2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and insightful
O'Rourke opens this engaging sojourn through various realms of conflict with a reminiscence of Berlin in 1989 when the Wall came down. He takes a wry look at American foreign policy during the Cold War, under Clinton and under the first President Bush.
Next stop is Kosovo 1989 where the author shares his conversations with refugees, peacekeepers and veterans of...
Published on July 18 2006 by Pieter Uys
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright.... I guess so....
I gotta give PJ 3 stars, as I used to be a big fan. Now that I know something, he's not as funny. It's harder to be funny from the right, or from the top... and in "Peace Kills" it doesn't work so well for me. Now that I think back, PJ's style could be summed up as "I wonder what the poor people are doing? Heh heh." That angle provided a boost...
Published on Jun 21 2004 by Ann Lesters
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and insightful,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)O'Rourke opens this engaging sojourn through various realms of conflict with a reminiscence of Berlin in 1989 when the Wall came down. He takes a wry look at American foreign policy during the Cold War, under Clinton and under the first President Bush.
Next stop is Kosovo 1989 where the author shares his conversations with refugees, peacekeepers and veterans of the Kosovo Liberation Army. From there he takes us to Israel where he shares his impressions of the land and of Z, his witty tour guide. The author observes that Zionism was ultimately right and the only utopian "ism" to become a success.
The chapter 9/11 Diary records the reactions of ordinary Americans to that infamous day and considers overseas reactions while also presenting a picture of the kooks in a Washington "peace" rally.
He visited Egypt in Dec 2000 and regales the reader with reflections on Egypt's present and past. His thoughts on why the Arab World has fallen so far behind the West and the Far East are noteworthy as well as his descriptions of Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian media.
In Nobel Sentiments, O'Rourke skewers a group of Nobel prize winners (including Jose Saramago and Nadine Gordimer) who issued a banal and empty statement in 2001, pointing out their imbecilic notions on the political and social future. As he so accurately observes, nothing in their fatuous statement indicates that the opinions of ordinary people are more foolish than those of Nobel laureates.
In April 2002 the author attended a Palestinian Solidarity March in Washington DC. Commenting on the demonstration's lack of intelligible demands, he nails down the core issue of the Middle East conflict: Israel's stubborn insistence on existing and the stubborn refusal of the Arab dictatorships to accept the fact. The demonstrators consisted of a wide spectrum of moonbats, from Environmental Nuts to Black Panthers, a crazy bunch of nihilists with only one thing in common: they're all losers.
Thoughts On The Eve of War reflects his experiences in Iraq before and after Operation Iraqi Freedom, plus reminiscences of the situation in Kuwait after the First Gulf War. The book concludes with a visit to Iwo Jima and reflections on the nature of modern warfare.
Peace Kills may not provide as many side-splittingly funny moments as some of O'Rourke's earlier masterpieces, but it remains compelling and thought provoking throughout. He still has the great gift of making associations that at first appear improbable but then reveals meaningful sets of correspondences.
4.0 out of 5 stars Flashes of Brilliant Writing amid Endless Ironies,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)Peace Kills is a collection of mostly previously published writing by P.J. O'Rourke as he looks at America's progression from a peace keeper under President Clinton to a democracy implanter under President Bush with an interlude as a target of terrorist violence in the United States.
Here are the sections:
Why Americans Hate Foreign Policy; Kosovo (November 1999); Israel (April 2001); 9/11 Diary; Egypt (December 2001); Nobel Sentiments; Washington, D.C. Demonstrations (April 2002); Thoughts on the Eve of War; Kuwait and Iraq (March and April 2003); and Postscript (Iwo Jima and the End of Modern Warfare).
The book is deeply skeptical about how well any human activity can succeed, whether its purpose is noble or not. Perhaps the most telling section is about ancient and modern Egypt in which Mr. O'Rourke postulates that people have always been crazy . . . with the pyramids as lasting evidence of that observation.
Most of the essays take an ironical cast. First, the official purpose of an activity is described. Second, a counter-example is presented to show the purpose is being undercut. Third, a segue-way occurs into a further irony relative to the counter-example. You have left shaking your head in wonder. These sections are most interesting when they provide local color that you didn't know before. I loved all of the examples from Egypt of the antiterrorist safeguards being ignored in favor of either religious observances or advancing tourism.
What makes the book special to me is the incredibly fine writing that shows up in each essay in explaining a complicated event and circumstance in terms of our American perspective. These are real gems and show careful rewriting. One yearns in vain for more of this type of writing in the essays . . . rather than having one more point, counter-point, segue-way example of irony.
If you already think that war doesn't make sense, you won't need this book to convince you.
But if you love fine, witty writing and don't mind slogging through too many ironic examples to find it, this book will reward you with ten or so remarkable paragraphs.
