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Earl Hazell (New York)

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The Scars of Evolution
The Scars of Evolution
by Elaine Morgan
Edition: Paperback
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pt. Galileo, pt. Coltrane; Anthro's paradigm shifter riffs, Jan. 29 2003
This review is from: The Scars of Evolution (Paperback)
"A very high proportion of thinking on these topics is androcentric (male centered) in the same way as pre-Copernican thinking was geocentric. It's just as hard for man to break the habit of thinking of himself as central to the species as it was to break the habit of thinking of himself as central to the universe...
"...I believe these are the 'circumstances special to the point of 'disbelief' which explain how an anthropoid began to turn into a hominid....Many features carelessly described as 'unique' in human beings are unique only in land mammals. For most of them, as we shall see, as soon as we begin to look at AQUATIC mammals, we shall find parallels galore."
Elaine Morgan
Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about Elaine Morgan's work is her serene confidence in the theory she popularizes. If her entire raison d'Etre theory of the Aquatic Ape were disproven tomorrow, you san tell that she, unlike many whose theories are more based in the mythology of socio-political circular reasoning, would be okay with it. You can tell she embraces the transcultural, translogical--transcendant--metaphor that is the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis; the definitve rightness and beauty of it in terms of a profound truth that it points to, above and beyond what it is.
Alice Miller, whom I call the Galileo of Psychoanalysis, writes from her perspective the way Coltrane played a Broadway show tune or Bird played the Blues. She is clearly enjoying her subject; clearly believeing in the healing power of her craft; clearly knowing an other-worldly relevance permeates each book and each elocuted idea within it... and each completed work of hers grows, like the halo over Christ in all the movies made referring to his ascension, with each riff calling to a pre-existing but perhaps uncreated world of the ultimate reality. Like what one of Bach's fugues does to our concept of music, you know these ideas are coming from a source redefining the subject or craft in which they have arrived. Elaine Morgan shares this gift with Alice Miller to such a degree that, like Miller, she redeems her scientific discpline by reinvigorating the quasi-sacred mission statement that gave it meaning: *construct the ultimate mirror of who we are*. In other words, like a great jazz musician or modern artist, she achieves the sacred paradox of both artistic innovators and great scientists: she gracefully bows to the traditions of her predecessors by intellectually leaping beyond them.
The very idea that a paradigm shift in thinking so fundamental could take place in anthropology is still hard to conceive for the general public, who nonetheless finds the watered down mythology of many fundamental anthropological theories often comical. Just the same, the paradigm shift from the Savannah Hypothesis of human evolution to the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis--mankind's most important stage of evolution taking place not by a willful choice to hunt in the dry hot sun, but by an uncontrollable eons-long immersion into the sea--is currently the only one in existence in anthropology that can change our concept of everything to do with being human. Not even sociobiology can say this. It as simply the most logical theory not only reveals the subconscious Judeo-Christian and patriarchal biases inherent in the science of 20th century anthropology with its placing of man-the-hunter over woman as the central paradigm, but allows for a shift away from "androcentric" thinking completely, allowing us to understand humankind tremendously better through the evolution of women and children on an uncontrollable, ever-evolving planet.
The fact that the theories of her heroes have been all but ignored for close to half a century regarding the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis you can tell gives her cause to celebrate them that much more. But in the end you can tell it is its overwhelming logic that obviously inspires her more than anything. She makes this so clear in her writing style that her books become fun to read.
THE SCARS OF EVOLUTION explains many of the things about being human that simply shouldn't exist or do not make any sense regarding the anthropological theory of man evolving out of the hot, dry, hunting ground savannahs of central Africa. The revealing of the degree to which the Savannah hypothesis is modern mythology (by virtue of its often ignored and often defiantly supported scientific and intellectual inconsistencies) is the central mind blower which is enough to buy the book. She does however go further from there, and explains things as innocuous as acne and bad backs as being a clue to the actually unsolved mystery of our origins. Elaine Morgan does it with such confidence and grace in fact that she doesn't need to dress her book up with the kind of academia language that would make reading it impossible for the average person. She knows how to zero in on some key aspects of being human in such a way that they prove her thesis and structure her narrative in a way that is both entertaing and truly enlightening.
Morgan makes it virtually impossible not to believe in the Aquatic origins of the human animal--which gives a whole new meaning to the concept of the human spirit. But even to the degree the Aquatic Ape theory may still be considered open to question, she makes it so clear that truth is not static but growing, self evolving and tranformative that you become awakened to the continued hunt of something that has never been totally caught: self-knowledge.
THE SCARS OF EVOLUTION is a wonderful introduction to her work and thirty years of ideas, and those of her predecessors.

Up from Conservatism
Up from Conservatism
by Michael Lind
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Anatomy of American Politics 101, with Dr. Lind, Jan. 29 2003
This review is from: Up from Conservatism (Paperback)
"The Republicans have a problem. The economic program of American Conservatives, if enacted in its entirety, would devastate the middle class while helping the American overclass. Income would be redistributed upward, while taxes would be redistributed downward.... How can conservatives expect to win votes for an economic program so inimical to the middle class? The answer is they cannot--and they know it. Therefore, most conservative ideologues... have done their best to change the subject from the economy to what they like to call, 'the culture'..."
Michael Lind
From Chapter Five, "Whistling Dixie"
My copy of this book is looking more and more as if I am studying for a final exam based on its contents; every other paragraph of every chapter is a ten-megaton bomb of an aphorism worth quoting.
