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on October 1, 2007
Regardless of your current beliefs regarding free-market capitalism, I believe that most people who actually read this book, (which many of the previous reviewers clearly haven't) will find it to be an important and well-researched book.

This book can be seen as the alter-ego book to Thomas Friedman's 'The World is Flat', covering many of the same issues and specific case studies. Friedman is clearly approaching free-market globalization from an optomistic and appreciative perspective, Klien clearer believes that neo-liberal economics have been imposed on countries around the world against their will, and to great detriment to human well-being.

Whatever your political persuation, anyone who has thouroughly read both books will recognize that the 'Shock Doctrine' boasts far more supportive research, to go along with the journalistic interview that form the bulk of the actual text, than Friedman's. Additionally, Klien display's a much more accurate understanding of the technicalities of capitalism than Friedman, probably due to her education at the London School of Economics. Furthermore, whereas Friedman's book reads as a summary of the ideas the have graced the cover of many large newspapers and television shows (Friedman himself works for the New York Times) Klien perspective is novel.

Clearly, this book is a polemic, it contains strong language and makes a strong argument for a particularily damning evaluation of the role of American Academics, the American Government, and many American Foundations in the forced undercutting of democracy around the world for the purpose of creating unpopular neo-liberal make-overs.

But, beyond the political arguments, which I believe are very strong, Klien rings a perspective on such historical events such as the Fall of Communism in Russia, the Dictatorship in Argentina, the Currency Crises in South East Asia that are unknown in North America. Not only does she tell, and rigurously support through documentation, an incredible behind the scenes exposition of past events, she also provides quotes of the status-quo account, including writters such as Friedman, from major news sources and goverment officials.

As a history student who has studied many of these events, and has spent years learning how to evaluate historical source material, I must say I was shocked by the amount of information that I did not know. I went so far as to look into some of the source material Klien uses and found that most of it stands up to the highest academic standards. Of course, as with any journalistic book, some of the details of the accounts come from single interview sources, and must be taken with a grain of salt.

Overall, Shock Doctrine is an incredible book that is easy to read, if stylistically reduntant at times, captivating and incredibly important as an alternative to the corporate media that supplies most of the information that North Americans recieve about world events and history. The documentation of the privatization of the American Security and rescue industry after September 11th, 2001; as well as the mess of corperate misconduct in Iraq is worth the price of the book times ten all in itself. Importantly, many of the statistics and figures that Klien quotes, and there are many, are directly from Government sources, (burried in the middle of a Congressional Hearing, official contract or thosand page restructuring document), while many of the most candid guiding statements are from such people as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Bremmer, Donald Rumsfield...and the list continues.

A stunning book that reads with the energy of a murder mystery and will shake up the way you think about the history of free-market capitalism, as well as the history of CIA funded torture, a major milestone of which took place in Montreal and McGill University.

Even if you believe in free-market capitalism, you can still enjoy this book. More than an argument against a particular system, it is a call for democracy, justice, and fair debate in all forms of political change.

And a note to anyone turned off by a previous reviewers commentary about "leftist only hating capitalist dictators and so on..) Klien spares none of her viciferous anger when discussing the crimes of Stalinist Russia, Mao, or any other leftist dictator. But, the point is that these figures are a) known to the public for their crimes, and b) do not represent a idealogy that is continuing to do violence to people around the world.

That is what makes this book so relevant, all the issues she discusses are important right now.
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on September 21, 2007
Depending on where you sit on the political spectrum, this is a book you are going to love or hate. Personally, I think Naomi Klein does an excellent job providing a historical lens on some high level political and economic decisions that are being made (largely) behind closed doors. She brings these ideas to the surface where they can be openly debated and I applaud her for that. After all, that is what makes for healthy democracy.

Having living in Korea during the "Asian flu" of 1997-98 I can honestly say that her synopsis of what happened there was exceedingly accurate; and there was no doubt in my mind that the West genuinely took advantage of a country in need to create "trade advantage", force public downsizing, and to force open borders to foreign investment. No matter what you think of her politics, this is definitely worth reading, and I for one, am the better informed for it. Thank you Ms. Klein!
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on October 14, 2007
Economics is the bed-rock of society, and has precipitated more than a few political ousters. But what if economic shock therapy and regimes the world around were inherently linked?

This is the subject of Naomi Klein's latest novel.

