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What's Left?: How the Left Lost its Way Paperback – Oct 1 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Updated ed. edition (Oct. 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007229704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007229703
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 281 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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'A roaring polemic of outrage against the moral and political crisis of the liberal tradition. It is already one of the most discussed current affairs books of the new year…At the very least it forces anyone on the left to think carefully about where their movement has ended up in the modern world.' The Guardian

‘The book is a superbly sustained polemic.' Sunday Times

‘Exceptional and necessary…Do not feel you have to be a leftist or liberal to read it, because it engages with an argument that it crucial for all of us, and for our time.’ Christopher Hitchens, Sunday Times

‘This is a brave, honest and brilliant book. Every page has a provocative insight that makes you want to shake the author's hand or collar him for an argument. Who could ask for more?’ The Observer

'(He writes with) a genuine passion and human sympathy about people who have experienced appalling suffering.' Michael Burleigh, The Evening Standard

‘Undoubtedly controversial and provocative “What’s Left?” is, as its title suggests, a bleakly witty but perhaps dimly hopeful examination of what it means to be liberal in an age where the lines that have been drawn in the sand are in danger of being washed away.’ Waterstones Books Quarterly

‘One of the most powerful denunciations of the manner in which the Left has lost its way…Cohen's is a brave voice.'
Michael Gove, The Spectator

'Nick Cohen explains how contemporary liberals have lost their way with his usual polemical brio.' The Observer

'An essay of wide reference and great brilliance.' John Lloyd, Financial Times

About the Author

Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer, The New Statesman and The Evening Standard. In his Channel Four documentaries and general media appearances, he has proved himself to be the witty and excoriating voice of the left. He commands a loyal readership, as his groaning weekly postbag attests. He is the author of two books. ‘Cruel Britannia: Reports on the Sinister and the Preposterous’, a collection of his journalism, was published by Verso in 1999 and ‘Pretty Straight Guys’, a dissection of the Blair leadership.

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By Peter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 26 2007
Format: Paperback
In this fascinating book, Cohen tries to find answers to why the world is upside down, why liberals and leftists are nowadays more likely than conservatives to excuse fascist movements and governments. With the exception of their native western far-right parties, they embrace all foreign oppressive governments as long as these oppose the West. The author argues that the death of communism has brought a dark liberation to those who consider themselves on the left; they are now free to champion any totalitarian group that is anti-western and anti-American. This mindset is particularly prevalent amongst the intellectuals and the mass media, as also documented in Can We Trust The BBC by Robin Aitken.

Third world democrats, feminists and liberals have been betrayed by those who so style themselves in the West. The fall of communism and the disappearance of a coherent set of principles have liberated Western leftists into a kind of nihilism that is akin to modern consumerism. Now you can pick your issue du jour from an anti-Western smorgasbord. Cohen chronicles the etiology of the disease - how it started with postmodern theorists and obscure fringe groups, entered the mainstream and led to the failure of left-liberals to confront genocide in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Middle East until it grew into an all-consuming fever. He also attempts to salvage the best of the liberal-left's internationalist and democratic traditions. In this regard, please consult A Matter of Principle edited by Thomas Cushman.

The author chronicles these developments in part by telling the story of Iraqi human rights campaigner Kanan Makiya who exposed Saddam's atrocities in the book Republic of Fear and was later shunned by his former so-called comrades.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written and entertaining as hell, but as with most books it's best if you already have some knowledge on the subject matter. He covers a lot of ground and has quite a lot to say (much of it non-flattering) about many of the most notorious leftards of the day, as well as skewering quite a number of folks on the right in the process. That's fair. If you don't already know what despicable little trolls the likes of George Galloway and Noam Chomksy are, then this book is definitely worth a read. As for myself, there was not much in here that I didn't already know, but I enjoyed the way he put it. For the most part............

