism
This book is a rather strange, but quick read, that is much like a rice cake, plain, not much substance and unfortunately not satisfying.
Mr. Berman tries to be a good leftist throughout most of the book, he makes broad sweeping statements that most everything that the left has done is good, and most everything the right has done is bad. Mr Berman has a 'through the...
Published on April 19 2004 by Enigma


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new perspective into history, July 15 2004
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Paperback)
This book is a thoughtful, thorough and insightful study of totalitarian thought. Berman writes convincingly of his opinions and thoughts on totalitarian and how it is related to the Islamist movement that is raging through the Middle East. He writes about how the current Islamist movement came to being and why. He tells of the reasons why bin Laden is fighting the war against us ~~ not because we're greedy corporate Americans but because we are a threat to his and his people's vision of utopia. He also delves into the Israel and Palestine's problems. He also explains the history behind communism, facism, and socialism. Berman also talks about Western Europe and their ideas on democracy as well as United Nation's ineptness in dealing with different problems.
This is perhaps one of the most rewarding reading I've done lately. I don't know much about Islam and what causes Muslims to declare a jihad against Westerners. Then again, I don't know much about the history of the last fifty years or so. And this book has whetted my appetite to know more and how liberalism is related to the current events going on today, even with the Bush's administration. It is also a great way to learn more about the Islamist movement that is going on in the Middle Eastern countries as well as Arabic countries. It is an eye-opener for me and it does help me understand current events better.
This is one book that I will definitely pass onto my friends and family. I think everyone who is curious about world affairs and likes essay-type writing, will enjoy this book. It will provoke thought and conversation among your friends and family. It will help you see the world in a different light, even if you don't agree with the author's perspective. But he makes his arguments in a convincing way ~~ and the book is easy to read, very well-written and with thoughtful, concise reasoning behind every word.
7-15-04
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful discussion on totalitarianism, July 5 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Hardcover)
Got this from one of my liberal friends...a Michael Moore lefty with a whole shelf of Chomsky in his library. Told me Berman's book is a good framework for redirecting the discussion about the nature of our enemy.
After reading it, I share my friend's veiw. Berman does a wonderful job of laying out some of the internal battles facing the West in first defining what it is we are at War with.
Definitely worth buying.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Short, to the point, and excellent, May 31 2004
By 
Squab (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Paperback)
This book is a wonderful short tour of twentieth century totalitarian ideology and its similarities to current Muslim extremists. It traces the flow of ideas in Europe, especially Germany, to Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, and on to Saudi Arabia, Al Qaeda, The Taliban, and Iran.
Berman's successful identification of this common thread of ideas reveals that dictators of today and the recent past in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan are using Islam as a stepping stone to power in the same way that the Nazis used race and the Communists used class - they all ruthlessly killed their enemies and quieted dissent at any cost. According to Berman, the real object is power, and the real problem is totalitarianism - whatever form it may take. His solution to this totalitarian monster is classical liberalism and the free exchange of ideas.
Does he explain every detail of exactly how the ideas change as they flow? No, and this is not because his understanding is simplistic. His intended audience is an educated audience, which is at the very least moderately familiar with the history and philosophy discussed.
It is a short book, and in some places incomplete. For instance, totalitarianism did not begin in the twentieth century - see the Inquisition and the slaughter of the Cathars, and on and on back into history - it did however, seem to become larger and more terrifying after the rise of 19th century liberalism and the great disaster of World War I. However, this does not take away from its central thesis about totalitarianism, and that our defeat of it abroad will make us safer at home. Petty squabbling (no pun intended) over ideological and political toes stepped on cannot and do not take away from this powerful central argument.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and insightful arguments, May 19 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Hardcover)
Ah, if only more liberals wrote like this. Berman emphasizes and elaborates on issues other lefties will not simply because it would mean identifying with American (liberal) society and principles, and that just simply wouldn't do for some (i.e. Noam Chomsky).