"Perhaps however, my statement of the problem is mistaken. The question was, 'Why have there been no world-class American conservative intellectuals?' when it should have been "Why are there so FEW American conservative intellectuals [emphasis mine]?" By intellectuals I do not mean propagandists or causists, who provide the party faithful with the party line on the subjects of the day. I mean independent thinkers, who may be "conservative" or "liberal" or "libertarian" or "socialist" in terms of their basic principles, but who are free to draw their own conclusions without looking over their shoulders and fearing punishment for heterodoxy..."
"If further proof is needed for my contention that much of today's conservative political theory is merely Marxism with the substitution of "bourgeois" for "proletariat" and "culture" for "class," it can be found in Joyce's call for enlisting art and literature in the service of Republican conservatism, a program that is indistinguishable, except in its content, from the aesthetic orthodoxy of American communities during the 1920's and 1930's...the literary and artistic techniques used by communists and fascists alike would be adopted to disseminate conservative ideology...For the time being, it seems, Americans will have to be content with the work of conservative public policy intellectuals."
From Chapter 3: "The Triangular Trade: How the Conservative Movement Works"
Michael Lind's detailed analysis of the overall psyche and political agenda of the power brokers of the Conservative movement in modern America is beyond prescient, beyond clear--and beyond frightening. It's also beyond superlatives.
"The resemblance between Marxism and the classical liberal economic utopianism of the American right is a family resemblance. Marxism and free-market fundamentalism are squabbling twins, the offspring of the Enlightenment's naive belief in inevitable progress.... In the former communist countries, the high priests of economic dogma were the Marxist dialecticians; in the United States and Britain (though not in Japan or continental Europe), neoclassical economists serve as guardians of the orthodoxy, promising "scientific" approaches to economic progress...Today's American conservatives, however, have adopted free-market fundamentalism, in its crudest forms, as their political religion."
From Chapter Ten: "Soaking the Middle: The Conservative Class War Against Wage-earning Americans"
"American conservatism, then, is a countercommunism that replicates, down to rather precise details of organization and theory, the communism that it opposes..."
Chapter Ten
Soaking the Middle: The Conservative Class War Against Wage-Earning Americans
What Alice Miller is to psychology, Michael Lind has become to American Politics.
Michael Lind's UP FROM CONSERVATISM uncovers the intellectual nerve center and primitive philosophical foundation for much of the dialectical arguments about virtually anything in culture today on both sides of the political fence, from the validity of Afrocentrism to the very existence of privacy and independent thought in our increasingly technologically fascist modern society--and the consequences of their gradual disappearance.
"...Today, having hijacked the Republican Party, [the leaders of the Conservative Right have become] 'radicals', seeking, in alliance with multinational corporate elite, to dismantle the New Deal [of FDR] and to impose their peculiar "New South" vision of the United States as a low wage, low tax, low regulation economy in which economic segregation replaces formal legal segregation not merely in their native region but in the country as a whole."
From Chapter Five: "Whistling Dixie"
This book is to the future of American politics and culture what Martin Luther's original Theses, nailed to the cathedral walls in the 17th century is to the history of Protestantism.
"The parallel between [anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist of the 1930's Father] Coughlin and [Pat] Robertson breaks down in one respect to be sure: Father Coughlin was soon silenced by the Catholic Church and politically disgraced. Robertson, after expressing almost indistinguishable views in almost identical language, continues to be defended by conservative intellectuals, including the leading Jewish conservatives... a leading conservative editor with whom I was...on cordial terms...replied: 'Of course [i.e. The Christian Coalition]'re mad, but we need their votes.'"
With all the irony of Shakespeare and the fright power of Stephen King, it reads like the perfect combination of a masterfully written textbook and a beautifully crafted novel. This is clear cut political and cultural analysis at its finest, with brilliant, erudite ideas expressed in the most common sense language. A truly important book.

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated
Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Paperback
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4.0 out of 5 stars Yoda speaks...are the Jedis listening?, Jan. 21 2003
"...Even so, Mr. President Elect, there is an off chance that you might actually make some difference if you start now to rein in the warlords. Reduce military spending, which will make you popular because you can then legitimately reduce our taxes instead of doing what you have been financed to do, freeing corporate America of its small tax burden."
Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal would not be Gore Vidal if he left the topic of this book at merely proving the more than 200 instances of United States "pre-emptive strike" military incursions that have taken place since the end of World War Two, proving the existence of the philosophy in the Pentagon that is sarcastically referred to by the title of the book. Vidal traces the dangerous link between Timothy Mcveigh and Osama bin Laden to moral anamolies in American foreign and domestic policy in much the same way one could trace the otherwise unrelated illnesses of heart disease and lung cancer to cigarette smoking. In so doing he demands us, whether or not we come to the same conclusions, to look at our own cultural selves and our country's leaders with new eyes: the eyes of much of the rest of the world.
Vidal is often too postmodern for his own good. As he approaches his late seventies (he is the author of twenty-two novels, tons of essays, plays and screenplays and was one of President Kennedy's best friends) his all too self-conscious "ascerbic wit" has begun to have a harder than necessary edge to it. You can almost see how the conversations he is writing for us have really become conversations he is having with himself, in the way a wise old man, slowly but inexplicably driving to Curmudgeonville after giving up on his audience or would-be students ever getting a clue would do. Yet the pearls of wisdom that thread through both this work and his infinitely insightful mind makes the book immeasurably important, and go a lot further in explainnig the souce of both his cynicism and the repressed, near uncontrollable passion he has for his country.