I suppose the fact that this book is written by an avowed lefty tells me that he is at least trying very much to be honest to the best of his ability, and that is a plus. Honesty does not necessitate knowing fully what one is talking about. He breezily alludes to a number of historical and economic 'facts' which I know quite matter-of-factly to be rubbish. Widely accepted by the left of course, but rubbish nonetheless. For all his talk of fairness and honesty, when the topic vears to Israel he reflexively alludes to the same garbage that Islamists and anti-Semites have been spouting for decades. I suppose for a lefty, it's almost a Pavlovian response, such as spitting whenever the name Bush is mentioned or swooning over Obama's glistening torso.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Post-modernism must die! June 27 2016
By beermepodcast - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very deep treatise on the roots and thinking of a very backwards political movement that has come to define progressive politics (really it's totalitarian, regressive politics - think of the political spectrum as a horseshoe and watch as the far left starts bending around toward the far right) and what we can do to stop it. You'll scratch your head and gasp in horror at the examples of regressive thinking and how someone who's well-meaning can get things so damned wrong.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth Can Be Redeeming Jan. 14 2008
By Robert J. Pruger - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nicholas Cohen has done one of the most difficult things a writer or journalist can do, truthfully examine the motives and actions of a group with which he intently identifies. Mr. Cohen was born and raised in the socialist (left) tradition. And he has found the "left" (Red Ken, Oliver Stone, Vanessa Redgrave and a host of others) corrupting and debasing their own beliefs.

Mr. Cohen writes very succinctly, avoids over dramatization and his book is chock full of specific examples. His tone is a mixture of sadness and surprise that the "left" has reduced itself to supporting military, fascist dictatorships as long as they oppose the U.S. and most specifically President Bush. Occasionally, to be true to his roots, he descends into polemics of the uncaring "right" or its inability to see injustice. It's probably too much to expect him to divest himself of such language. But most importantly, he doesn't lose sight of his subject and takes deadly aim at the "left's" enormous moral failings and that they have turned themselves quite clearly into what they claim they most oppose -- facists.

This book is eminently readable. Anyone who wants to understand, from an insider's point of view, how they found themselves in this moral quagmire would do well to read this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone ought to read this Oct. 16 2016
By Duriel - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Citizens on the left and right alike need desperately to read and understand this work. Sweep away your illusions and make principled and hard-nosed judgements. This is a work critical of people who have an opportunity yet to correct their failings.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a call to action March 6 2007
By Inna Tysoe - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nick Cohen's argument is (in one sense) a simple one. Once upon a time, the Left championed all the right causes: women's rights, free speech, universal education, human rights, unions, solidarity with the oppressed, amongst others. And it championed those causes on behalf of the working class which the Left (largely composed of middle-class intellectuals) romanticized on the one hand and despised on the other. And then the working class got all these rights and all this education and all these opportunities but didn't support all the causes the (middle class liberals) of the Left wanted the working class to support. And in their disappointment and defeat, the middle class liberals cast about for new heroes to romanticize. They found them in the fascists of Third World countries who claimed to be revolutionaries (well, they were and are against the established order anyway) and who declared themselves to be for the people (of a certain culture and religion).

The privileged of the West, in other words, found solace in identity politics which led them to support of fascism. And this, in turn, led them to identify those who support fascism with the Left.

A simple argument, as I have said. But this book (which is so rich and so filled with wonderful anecdotes--from professorial mumbo jumbo to Hamas' Charter) is much more than a mere argument. It is a call to action. For this wonderful book ends by pointing out that a group of "politically aware citizens" who were not "intellectual celebrities" met at a pub in Euston to draw up a manifesto spelling out what the Left truly is. And that, by restating what should have been obvious (but wasn't) these men and women found a way to make a difference. Because they did not abandon the effort, the hope, the principles of the Left.

Just as Nick Cohen hopes (and hope is the last word in this book) that he has made a difference with his book. So now it's your turn and mine. What do you say?
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 30 2016
By Science Lover - Published on
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