Published by Hot Books on October 11th 2016
Chris Hedges on the most taboo topics in America, with David Talbot.
Chris Hedges has been telling truth to (and against) power since his earliest days as a radical journalist. He is an intellectual bomb thrower, who continues to confront American empire in the most incisive, challenging ways. The kinds of insights he provides into the deeply troubled state of our democracy cannot be found anywhere else. Like many of our most important thinkers, he has been relegated to the margins because of ideas deemed too radical—or true—for public consumption. Whether it is covering the dissolution of former Soviet states or embedding in the Middle East to understand the post-9/11 world, he has been a singular voice pushing against mainstream media disinformation and the amnesia of establishment received wisdom. He is an intellectual heir to American radical heroes such as Thomas Paine and Noam Chomsky, and is dedicated to reigniting a shared commitment to radical equality and honesty.
Hedges here speaks up about the most pressing issues that currently face our nation. He tackles the rise of a fascist right in support of Donald Trump, which advocates xenophobia and violence in a push for American totalitarianism. He rails against the posturing of inclusivity from establishment elites on both sides of the aisle, who post-Occupy-Wall-Street continue to advocate for policies that make America uninhabitable for all but the ultra-rich and, as lackeys for corporate interests, continue to expand income inequality in all directions. He tears into the contemporary glamorization of the military and the unchecked, unchallenged hawkishness that defines contemporary American foreign policy. Moreover, he shows his support for contemporary revolts against this twisted order—such as Black Lives Matter—that represent Americans refusing to take the destruction of their country lying down. And that’s just the start.
He possesses a clear understanding of the challenges that lie before us, and has proven to be ahead of the curve time and again. All of which is to say, Chris Hedges is unafraid to say what is necessary and true—and has always been. If we are to combat the intellectual and moral decay that have come to grip American life, we must listen to him and the urgent message he brings in this book.
Unspeakable by Chris Hedges is the first book in the “Unspeakable” series by Hot Books/Skyhorse Publishing. The series will provide a platform for writers, thinkers, and activists who have been marginalized, criticized, and otherwise silenced by the powerful mainstream media.
Hedges has an extensive, impressive, and credible resumé as a journalist. He’s the son of a Presbyterian minister, educated at some of the finest institutions in the county, from Loomis Chafee to Harvard. He is clearly a very, very intelligent man. He is also a very opinionated man with very strong convictions. In reading this book, it became easy to understand how someone like Chris Hedges could upset apple carts. What is less easy to understand is how and why any journalist, living and working within an institution that exists to promote the transparency and dissemination of information, can be so easily cast aside. (Remember, we are talking about a well-respected intellectual; one of a group of 8 to win a Pulitzer prize at the New York Times.) The answer, of course, becomes clear in this book.
There didn’t seem to be any subjects off limits. From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to 9/11, from Trump to pornography, and racism to the Occupy Movement, it’s all there. And while I didn’t necessarily agree with all of his opinions, I came to respect and admire him as a principled person, unwilling to cave or conform in order to retain the favor of those operating within a system he holds in contempt.
This book was formatted as a dialog between Mr. Hedges and fellow journalist David Talbot. While that made for a little bit of jumping from subject to subject, I felt it worked very well in terms of conveying the candor of the conversation. It also made for great pacing. The only issue I had, and it may be one specific to me, is that I was unfamiliar with several of the names mentioned throughout the book; mostly journalists. I don’t feel that that impacted my overall experience in reading the book, however. I simply had to do a little Googling.
This is a very timely read given our post-election political climate. I love the idea of this series. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t be too secure in your opinions if you haven’t taken the time to listen to those who differ.
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Many thanks to Hot Books/Skyhorse Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.