Something is missing in America today, something deeply important for the American soul. When that thing is concentrated or exaggerated to the point of absurdity in an individual (in inverse proportion to its absence in the culture) it produces the actions of the men who form the subject of several of his essays. But the value of this unnamed thing--and the fact that it is missing from our culture in areas where it is needed: our relationship with the non-rich world in and outside of our boundaries--comes clear with every page. That is the magic of great writers: making something invisible felt between every written word.
Vidal is a master whose talent nor reputation have ever been overstated. This book, which shockingly though unfortunately understandably could not be published in America when it was first written, is another of his gifts to the country he loves so much.

Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate
Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate
by Bob Woodward
Edition: Paperback
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4.0 out of 5 stars An important bridging of common sense psychology & politics, Jan. 17 2003
The first line in Micahel Lind's deeply provocative treatise on the modern American conservative movement UP FROM CONSERVATISM kicks you in the stomach, regardless of your political beliefs:"American Conservatism is dead." Like the political Nietzsche he is, Bob Woodward, in SHADOW: FIVE PRESIDENTS AND THE LEGACY OF WATERGATE, finishes that statement in this 500-plus page tome by saying, essentially, "...and Nixon has killed it."
None other than Gore Vidal has nicknamed America the *United States of Amnesia* so often that the trueness of it stops it from being funny. Yet any psychologist worth their salt will tell you the many reasons why memory, in a person or culture, is often the first thing to be EXORCISED. It isn't always something that leaves willingly. Bob Woodward brings common sense psychology--memory--back into the discussion of what has happened to the presidency, and America's relationship to it, since the quasi-psychotic Nixon disgraced it in the early 1970's. He reveals this with SHADOW, not by calling out and judging the Nixonians from the perspective of opinion, but via showing and analysing actual history. The degree to which the entire concept and institution of the American Presidency has been almost irrevocably debilitated by Watergate is the subject of this book, and it cannot be ignored in our time after reading it. In revealing the new cynically invasive psychic architecture of American politics, built on the destroyed remnants of the trusted Tao of FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, LBJ and Kennedy, he offers a glimpse of what Watergate symbolized about Nixon's soul. And what that tortured soul has meant for American culture today, in the 21st century.
Doing this not only puts Monica Lewinsky into a less mythological perspective. It also puts all of the machinations that now go into politicking for your right to actually BE President long after you have been elected--Republican or Democrat--into a new, important, and ultimately saddening perspective. (The degree to which her very existence in the public mind is shown to be part of a desire of Clinton's powerful enemies to erase Nixon's legacy from the annals of history with the impeachment of a Democratic President is brilliant. That omen is ironically overshadowed, however, by the way he explains the uncontrollable political Frankenstein that was the Office of Independent Counsel. This evil genie, with its granted near absolute power, is what Clinton let out of the bottle; a bottle that, after Watergate, was thought never to be opened again. Without it, the reincarnation of the Salem witch trials with Kenneth Starr and the pornography of his reports would never have occurred.)
I happened to have picked up this book to read after reading Conason and Lyons' THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT--something which truly must be read in tandem with this if one is to really understand the social forces that also took center stage in the Clinton drama, despite their desire to still remain hidden. As such I found the Clinton chapters of SHADOW a rehash of previously digested material. SHADOW nonetheless, with its detailed meticulous analyses of the weaknesses and foibles of Ford, Carter, Regan, Bush and Clinton, and how these weaknesses became debilitating through the sins of their Watergate predecessor Nixon, cuts to the quick of our social consciousness today.
It is so important, it seems, for the American public not to have a historical perspective on anything that happens in politics. As if the pretense that all of it has no precedence somehow makes it more real or important--or worse, justifies an often hypocritically manufactured moral outrage. (I'll never forget the rage Clinton-haters would express at the mere mentioning of Sally Hemmings [Thomas Jefferson's slave mistress], Judith Exner [one of Kennedy's mistresses] or the broken first marriages of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, seemingly defending their right to believe Bill and Monica had ushered in the seventh sign of the Book of Revelations with their original sin.) Woodward's SHADOW destroys any validity that way of thinking had, and redefines the desire to be willfully politically/historically ignorant (as if ignorance buys someone moral virtue) as anything but sane. The book has a way of revalidating the entire concept and discipline of psychology, and its ability to explain the source of today's events, as it gives new strength to the battle weary line of Santayana: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Anyone interested in a deeper perspective on the Clinton presidency, the presidency of both Bushes, and modern American culture would highly benefit from this powerful trinity: Michael Lind's UP FROM CONSERVATISM, Conason and Lyons' THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT, and this book. Woodward's SHADOW is extraordinarily well written, tremendously informative, and, even with its inevitable biases both in favor of journalism as it is presently practiced (Consaon and Lyons are fortunately not so kind--particularly to the Washington Post) and against the possibility of a president after Nixon inspiring the kind of faith and hope that those like FDR and Kennedy did (though he is almost right, Conason, Lyons and Lind will explain clearly why it could have happened but would not be allowed in Clinton's case), Woodward's masterful writing and storytelling skills hide a multitude of sins. Highly recommended.

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton
The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton
by Gene Lyons
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.00
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5.0 out of 5 stars Real politik, Jan. 15 2003
"The Republicans have a problem...How can conservatives expect to win votes for an economic program so inimical to the middle class? The answer is they cannot--and they know it. Therefore most conservative ideologues have done their best to change the subject from the economy to what they like to call 'the culture'...Both race-baiting and the [sexual] politics of family values are part of the same Republican culture war strategy of diverting the anger of the white working class from the owners and operators of the Republican party--the corporate and hereditary rich--and focusing wrath on unpopular minorites..."
