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Other Septembers, Many Americas: Selected Provocations, 1980-2004

by Ariel Dorfman Tom Engelhardt

"Let me tell you, America, of the hopes I had for you," Dorfman writes after the fall of the Twin Towers, remembering back to an earlier September 11 in 1973, when he was on the staff of Salvador Allende, then president of Chile, the day he was removed from office and murdered in a coup in which the U.S. government was complicit. "Beware the plague of victimhood, America ... Nothing is more dangerous than a giant who is afraid." Included in Other Septembers, Many Americas are major essays about the America south of the border, exploring the ambiguous relationship between power and literature and touching on topics as diverse as bilingualism, barbarians, and video games. In the essay "A Different Drum," Dorfman asks, "Isn't it time, as war approaches yet again, to tell each other stories of peace over and over again?" Over and over in these jewel-like essays, his best shorter work of the last quarter-century, Dorfman weaves together sentiment and politics with his sense of the larger historical questions, reminding Americans of our unique role in the world, so different from the one put forward by the current administration: the power to resist and to imagine.

The United States of Fear

by Tom Engelhardt

In 2008, when the U.S. National Intelligence Council issued its latest report meant for the administration of newly elected President Barack Obama, it predicted that the planet's "sole superpower" would suffer a modest decline and a soft landing fifteen years hence. In his new book The United States of Fear, Tom Engelhardt makes clear that Americans should don their crash helmets and buckle their seat belts, because the United States is on the path to a major decline at a startling speed. Engelhardt offers a savage anatomy of how successive administrations in Washington took the "Soviet path"--pouring American treasure into the military, war, and national security--and so helped drive their country off the nearest cliff. This is the startling tale of how fear was profitably shot into the national bloodstream, how the country-gripped by terror fantasies-was locked down, and how a brain-dead Washington elite fiddled (and profited) while America quietly burned. Think of it as the story of how the Cold War really ended, with the triumphalist "sole superpower" of 1991 heading slowly for the same exit through which the Soviet Union left the stage twenty years earlier.

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