The Shock Doctrine is a whirlwind look at history through the eyes of a dominant school of economic thought, the University of Chiacgo. It goes from South America to Europe, eventually returning home to America in cataloguing the effects of the Chicago School. By extending the Nobel-prize winning Amnesty International Human Rights report on General Pinochet's Argentianian torture regime, it adds necessary context that North Americans have lost out on.

It all came down to a flood of funding to free market think tanks from companies opposed to FDR's Keynesian New Deal, and from the lack of competition from the fall of Communism; she talks about the lack of funding and lack of a Marshall Plan for post-Soviet Russia and post-Saddam Iraq. As any free market-er knows, competition is the foundation for a healthy and innovative market.

Klein happens upon an important idea called the "Davos Dilemma", which contradicts the idea that global trade would bring world peace. She ties this in to the lack of progress in peace between the Israelis and Palestinians since the 1990s, linking that to the burgeoning homeland security bubble that Israel now offers the world with the slogan, "it's our birthright".

In the end, she says no conspiracies are required. It all comes down to companies doing their jobs, to profit their shareholders. The problem is in governments relinquishing their jobs to act in the public interest to companies with countervailing interests.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book for linking . There are many reviews here from people who seemed to only read the back cover of the novel and think of it as an attack on Milton Friedman, rather than what the book really is: an enticing journalistic examination of the Chicago school and it's fruits. Simply put, 30 years of free market history shows that imposing solutions on people is not democratic and is not even pragmatic. What does this book tell us of human nature? Whatver we choose, goes.
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on October 15, 2007
I had never heard of Noimi Klein before this book was released, and had certainly never read anything written by her. Naomi Klein has delivered an astonishing book; a brilliant piece of research, written with power and excellence; graceful, elegant and eloquent; full of heart and intelligence; insight, understanding and compassion. This book is a must read for all; for anyone who may be put off by its sheer size and volume, fear not, it is a riveting and fulfilling experience; can't put it down! It should be required reading for all students: under-graduates, graduates, and post-graduates. This book is an extraordinary wake-up call; and if she never wrote another word, Naomi has, with this book alone, done more than most in fulfilling service to all of humanity. Thank you Naomi!
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on September 15, 2007
It's been many years since I have read such an original argument about the global economy. Most recent mainstream writing on the subject seems to merely rehash the old debates over globalization that Ms. Klein contributed to so insightfully in No Logo seven years ago, debates that were effectively sidelined by the clamor over 9/11 and the Iraq War. In The Shock Doctrine, Klein brilliantly points out that corporate globalization is at the core of the "War on Terror," and indeed, of a 30 year string of attacks on left-of-center governments around the world. The Shock Doctrine is a must read for anyone who wants to understand how a far-right economic agenda became the global norm and what we can do to fight back.
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on December 17, 2012
This should be required reading in all Universities, and by all politicians. Naomi Klein has nailed the politics of profit perfectly, and made me consider Canadian and American offers to help developing nations very suspicious indeed.
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"... and so Milton Friedman walked into the flames, sprouted horns and a tail, and chuckled sinisterly to himself about the destruction he had wrought." Naomi Klein would have been better to have ended her well researched but utterly unconvincing tome in this way, as her central premise - that Friedman and the Chicago School of monetarist economists are responsible for most of the world's evils the past 40 years - is utter fiction.

Klein has meticulously footnoted (nearly 1,000) her work, drawing extensively from the past four decades of press, and recounts in chilling detail the abuses and horrors of that period's economic and political upheaval, and of its personal suffering (torture including electric shocks): Latin America, including the dictatorships of Argentina and Chile; Eastern Europe, including Poland and Russia's transitions to democracy; Asia, including Indonesia's Suharto era and China's Tiananmen Square massacre; the transition from apartheid in South Africa; and even some events in the US (Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans) and the UK (coal miners' strike and the Falklands war).

It's hard to imagine a common thread between these events, but Klein asserts that they all share the "Shock Doctrine"; the forced imposition of major societal change based on events so dramatic the populace loses all resistance. These events may be natural disasters (Katrina), political revolutions (both too and from democracy), or state sponsored terror (civilian disappearances and torture), but in each case their common element is Friedman's economic policies which were designed to cause or enhance the "shock".