4.0 out of 5 stars Humorous Look at the World We Live In,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)If you're looking for a knee-slapping, good time description of the world today, you should look somewhere else. Actually, I don't know where you could look, in light of the times. In any event, this is a funny, light and easy to read book that examines hot zones aroung the world with a lighter perspective. Oddly enough, the author makes quite a few valid points about the foundational aspects of conflict around the world. As Americans, it would be good for us to learn that we can't solve the world's problems with the fast-food approach that we find so satisfying to apply to other aspects of life. I especially enjoyed Mr. O'Rourke's descriptions of his interaction with common people in the Middle East, since it drives home the fact that most people just want to be left alone to make a decent living; without much regard for the politics of hatred that our leaders tend to focus upon.
2.0 out of 5 stars Reflective of the Times,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)O'Rourke breaks down a Nobel laureate set of assertions by advocating the post-Reagan pan-national wisdom: 'tis better to feel good than to actually DO good...Morning in America is no-risk, baby!
Seriously, o'Rourke is basically asserting that death, the avoidance of it, the fear of it, the threat of it, must, in teh post 9/11 world, be central to our lives.
Problem is twofold. One, there are ALOT of people who think thatdeath is nowhere NEAR the worst thing that can happen to ya. Who think that there are ALOT ofthings actually worse than death, and who have actualized themselves tothe point that they cen clearly articulate those things, people and ideas for which they would be willing to die. That sensibility has been edged out by citizenship defined as the right to Road Rage on the way to getting home in time for a microwave meal and FRIENDS (or JOEY, sorry).
Two, what kind of world, and way of being in the world, springs from the social primacy of fear and the political primacy of death, when all of that is combined with the illusory expression of the American Dream through Reagan's long lens?
Well, it produces a world that encourages interlocking elites like O'Rourle to advocate the sending of the masses upon whose back they stand to give up their life in service of both the fear and the illusory sense of "American citizen" as equal to "I have the right to feel good!!!!"
The only counter to O'Rourke foolishness is intimate awareness, and moment-to-moment education, towards the end of promoting a society interested in pledging not to a flag, but to the Constitution, a society that wouldn't know the names of all the FRIENDS' characters, b/c their mind is filled with the names and votes and positions of their representatives, local to global.
In other words, Peace doesn't kill; a fundamental failure to understand what citizenship MUST mean in a democracy (or even in what we have in the States, a represenatative republic, and not a democracy) kills not only you abut everyone else. And when radical statists like the Bsuh cabal can enact nuclear petulance in the sandbox of the world, citizenship, fearless, knoweldgable and empowered, in the only countervailing force, the only other superpower.
O'Rourke's book is Kryptonite to that notion, and crippled in its ability to move anybody forward to do anyting other than fear fear itself and fear death, and beg for Hobbes' Leviathan.
5.0 out of 5 stars another wonderful selection from PJ..,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)One of the best writers out there when it comes to foreign affairs/conflicts and how our country is impacted and impacts them... His chapters on Cairo and Iraq are great....especially the description of his involvement with a US squad of soldiers assisting with the protection of the looted Iraqi museum. Last chapter on Iwo Jima was very powerful ---- pus the Iraqi conflict into perspective...."Losers fly planes into buildings, winners have an Air Force".
5.0 out of 5 stars A thinking persons writer,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)Not only is this collection of pieces he has written fun to read but O'Rourke is probably the only chauvinistic writer I utterly enjoy reading. I also appreciate that he dislikes GWB's stumbles as much as I do, which makes him damn fair when it comes to Republican leaning writers. And I laugh when he talks about how war for Americans and American kids is often the only way they learn geography. He isn't easy on the 'average' American which I applaud. He has a wonderful way of incorporating the 'dumbed down' American state of affairs into his first hand adventures.
And if you get the chance to ever catch him speaking on C-Spans Booknotes you will not be disappointed and may well spend some hard earned dollars ordering the VHS tape of the show, if you are to lazy to record it.
And I agree 100% with Amazon.com reviewer rexferal from Grand Junction, CO who notes ' Less bitter than Ann Coulter, far funnier than Al Franken, this is a book with an eye for the absurd that has chosen to laugh rather than to cry'. And as others have noted do a google.com search for his pieces in both Rolling Stone and The Atlantic publications.
5.0 out of 5 stars I Like the Places I Write About,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)"I like the places I write about. I enjoy the people. I have had a good time where ever I've
gone, Iraq included. My subject in a way is pleasure. This is a book about pleasantness which is why I have dedicated it to Mike Kelly", so says PJ O'Rourke in his new book "Peace Kills: America's New Imperialism. Mike Kelly was the editor of "The Atlantic" until he was killed in an accident in Iraq. Mike Kelly is the kind of person you want as a friend, funny, irreverent, kind, a family man who adored his wife and children- sounds like P.J.O'Rourke as a matter of fact.
