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A Valuable and Captivating Polemic
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.