In Klein's view, the Chicago School economic policies ("radical free markets" in her words) are directly responsible for the longevity of dictatorships (Pinochet), the quick demise of nascent democratic governments (Poland, Russia), the economic hardships of working people (everywhere), the increasing inequity between wealthy and poor (everywhere), and the transfer of wealth from sovereign countries to western multinational companies (no mention of the opposite via soveriegn wealth funds).

Unfortunately Klein spends very little time on the Monetarists' economic underpinnings, why they believed theirs was the best economic policy, how it differed from Keynes' views (who she refers to often, but again with very little economic insight), or what economic policies she would prescribe instead. This book ends up as just a litany of the world's evils. Klein is also inconsistent in her views. She rails against the IMF for loaning funds irresponsibly to developing nations, but later complains when it doesn't lend funds to other countries. She points out the terrible impact of high inflation, then complains about the high interest rate policies implemented to combat it.

There's no denying the terrible events during this period, that economic policies played a major role and that those same policies may drive economic growth to the benefit of the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor. As a recounting of this history, "The Shock Doctrine" delivers the goods. As a cogent argument to support a thesis, the book is a complete failure. For a more compelling, thoughtful and believable critique of Friedman, see Hyman Minsky's "Stabilizing an Unstable Economy", which is all thought and no news clippings.
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on September 29, 2009
I absolutely loved Klein's No Logo, and while I did not turn it into a personal bible and start attending anti-WTO protests, I was intrigued enough by her conclusions that her geopolitical book on post-Katrina/Iraq relations was an easy purchase.
I score the book 3/5 for the following reasons:

1) Klein paints a fantastic narrative here, going from the US-sponsored electroshock experiments, through Latin America in the mid 20th century, to South Africa, Poland, Russian, Iraq, and finally landing "home" in Southeast USA. The problem is, she spends MUCH too long with the Latin American case studies, and worse again, she tends to REPEAT many of her points/conclusions regarding this area in LATER sections to the point that some of the interesting chapters end up being more about COMPARING Israel, Iraq, etc to the Latin cases then exploring them to the same degree.

2) As a result of the aforementioned repetition, the book is far too long. I have no problem reading a long book, when each page is roughly equally weighted, or at the very least justified. In this case, it *feels* like Klein is "padding" the length a little.

3) Related to #1, Klein really doesn't go nearly deep enough into her case studies of Israel, Katrina, or Indonesia. These cases would have been better left out then hurried through.

So, in conclusion, I cannot in good faith give this book an 80%, however, it is certainly better than a 60%. So I will give it 3 stars, though I would consider it a 3.5. Definitely a good read, especially for multidisciplinary students who can tolerate the repetition.
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on March 18, 2016
Well written, well researched, engaging and enlightening. That being said, it's taking me a long time to read this book because after every few pages I have to take a break to shake off the feelings of helpless anger. Having your eyes opened to an unpleasant view isn't always a bad thing, in this case it's a necessary thing.
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on December 14, 2010
I'm giving this book a 4 star rating because even though I think it is a very important work, it is far from presenting a flawless argument.

In The Shock Doctrine Klein describes how "Friedmanite" neo-liberal economic policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization have been implemented over the past 40 years. The book provides a detailed account of many instances where these economic policies have been forcibly implemented against people's wishes through coercion and dictatorship or sneakily introduced during periods of national weakness such as after the "shock" of disasters, natural or man-made.

In fact, the central theme of the book is that neo-liberal economic policies are virtually always opposed by a majority of people in a society and can therefore only be implemented when people are under a state of shock. Klein demonizes Milton Friedman and others belonging to the Chicago School of Economics. According to Klein, the economic policies that these "Chicago Boys" advocate are something akin to pure evil and because they so often have to be implemented by force, Klein puts some of the blame for many atrocities on the people that have advocated those policies. This interpretation of events will seem far-fetched to some but Klein does bring a new and interesting perspective that shouldn't be ignored.

Unfortunately, The Shock Doctrine is very much a one-sided argument focusing on historical facts that strengthen the "shock and awe" theme that is central to the book while for the most part totally ignoring potential counter-arguments. For example, Klein is quick to point out how neo-liberal economics is often forcefully imposed on people and then praises social-democratic initiatives such as ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América) in countries such as Cuba, Venezueala, Ecuador and Bolivia ignoring the authocratic character of these regimes (especially Cuba and Venezuela).

Notwithstanding these shortcomings, The Shock Doctrine provides a new way to look at important events in world and economic history and also draws interesting parrallels between physical, political and economic violence. So overall well worth reading.
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