I really thought I had read something by Chris Hedges. I've spun back through the blog and see that, while I thought I had read American Fascists, I must not have as it came out in 2008 and i was blogging about every book I had read by that time. I know I've read articles he has written.

The tone of Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle is one of angry mourning. Anger at the corporations and politicians who are fiddling while Rome burns, anger at the people who buy into the culture of more money now, at people who don't think, who use others. The chapter on porn is particularly angry. Mourning because there was a point when knowledge and thinking were important and valued.

He makes many references to various dystopian novels like 1984 and comes to the conclusion that out current society has many similarities to Brave New World, which I haven't yet read so can't comment on, and Fahrenheit 451. The Bradbury book has characters constantly being "infotained" by video screens throughout the home and city. It isn't just that people aren't allowed to have books, most people have no idea there would be any reason for them to do so. Now I am going to add Brave New World on my list for next year.

I guess the biggest problem I had with the book is that, while it does an astounding job of explaining the scope and facets of our problematic culture, it offers no solutions. so, i am going with a 4 for this book.


  1. I saw a post somewhere recently comparing contemporary America to 1984 and Brave New World. Brave New World is the one that has come true.

    But, if I think back, Brave New World as always been true. The notion of Bread and Circus goes back to the days of the Roman empire. Keep the people entertained and fed and you can do whatever you want.

  2. That is too bad. It isn't hard to write something pointing out all the problems in the world, we all see them every day. And while there is value at making sure everyone at least acknowledges the elephant in the room it seems to me that if a person is going to take the time to write something like that they might at least put their two cents in regarding possible answers.

  3. CB- Very true about going back to Rome. I hadn't thought of that.

    Carl- It works well for an article but for a whole book i really thought it would have a few more answers.


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