I have adored P. J. O'Rourke for several years. P.J. O'Rourke is an admitted Libertarian, as am I. P. J. lives in New England, he moved here after 9-11. He found the kind of simple life he wanted for his family and himself. but, he also has a home in the city, Washington, D.C. so he meet and greet old friends and do his job as a writer/reporter. P.J. also appears on NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" on a semi-regular basis. All in all a man to be admired.
In this new book, he has put together some of his articles from "The Atlantic" and "The Wall Street Journal". He talks about the start of the Iraq War. He was in Kuwait and was awakened by his wife in the US who called to tell him the war had started. He finally arrives in Baghdad and as he visits one of Saddam's palaces he says "If a reason for invading Iraq was needed, felony interior decorating would have sufficed." Now, do you understand why I love this guy's wit? He goes on to discuss his visit to Kosovo and Israel after 9-11. But the largest portion of the book is devoted to Iraq and Kuwait. He bargains with a local for a case of beer starting at $20 and ended up paying $24.50. What a country! He concludes that we will never have Peace but we will have a war where we talk about our soldiers we can say "They are our Heroes".
P.J. O'Rourke is never dull. I search for his articles in "The Atlantic" first- they are always informative, entertaining and irreverent. This is my kind of book. He doesn't clear up my confusion but then, it's mine, anyway. prisrob.
4.0 out of 5 stars Peace kills, but this book doesn't,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)This, PJ's latest, (...) a grab-bag of vaguely-connected pieces dealing with essentially the same theme (Give War A Chance). As such, it is a nice snapshot of the time, but doesn't give much in the way of lasting significance.
The travelogues to Israel and Egypt are among O'Rourke's finest foreign-correspondent pieces, but the brief look at why we went to war with Iraq seems facile and uninvolving. It may just be that I disagree with O'Rourke over the necessity of this war, but I didn't find his own criteria for why we did all that convincing. The trip through Kuwait and Iraq is illuminating in its portrait of the war some time before it really turned into a bloodshed, but offers little in the way of more than a cultural snapshot.
I think the chapter dealing with the anti-war protestors is a bit mixed. The war the protesters were up in arms against was Afghanistan, not Iraq, so I side with PJ on that one being the right war to engage in. But O'Rourke's overall dismissal of the protesters smacks of the same narrow-minded logic that disassociates most Republican pundits from the mainstream of American thought. If O'Rourke feels the protestors are wasting their time, he can't really offer much alternative to dispute their inherent views on the meaninglessness of war.
That being said, it's still an enjoyable read: The humor is crackling, and O'Rourke lets in trademark comments about how utterly stupid war is to balance out what I found as T.R.W.A.D. (Typical Republican Whining About Dissent - feel free to use that anytime). The last chapter on Iwo Jima deals with the utter senselessness of either side's will to hold or take the island. It's a sobering thought, considering what so many died for amounts to a less-than-paradisical island with little in the way of natural beauty.
Overall, I liked this book pretty well, even though I disagreed totally with O'Rourke's rationalizations for the crisis in Iraq. It's really up to the individual reader to determine where they stand on that issue, but it shouldn't take away from anyone's ability to enjoy this book in total. Four stars due to the haphazard way it was put together (would have worked better as a cohesive treatise on the modern state of warfare, post-9/11), and because it's over far too soon.
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright.... I guess so....,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)I gotta give PJ 3 stars, as I used to be a big fan. Now that I know something, he's not as funny. It's harder to be funny from the right, or from the top... and in "Peace Kills" it doesn't work so well for me. Now that I think back, PJ's style could be summed up as "I wonder what the poor people are doing? Heh heh." That angle provided a boost when I was a little twerp, and somehow still thought the left was a dominant threat, and the right-wing an embattled minority. But time tells me otherwise... so PJ doesn't ring as true (to me) now. Tip o' the hat to PJ, though, as he still handles his hippie to conserative transition with a cool unseen in so many neocons. (Say, for example, David - stop foaming - Horowitz!!!).
I first saw PJ on Letterman years ago, and was amazed at how shaken he was. On more recent TV appearences, PJ is pleasant, if not the confident aggressor/prankster/wisecracker in print. But, I guess a lot of folks are like that. I mean, if PJ lost confidence with the right, he'd tell us... or would he?!! Who knows. 3 stars because PJ is "good people," injects humor (and often depth!)into world affairs, and he has the Irish gene for good storytelling.
1.0 out of 5 stars Funny as a lead cloud,
This review is from: Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism (Hardcover)How does O'Rourke get away with publishing these painfully macho & hugely unfunny pieces? He reminds me of the guy at the party you didn't want to go to but went because of some social obligation - he's the one wearing a green blazer & plaid pants, a highball in his fist, carrying on...& on...& on ... about some banal escapade on the golf course or in the conference room & he's surrounded by a bevy of sycophants wearing frozen grins & gripping empty glasses. (Shudder).
He & David Brooks are what swore me off the Atlantic Monthly. It was like drinking whiskey sours & prune juice. (Double-shudder).
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Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism by P. J. O'Rourke (Hardcover - April 27 2004)
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