"Supply-side economics, the myth of public school failure, and the illegitimacy-epidemic hoax are on the the tip of the iceberg. Other examples of the dissemination of half-truths and falsehoods by the foundation subsidized conservative intelligentsia...are not difficult to find...
...The consevative disinformation apparatus went to work again, to prevent President Clinton's plan to provide health care coverage for all Americans from ever coming to a vote. Clinton's plan would have been the most conservative, pro-business version of universal health insurance in any western democracy. Nevertheless conservatives were desperate to stop it, in order to deny the Democrats a political victory. The cynical reasonsing of Republican strategists was spelled out by Irving Kristol's son William: 'It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests...'"
Michael Lind
From Chapter Seven: Three Conservative Hoaxes and Chapter Six: Whistling Dixie

"From the beginning, his enemies portrayed Clinton as unworthy to occupy the office of President of the United States. This assessment held firm despite his acknowledged intellect, industriousness, and charm, and also despite the fact that by almost every statistical measure, the American people and their government were in far better condition by 1999 than when the Arkansan took office in 1993..."
From the Preface

THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT is based on what actually happened during the years of the Clinton ascendancy, from his governorship of Arkansas to becoming "First in his Class", one of the most popular American presidents of the 20th century. It is also, by default, a psychological anatomy lesson on the banal ugliness of human nature as it has been exemplified and exposed via both Clinton's enemies and those who sought to profit from his distress and stress-induced foibles. Politically, this book proves without question that an American Jihad by one party waged on another has taken precedence in American politics for virtually all of the late 20th century, over and above any concerns for the American public. Psychologically, it is practically a confirmation of the effect of child abuse on the body politic and the human soul. The themes (among others) of envy, opportunism, the obsession with power and the power of deep-seated lonliness reverberate through the hidden stories of everyone of Clinton's enemies, from the "bimbo eruptions" of women paid to lie about affairs with Clinton in Little Rock, to the majorest of major players in Washington and every stop in between--including religious cults in Korea. Most importantly however, THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT is based in its majority on the legal documents and court proceedings that formed the basis of the cases against Clinton--much of which was never consistently reported in the major newspapers or CNN (for which the only logical reasons, though pretty frightening, are given by the award-winning journalist authors). For this alone, and by this alone, the book is an incredible experience.
"Clinton's lawyers walked Gennifer Flowers through a detailed accounting of every dollar she had banked as a result of going public about her alleged twelve-year affair with the president. The total came to more than $500,000. As in her two books, however, Flowers was unable in hours of cross-examination to specify a single time and place where she and Clinton had ever been alone together. After claiming to have shacked up with him in several Little Rock hotels, for example, she was unable to name one."
From Chapter Sixteen, "The Bastard Should be Exposed"
This book is profoundly important for an understanding of modern American history and the soul of American society. It is also so masterfully written by Conason and Lyons that, despite how dry and rhetorically partisan it could have come off, it is fair, meticulous and reads like a novel. Truth, once again, is stranger than fiction.

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton
The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton
by Gene Lyons
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.00
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5.0 out of 5 stars Journalism at its finest; corrective history at its best, Jan. 5 2003
"While [Freudian psychologist Melanie] Klein's theory essentially deals with [the emotional dynamics of] the first year of life, I feel she also explains much of our loveless and destructive world. In greed for ever more power, lovers and leaders alike destroy what once fed them...How much easier to say the other is wrong, is the persecutor; to shore up these defenses with even shriller accusations and faultfinding..."
Nancy Friday
"When people give up the truth as they see it for the sake of an ideology, however, they then, regardless of the reasons that made them do it, defend the ideology from attack by the next generation with every means at their disposal. If they did not, they would be forced to face the tragic dimensions of their own loss."
Alice Miller
"After Watergate, I never expected another impeachment investigation of a president in my lifetime, let alone an actual impeachment and a Senate trial. Nixon's successors, I thought, would recognize the price of scandal and learn the two fundamental lessons of Watergate. First...release the early and completely as possible. Second, do not allow outside harden into a permanent state of suspicion and warfare.... As successors to George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt, [American Presidents] expect to rule. But after Vietnam and Watergate, the modern presidency has been limited and diminished...the [post-Watergate] presidents, in frustration, have been in rebellion."
Bob Woodward
"Had Linda Tripp known Lucianne Goldberg a little better, she might have known that the literary agent was taping their conversation.... Politically she was a hard-bitten conservative of Nixonian vintage, with the same inclination to fight dirty that had always identified the late disgraced President and his circle...
"[Editor of The American Spectator] Bob Tyrell's satire relied heavily, as always, on the metaphor of Watergate.... Unoriginal, certainly, but no doubt satisfying to the Washington conservatives who had yearned so long to avenge Nixon."
Joe Conason and Gene Lyons
From Chapter Fifteen: "Impeachment for Fun and Profit"
In this, the second year of what undoubtedly would have been the Gore presidency in a "kinder, gentler" America, we are left never knowing many things. My generation will probably never know what Universal Health Care looks like in the United States of America. (Much the same way the pre-FDR generation or the pre-LBJ generation could only speculate what good Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Civil Rights legislation would do for the country.) We will probably never know how much, if at all, the Clintons are actually in love with each other, and love each other still. We may never know in our lifetimes if partisan political wars between the two parties will ever be less important to our political and financial leaders than the state of our nation at any given time. (This book proves without question that an American Jihad by one party waged on another has taken precedence in American politics for virtually all of the late 20th century.) But thanks to Joe Conason and Gene Lyons and this book, THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT, we do know a few important things:
1) The Whitewater Investigation was a hoax
2) The institution of the Media in our time is the fourth branch of government in America; not liberally biased as some would attest but drunk with power and almost hopelessly corrupt to its core
3) President William Jefferson Clinton was a flawed alpha male, but, nonetheless, a genius; and
4) The moral compass of the American Intuition, which smelled all of the goings-on as documented in this book, reelected him in a landslide and raised his popularity in the polls to unprecedented levels *during the impeachment process,* can still be trusted.