Berman's analysis of totalitarian roots shines new light on just what the United States is dealing with in fanatical Islam, comparing elements of terrorism with the cults of death inherent in German nationalism, Spanis facism and Soviet communism. One of his central arguments is that the United States has too many influential intellectuals who simply refuse to believe terrorism is an irrational act and would rather excuse it as "understandable" and an act of freedom. He offers a persuasive argument that the world is not governed by logic and that a cult of death has more to do with nihilsm and fanatical, irrational belief than it does in anything else. He sights the French socialists prior to Hitler's occupation as the embodiment of such naivete. Also, he shows how U.S. economic hegemony and foreign policy are not central to the terrorists' rage. Rather, it is secular culture we live in, and the separation of church and state and the way we live without God overseeing everything in between--that's what makes us infidels. Indeed, the central anxiety of Sayyid Qutb, the Egyption Islamist philosopher who influenced Saudi Wahhabism, is the temptation that western, liberal ideas of government and culture will influence his and other Arabs thinking and pull them away from what they ultimately strive for.
This book has changed my thinking drastically in some areas. I have tried to remain optimistic about Dubya over the past year, but Berman's no nonsense analysis of Bush and how he has carried out this war are so spot on they cannot be ignored. His Bush criticisms are new and fresh, and aren't blatantly ideological and partisan like every other Bush-basing book floating around on Barnes and Noble's New Non-Fiction shelf.
Berman's point is that America does have a role in promoting liberal and democratic societies througout the Middle East. It's just that Bush does not have the intellectual background, nor the character, to frame the debate as it should be. Instead of selling the war based on fear, it should've been sold for humanitarian and moral reasons.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Sophomoric, May 16 2004
By 
L. F Sherman "dikw" (Wiscasset, ME United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Hardcover)
Despite a fair summary of Qutb and a few critical comments about Sharon, Berman defends aggressive attacks on the "enemy". The book and thesis are essentially sophomoric simplification that seems to have impressed (from plaudits printed inside) numerous other unqualified readers who know the subject no better. It meets emotional needs for some but adds no depth of understanding..
The thesis is a defense of aggression based on little more that Pop Psychology about totalitarianism and "suicidal" violence - referring to Camus but lacking his broader understanding. Broad categories and labels are grotesquely inaccurate lumping Islamic Fundamentalists together and describing them as Fascist and Totalitarian. There is considerable diversity in the real world with some ready to participate in elections, and most who are not terrorists. Many are concerned almost exclusively with their own homelands. In the case of Iraq a secular, anti Fundamentalist, enemy of Al Qaeda was the US target. Consider too that there are proportionally probably more Christian Fundamentalists in the US than Muslim ones outside Saudi and Afghanistan. The history (including questionable conclusions describing the fall of France to the Nazis as solely from "liberal/socialist" lack of backbone) and psychology (sex, suicide, and totalitarianism are a syndrome) are not valid. They do, however, serve as propaganda demonizing Muslims in support of US and Israeli state counter terror. Again they provide a reason to avoid looking at the real issues and grievances resulting from those policies or the essential source of terror training and broad contacts from the CIA and ISI trained alumni of the Afghan-US war against the Soviets in Central Asia. (These are the folks whose leaders trained in the US and who were called, like the Contras, "the moral equivalent of our founding Fathers" by Reagan!) At least Berman's book it is not quite the insult to one's intelligence as explaining 9-11 by "they are jealous of our freedoms" but it is just as muddled thinking and equally motivated by propaganda rather than serious analysis - just this time for a book rather than a sound bite.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A worthless, dishonest book from an apologist for Israel., May 7 2004
By 
R. M. Aarons (San Francisco Bay Area, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Paperback)
Here's a typical example of why Berman's book is not just politically reactionary, but worthless: There's a nine-page put-down of Noam Chomsky, primarily for the latter's response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but also for other things Chomsky has said, on topics ranging from Cambodia to linguistics. And in these nine pages, there's not a single actual quote from Chomsky! (By the way, since Berman's book not only contains no footnotes but no index either, I'll tell you that the anti-Chomsky screed starts on page 144.)

Most of Berman's other attacks on leftists also contain either no quotes or short quotes (usually not even full sentences) without citations that would allow the reader to locate the context of the quote.

Berman does extensively quote certain Islamist writers (though again without citations). This makes me think that he knows that Islamist ideas (or at least the ones he quotes) will, unlike leftist ideas, not appeal to those he is trying to win over to his position, which is essentially support of Western capitalism in general and Israel in particular.

Those who are looking for a balanced refutation of both Islamism and its Western imperialist pseudo-opposition would be much better served by starting with Tariq Ali's "The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity" (ISBN 185984457X).