"From the beginning, his enemies portrayed Clinton as unworthy to occupy the office of President of the United States. This assessment held firm despite his acknowledged intellect, industriousness, and charm, and also despite the fact that by almost every statistical measure, the American people and their government were in far better condition by 1999 than when the Arkansan took office in 1993."
From the Preface
This book is based on what actually happened during the years of the Clinton ascendancy, from his governorship of Arkansas to becoming "First in his Class"; one of the most popular presidents of the American 20th century. THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT is based in large part on the legal documents that formed the basis of the cases against Clinton. For this alone, and by this alone, the book is an incredible experience.
"Clinton's lawyers walked Gennifer Flowers through a detailed accounting of every dollar she had banked as a result of going public about her alleged twelve-year affair with the president. The total came to more than $500,000. As in her two books, however, Flowers was unable in hours of cross-examination to specify a single time and place where she and Clinton had ever been alone together. After claiming to have shacked up with him in several Little Rock hotels, for example, she was unable to name one."
From Chapter Sixteen, "The Bastard Should be Exposed"
At no time does this book become an apology for the truth of Monica Lewinsky or Clinton's sexual issues--which were no different than those of LBJ, or FDR, or Kennedy, or Horace Harding...or Lee Atwater...or (dare I say it Ms. Hemmings?) Thomas Jefferson for that matter. With the truth exposed of the absence of integrity on all sides of the political and legal fence, and the many crimes he was accused of--from the Whitewater land deal to actual murder--being exposed as out and out slanderous politically motivated lies, it doesn't have to be.
This book is profoundly important to American history and a powerful study of American society. It is also masterfully written and reads like a novel.

When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country
When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country
by G. Gordon Liddy
Edition: Hardcover
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2.0 out of 5 stars Sad, Dec 10 2002
"Most societies have some version of the Golden Age myth. (The term itself comes from the ancient Greek poet and moral philosopher Hesiod...) Once, it is said, there was a time when disorder and sin were nonexistent...children respected their elders; husbands and wives were faithful to each other...popular literature was highly intellecual, and tended to promote good character...
" recent years the intellectuals and publicists of the American Right, drawing on both Jefferson-Jackson populism and Marxism, have developed a unique synthesis of the Golden Age and devil myths. The Golden Age...ended in the 1960's, when long-haired campus radicals took over the culture..."
Michael Lind
"The Culture War and the Myth of the New Class"
"Let me control the myths of a nation and I care not who makes its laws."
Mark Twain
"All is vanity."
Fans of G. Gordon Liddy who find both his prose and history in American society something to be proud of will I'm sure enjoy this book, WHEN I WAS A KID... as much as those with an actual sense of history will find it uniquely mythological to say the least. The one thing that keeps coming to mind, however, in all his referencing of a world that was really so much less free for even a significant portion of white men than he would like to admit compared to today (let alone everyone else) is, ironically, Picasso.
Picasso, after all his travels, after all his many women, after becoming a child prodigy and then an art superstar and then one of the most powerful cultural forces of the 20th century, was photographed and interviewed often as frightened and angry in the final years of his life in the early 1970's. This was a couple of years before the Watergate Scandal, where Richard Nixon came closer to destroying American democracy than most people would like to admit today. Picasso looked that way because for a moment in time he somehow became old; not in the way that leads to beauty through wisdom, but the frightened and angry curmudgeon old that seems like a giant defense mechanism for an ancient broken heart. Regardless of how great and important his life was and how much of a contribution he became to look back on, Picasso's immense ego, still, simply, didn't want to die. Liddy's WHEN I WAS A KID seems to be so saturated with this primal fear of the self-absorbed--the legitimate fear that physical death is the end of everything and one's popular view of the self is going to die right along with the physical body--that I can't imagine it being anything but a sad book for even his fans soon after they put it down, regardless of how it makes them feel beforehand. Arguing the validity of his view of American culture and history as upheld in WHEN I WAS A KID in that context is pointless. Sadness and melancholy, the likes of which has little to nothing to do with the "politically correct" state of the USA, permeates this book with every attempt to reenergize an impotent myth of America's past that Globalization and the Information Society is killing a lot faster than the Civil Rights Movement, the Equal Rights Amendment or the fall of the Berlin wall had ever planned on.
I listen to the voice of G. Gordon Liddy occasionally on talk radio. (A friend of mine, a victim of child abuse, likes anything on talk radio that sounds threateningly authoritarian or anxiety-ladenly patriotic.) And I don't hear testosterone or conservatism or even Viagra... I hear a man fighting against coming to terms with the arc of human life. The deeply ambivalent, angry, and righteous triumphalism with which he feels so pressing a need to saturate his neo-Twainish world view with ironically becomes little more than a reminder of two facets of life that, as we must all some day face in our own way privately, would be painful for anyone to come to terms with publicly. The first is that history, not his politics or his fans or today's marketplace, will be in charge of who writes his epitaph. And two, with the writing of that epitaph, much of the funny ideas he holds dear about himself, projected on to the country he writes about, will dissipate like a puff of cigarette smoke over the Rockies. I do not agree with his politics, etc., but unlike a lot of mutually ridiculous conseravtive and liberal political mythology, WHEN I WAS A KID, a sort of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE from the Dark Side, makes me too sad to get fired up about it.

Not Out Of Africa: How ""Afrocentrism"" Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History
Not Out Of Africa: How ""Afrocentrism"" Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History
by Mary Lefkowitz
Edition: Paperback
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A perspective lacking the courage of self-reevaluation, Nov. 26 2002
"The fact that an opinion is widely held is no evidence whatsoever that it is not utterly absurd."
Bertrand Russell
Mary Lefkowitz goes on the attack against Afrocentrism in NOT OUT OF AFRICA. In so doing she outlines, according to her training (and, though it remains unquestioned, her politics) the inherent methodological weaknesses, dubious literary origins and sociological biases of the perspective.
Consider, however, the implications of Lefkowitz purposely saying little to nothing about the evolution of her own discipline in NOT OUT OF AFRICA. Then consider the implications of this more honest approach to the discipline of anthropology and its evolution by Elaine Morgan within her book THE SCARS OF EVOLUTION: "Darwin had predicted that the birthplace of our species would be found in Africa, but for a long time there was a peculiar reluctance, even among Darwinians, to follow up that lead. [19th and early 20th Century anthropologists] were not comfortable with it; they were seeking the origins of the lords of creation, and that conjured up a specific image in their minds. We cannot afford to be patronizing about this. Even today, when an illustrator is asked to draw a progressive line of creatures beginning with an ape, growing steadily more erect and intelligent, and ending with a human being, you can be fairly certain that the human being at the end of the line will be male, adult, and white." This candid report of the inherent biases apparent in the entirety of modern European/American scholarship cast a blanket of question marks over the ironically titled NOT OUT OF AFRICA, where Lefkowitz seems to be saying nothing but exclamation points of truth exist in it.
Note also these words, not from an Afrocentrist, but the ancient Metrologist and scientist Dr. Livio Stecchini, former Professor at MIT, in his book, THE HISTORY OF MEASURES, regarding the sharing of his work with Classical scholars in the 1940s: "...To be more exact I should say that the criticism [against his thesis on the measurement principles of ancient Greece and their derivation from the more ancient Egyptian and Assyrian civilizations] was epistemological: it was a matter of deciding whether the Greeks or any other human beings could have thought the way I described...In this field [metrology: the scientific study of ancient measures] ONE CAN RELY ON EVIDENCE MORE RELIABLE THAN THAT USUALLY AVAILABLE IN ANCIENT SCHOLARSHIP, and as a result there is substantial agreement among specialists about all essential points; BUT OTHER SCHOLARS REFUSE TO ACCEPT THE CONCLUSIONS DRAWN FROM THE EVIDENCE BECAUSE THESE DO NOT SUIT THEIR WAY OF THINKING (emphasis mine)." The entire discipline of Metrology since that time has been totally ostracized from the University to avoid today's Classical scholarship--like Lefkowitz of NOT OUT OF AFRICA--from having to deal with its findings at all.
Taking the stated raison d'Etre of NOT OUT OF AFRICA into account (essentially that it is Lefkowitz' bulwark against neo-Nazi mythology in Black Postmodernists' clothing), note this from Dr. Stecchini: "The historian Luigi Salvatorelli (...the most outstanding chronicler and analyst of the Fascist phenomenon in Italy) has written that fascism was, first of all, a reaction by the class of parasitic job holders with academic degrees against the involvement of Italy in the stream of international capitalism...this 'humanistic petite bourgeoisie' was the product of a classical education emphasizing only the rhetorical skills, and saw itself threatened by the possible rise of true bourgeois elites with all sorts of technical skills...Salvatorelli...points out that in Italy, classical education of the rhetorical type, connected with an ancient history that emphasized the political side, gave 'an artificial interpretation of the ancient world'.... IT MUST BE NOTED THAT IT IS IN THIS CONTEXT THAT ANTI-SEMITIC LITERATURE MADE ITS FIRST APPEARANCE IN ITALY (emphasis mine)." From this Ms. Lefkowitz can find not Afrocentrism (projection?), but much of her beloved Classicism's roots.
There is a truism of all societies regarding groups who are fearing an oncoming economic, political and philosophical paradigm shift in their way of life: they will express that fear via projecting its causes onto the communities for whom acts of mindless violence and aggression against has been previously legitimized, and strike out accordingly. Racism is just one institutionalized expression of this dynamic. I cannot recommend NOT OUT OF AFRICA because this dynamic of focused violence in the name of paradigm shift-phobia is exactly the psychological and epistemological foundation upon which much of modern Classicism and the entirety of Lefkowitz' intellectual critique of Afrocentrism is built. Her well written, detailed arguments regarding the dubious quality of Chekh Anta Diop's work and the integrity of Herodotos in the end, given their foundation in this power-based paradigm of irrational fear, can only be of lasting value to those with the preexisting desire to unquestioningly believe her argument before it is even made. Many of the less educated reviewers singing her praises for merely attacking Black scholars and Black scholarship unapologetically--AND NO ONE ELSE (like the Zacharia Sitchin ancient astronaut school of cultural/religious origins to name but one example)--make this abundantly clear.
The rants of Lefkowitz are, thankfully, eventually silenced by the quiet wisdom of Kuhn, the genius linguist who coined the phrase "paradigm shift" (as quoted by Chris Knight, anthropologist author of BLOOD RELATIONS): "A SCIENTIFIC revolution, according to Kuhn, is not simply an addition to pre-existing knowledge. It is, within any field, 'a reconstruction of the field from new fundamentals'; a complete demolition of an old theoretical and conceptual structure and its replacement by a new one based on entirely different aims and premises. The old paradigm...attacked from the outside...cannot be defeated on the basis of its own rules for, as we have seen...these rules are not only inadequate to solve new problems which have begun to arise--THEY ACTUALLY PRECULDE ANY DISCUSSION OF THESE PROBLEMS AT ALL."