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3.0 out of 5 stars Logic, Emotionalism and Totalitarianism, April 19 2004
By 
Enigma "Cheers" (Constantly Moving) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Hardcover)
This book is a rather strange, but quick read, that is much like a rice cake, plain, not much substance and unfortunately not satisfying.
Mr. Berman tries to be a good leftist throughout most of the book, he makes broad sweeping statements that most everything that the left has done is good, and most everything the right has done is bad. Mr Berman has a 'through the looking glass' perspective of programs. If it works it was obviously a liberal idea and if it fails it was a conservative idea. For example he rallies along the false notion that Hitler was a right wing conservative, yeah right. Lets see, he was the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NAZI) and all one has to do is read Hitler's speeches to find out that he was a totalitarian socialist.
The substance of the book though is the inescapable fact that there can be no peace with an ideological entity that believes you are evil and they have an edict to kill you. What is shocking to this reader is the naiveté that those on the left, especially the author posses. He shows just how immersed he is in his circles of left-ism that he and many others like him have left reality. Mr. Berman was shocked that 9/11 would happen, as a matter of fact he has the temerity to say that nobody imagined such an event. This viewpoint only shows the ignorance of the intelligentsia of the left, for there were many books, articles, and the plethora of attacks on the Unites States that preceded this act proved the threat that radical Islam posed for the world. Of course, the radical appeasement minded left pooh-poohed this notion and implied that this was the conservative ramblings of the war-mongering right.
In the end Mr. Bearman gets it partially right, radical totalitarian Islam and the standard chamberlain-esque approach of appeasement does not work. Therefore at least this liberal writer has figured out that Islam with its goal of conquering the world is a dangerous construct. The two problems that Mr. Bearman never addresses are just how to convince others on the left that this form of totalitarianism is bad while their brand is good. And appeasement has never and will never work against a despotic dictator. Perhaps Mr. Bearman will continue to ponder these questions and come up with the answer. One can only hope so.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Left's confusion, Feb. 28 2004
By 
Noel Collamer (Bellingham, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Hardcover)
Probably the reason Paul Berman doesn't write about good "Third Force" alternatives is because there aren't any. It's just a dirty deal that probably won't get done.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Weapons of Mass Delusion, Feb. 20 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Hardcover)
Paul Berman's attempt to make a case for war on Iraq is based on anecdotal evidence that so far has not been borne out.
The first part of the book is his attempt to 'prove' he is a liberal.
Sir, I really don't care if you are a zebra. You were co-opted by the conservatives you so despised. What a fool!
Berman's arguments for war are based on discursive 'facts' and hearsay. His arguments for a liberal regime in Iraq are also faulty. And his discussion of 'terrorism' fails to convince.
Right now, you are probably very disconcerted how things have turned out (no WMD) but your rationale ('but Sadam was a WMD.') is a weak case for a first strike.
Leave this book for the political science class of 2053 as they try to make 'sense' of the Iraq War and how 'rational' people could have supported such a lark.
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1.0 out of 5 stars This is totally bogus. This war is imperialism oil war, Feb. 10 2004
By 
Juan Cruz (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Terror And Liberalism (Hardcover)
This book is totally out of line, the author seems to me too extremist and biased with his statist and reactionary view. Even the government admits that there are no dangerous weapons in Iraq, the so called WMDs war is not about religion fundamentalism or to fight religion-terrorism but about oil. Another of the author's labeling is to equally label all progressive movements as terrorists. He places all communists and leftists along the line with criminals, fascists, nazis, and extremists. This is a Ronald Reagan, Churchill, Mussolini type of statist and reactionary language used by neo-cons think-tanks to destroy opposite views. We have to point out that religion have always been used by empires and states to rule people. Religion and religious language is used by governmnets to fool and opiate the masses into wars and the government agendas. Another wrong point i see is that there was no physical evidence of the link between the events of 9-11, Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden. The author bases himself on absolute blind faith instead of sound arguments backed by credible evidence, he even bashes the award winning literary professor Noam Chomsky. So do your self a favor, don't believe the corporate-media, the reactionary writters and think for yourself first, question the authorities and what they tell you through the media, books, etc.
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Terror And Liberalism
Terror And Liberalism by Paul Berman (Paperback - May 10 2004)
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