NOT OUT OF AFRICA is not a great book. Nor is it a book without serious--indeed, cancerous--unscholarly biases, regardless of Lefkowitz' pretense of it being otherwise.

Blood Relations: Menstruation and the Origins of Culture
Blood Relations: Menstruation and the Origins of Culture
by Chris Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 69.72
25 used & new from CDN$ 42.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Paradigm shifting achievement that revalidates Afrocentrism, Oct. 18 2002
"The notion of tabu as connoting both 'danger' and 'power' belongs in fact to a venerable tradition. One source of this is the work of Durkheim...a pioneering article on menstrual symbolism published in 1898...Durkheim argued that women established the exogamy rule by periodically BLEEDING so as to repulse the opposite sex...[women] were the immediate agents of religious ideology's segregating action."
"...But of course, the model of cultural origins advocated in this book would lead us to trace the underlying abstract logic of the Rainbow Snake...much further back into the Aborigines past--indeed, right back to their first entry into Australia [from central Africa]..."
"It would be interesting to study the ideological and political factors which led to Durkheim's insights being virtually ignored for a hundred years."
Chapter 11: "The Raw and The Cooked" and
Chapter 14: "The Dragon Within"
" At Yirkalla, in...north-east Arnhem Land [aboriginal Australia]...women's solidarity is still very strong, menstrual blood is regarded as 'sacred'... It is only when this snake power of the women themselves has been established that the conditions are felt appropriate for the climax of the ceremony...
'...really we have been stealing what belongs to them (the women) for it is mostly women's business... Women can't see what men are doing...This is because all the Dreaming business came out of women--everything...In the beginning we had nothing...we took these things from women.'
"It is one of the severest indictments of 20th Century anti-evolutionist anthropology that its models have led ethnographers to dismiss such profound Aboriginal insights as scientifically valueless."
Chapter 13: "The Rainbow Snake"
This is a five star, paradigm-shifting treatise on human cultural origins if there ever was one. Chris Knight's rendering of the four plus million years of primate and proto-human history in BLOOD RELATIONS, right up to the latest 200,000 years that begin true humankind and human culture in central Africa and along the Nile, through to the psychic/motivational bedrock of our conflicted modern society, becomes more impressive, more inclusive--and more impregnable with every chapter and every turn of the page.
My test for the far-reaching influence and power of any theorist--particularly of the wannabe revolutionary kind--is three-fold. One, their theory must be completely plausible; i.e. not needing simple revolt from detractors and complimentary but poorly explained aspects of ITSELF to proclaim and rationalize its essential relevance. Two, they must have the ability to completely encapsulate the foundational principles, concepts and findings of the other historical and competitive theories within its discipline as an integral part of its own new perspective; showing their ideas to be the great quantum leap beyond our sense of reality and the all inclusive step toward truth. And third, perhaps most important of all, it has to excite me. There may be things my mind will not be specifically educated enough, multi-lingual enough or quick enough to pick up, but you cannot fool my heart. All these three are BLOOD RELATIONS's great achievement and great contribution.
Chris Knight, the brilliant and controversial London anthropologist, does this all in BLOOD RELATIONS with such remarkable clarity and erudition, in fact, attempts to disagree with his findings becomes pointless. His unified field-theory of the prehistoric African woman's role in the formation of human culture is so incredibly well done, and so profoundly earth shattering in its implications, that I read the book twice to fully soak in all the sacred pre-verbal intuitions I have had that it reveals to be historical fact and obvious science.
So far the only complaint of BLOOD RELATIONS I could have is the only one possible: he seemingly focuses too much on the Marxist avatar of revolutionary cultural ideas while using it as the lens via which the origins of culture could be best understood. This at times seems to ironically minimize the revolutionary spirit of humankind that produced them. None less than the great Picasso was once quoted in saying "today's artists are tomorrow's politicians;" focusing more on the *artistic* power of the creative human spirit (my bias) may have put his new paradigm in an even more inclusive perspective. Yet even there he establishes, to my knowledge, the first credible dialectic between the devolved, political diseases of 20th century Stalinism/Maoism and the philosophical/scientific postulates of the 19th century Marxism upon which their regimes were originally based. So powerfully, in fact, that the Marxist perspective he examines and explains driving his reevaluation of 20th century anthropology--and, in turn, our entire view of human culture--need not (and in his book does not) come with the kind of intellectual apologies that would otherwise signify an inherent lack of validity.
Chris Knight with BLOOD RELATIONS shows unquestionably that women, via sex and the rhythm of menstruation, nurtured the primal creative impulse of civilization and they essentially created human culture. And he shows it to be made up of communal solidarity against oppressors and oppressive situations (be it prehistoric animals or alpha males), symbol-driven creativity, and achieving a certain oneness with the rhythms of nature. This primal social movement that is the womb of human culture, told in every ancient culture's foundational myths, could naturally just as easily explain the birth of democracy and/or capitalism in the historical ages of feudalism as it does the advent of Marxism in the age of capitalism...and what is next for human kind.
This is another of the great books of our time whose far-reaching influence in modern culture has not even begun to be felt. One can only imagine what anthropological works throughout history that have been ignored because of intellectual biases will now be reexamined and redeemed through his paradigm shifting work. I would combine this with Barbara Ehrenreich's 1995 work BLOOD RITES, and the 19th Century Gerald Massey's ANCIENT EGYPT, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD as an anthropological trinity of monumental, paradigm shifting proportions that will change your view of humankind-our true past, present and potential-forever.
BLOOD RELATIONS is beautiful.

Not Out Of Africa: How ""Afrocentrism"" Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History
Not Out Of Africa: How ""Afrocentrism"" Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History
by Mary Lefkowitz
Edition: Paperback
Offered by more_for_u
Price: CDN$ 18.20
39 used & new from CDN$ 1.12

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SOMETHING proudly masquerading as scholarship; but what?, Sept. 11 2002
The problem I seem to have with this book is not so much the contents but its overall structure and design, which reveals volumes about both its actual purpose and the value of its theme. This can be seen clearly via Lefkowitz' sub-strategy of focusing on the work of C.A. Diop, the highly influential Senegalese anthropologist. She seems to assume that by declaring his scholarship dubious or even mythological (because of the many scholars influenced by him the past couple of decades) the point is proven that, for the most part, the "Afrocentric" perspective in Classical scholarship (for lack of a better word) is at best suspect. The very standards of scholarship, philosophy, ethics and erudition Lefkowitz proposes to be defending, however, as seen with a keen eye by the very structure of both the book and its argument, are the ones she seems to have betrayed to prove her point.
What exactly are Lefkowitz' credentials regarding the disciplines of Egyptology and anthropology? What does she believe about the findings of mythographers from Frazer (GOLDEN BOUGH) to Godfrey Higgins (ANACALYPSIS) to Gerald Massey (ANCIENT EGYPT, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD; BOOK OF THE BEGINNINGS) to Burkert (ANCIENT GREEK RELIGION), to MacRitchie (ANCIENT AND MODERN BRITONS), to Roheim; to Campbell (POWER OF MYTH; HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, etc.) to Camille Paglia (SEXUAL PERSONAE)?
What does she think of Nietzsche (BIRTH OF TRAGEDY, etc.)?
What are her credentials regarding the history of the sciences, particularly the field of astronomy (exemplified in history by the work of the 19th century astronomer J. Norman Lockyer in DAWN OF ASTRONOMY)? What does she think of the work of the French late 18th century scientific historian Dupuis' LES ORIGINE DES TOUT LES CULTES [The Origin of All Cults])? Or, perhaps the most important, the science of metrology? (Metrology is the historical/mathematical study of the ancient science of mensuration [measurement]. It fell out of favor in Europe during the ascension of anti-Semitism in the late 19th century; mostly because of the uncomfortable implications its findings proclaimed regarding the *Pre*-Pre-Hellenic source of ancient Greece's entire system of measurement, from weight to length to time--arguably the foundation of all high civilizations.)
How do these works, scholars and disciplines shed a new scientific light on the sacred literary cows of her beloved discipline, Classicism, and its evolution?
What does she think of the term "sociology of knowledge" as it applies to the history of Classicism in that context, and does it have any relevance to her? Should it have any relevance to us?
And what does Lefkowitz think of the new breed of Israeli/Jewish archaeologists who are tracing more and more aspects of ancient Greece's culture back to its Hebrew/Semitic influences in the same way the "Afrocentrics" are tracing so many of them back to ancient North Africa, aka Egypt (or is it just easier to risk being called a racist for your views in today's conservative world than it is an anti-Semite, and she doesn't ever plan to say)?
You will not find the answers to any of these questions in this book, by design. And without these questions being answered, whether they are openly asked (as I am doing) or just intuitively (as many, whether they admit it or not, eventually will), the thesis of the book as a whole becomes shaky and its stated raison d'Etre profoundly suspect. A cursory glance at even a portion of the books I've mentioned, however, will reveal that virtually ALL of these thinkers and scholars, in their varied disciplines and time periods, agree more with the findings of Afrocentrism than with Lefkowitz, or her book's quasi-sociological theme. Why have virtually all of the above writers and thinkers been omitted in large part from her book, and as such, her intellectual scrutiny, so she could focus on today's Black male intellectuals?
In the end my biggest problem with NOT OUT OF AFRICA is obvious--and it has nothing to do with my feelings on Afrocentrism. Lefkowitz' strategy used to debunk Afrocentrism as pagan heresy (beginning with debunking Diop via his methodology but not honestly wrestling with the most substantive aspects of his findings) is both pagan and heretical itself. This loaded intellectual gun of a strategy she's used will mortally wound whatever idea it is pointed at whenever it is fired, regardless of its validity...why all the hoopla about it picking off Black anthropologists, as opposed to White Classicists?
Lefkowitz' ironically triumphant refusal to entertain the idea that a paradigm shift is taking place in Classical scholarship (initiated, as most paradigm shifts are, from outside the field) *hidden in a sociological attack on African-American perspectives on it*, reveals something profoundly uncomfortable, yet awfully familiar. It reveals, underneath the laudable superego of her reputation and erudition, a pretty nasty, 19th Century Eurocentric id that is afraid of the quasi-religious chinks in Classicism's academic armor becoming more and more visible to the 21st Century with each passing day.
Read this book with an open mind, and you'll hear the sound of it closing before you reach the last page. She's an eloquent writer (hence the three stars), but given 1) the importance of courageously confronting the sociology of knowledge as it has existed for centuries in the scholarly world (not just when Black men in America began being allowed to get graduate degrees in anthropology), and 2) the degree to which she purposely failed to do so for the benefit of capitalizing financially on the "reverse-racism" Zeitgeist running through conservative America, this is not what true scholarship is about. The last word on this whole issue will probably come from her detractors.

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