Why Are We at War? Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Beginning with his debut masterpiece, The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer has repeatedly told the truth about war. Why Are We at War? returns Mailer to the gravity of the battlefield and the grand hubris of the politicians who send soldiers there to die. First published in the early days of the Iraq War, Why Are We at War? is an explosive argument about the American quest for empire that still carries weight today. Scrutinizing the Bush administration's words and actions, Mailer unleashes his trademark moral rigor: "Because democracy is noble, it is always endangered.... To assume blithely that we can export democracy into any country we choose can serve paradoxically to encourage more fascism at home and abroad."
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|Listening Length||1 hour and 53 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||December 27, 2015|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #392,497 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#234 in International Diplomacy (Audible Books & Originals)
#393 in National & International Security (Audible Books & Originals)
#509 in Civil Rights & Liberties (Audible Books & Originals)
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Mr. Mailer is, beyond anything, an artist. "The Naked and the Dead" may be a flawed masterpiece, but a masterpiece it is. There have been fictional failures, like "Barbary Shore", and "The Gospel According to the Son", but Mailer's fiction has captured his times and has secured his position in American literature. Mailer is also a gifted essayist and journalist. He is, whether he likes the label or not, one of the original "New Journalists", a writer like Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, John Sack (and an endless parade of vaguely talented imitators) who makes himself a part of the story. "The Executioner's Song", about the first execution in the United States after the Supreme Court resurrected capital punishment in the 1970's after its brief legal demise, and "The Armies of the Night", about the anti-war march on the Pentagon in 1967, are as good as that genre gets. "Why Are We at War?" is only a welterweight contender next to that pair of heavyweight champions but the writing is the same. There are also similarities to Mailer's brilliant and unique novel "Why Are We in Vietnam?".
"Malignant and bristling with dots" is how Mailer once described TV. Mailer has been railing for years about the vapidity and soul-stultifying nature of the tube, how it destroys creativity, limits attention spans and inures viewers to all mannner of violence. But Mailer concedes that TV can't sanitize all violence; some televised violence is transcendent. Like Ruby shooting Oswald. Like a handcuffed Viet Cong being hauled into a Saigon street and shot in the head. And like the second plane hitting the second tower on 9/11. An existential moment-Mailer watching the second strike on TV from his house in Provincetown while speaking on the phone to his daughter in Brooklyn; she was watching the same thing live through a plate-glass window. Mailer maintains that 9/11 provided the Bush people-Cheney, Wolfowitz, the whole recycled lot of them-the jingoistic cover they needed to do what they had wanted since the fall of the Soviet Union, namely expand the American Empire. The main reason the conservatives hated Clinton so much was less about the creative placement of cigars than the notion that he was frustrating their dream, their lust, for world takeover.
No words are minced, no punches pulled in "Why Are We at War?". Former infantryman Mailer takes on "flag conservatives" and "promiscuous patriots", warns that President Bush will need a good "...karmic defense attorney" and wonders if we can export democracy the same way we export Big Macs and Coca Cola. Norman Mailer. The One and Only.
By John R. Hunt Sr. on October 31, 2007
IT IS A GREAT EYE OPENER REGARDING THE CONSTRUCTIVE PATRIOTISM OF THE ANTI WAR CROWD VERSUS THE REASSURING DRUG ADDICTION TYPE PATRIOTISM OF THE PRO WAR PEOPLE. THE BOOK WARNS US HOW A DEMOCRATIC NATION CAN BE LEAD BLINDLY AND UNWITTINGLY INTO A FASCISM SIMILAR TO HITLER'S NAZISM. IT SHOWS US AS WELL THE MOTIVATIONS AND DANGERS OF IMPERIALISM AND ITS HYPOCRISY IN THE CONTEXT OF OUR FREEDOM LOVING COUNTRY. MAILER TRIES TO TEACH THE READER THAT REAL CONCERN FOR ONE'S COUNTRY IS NOT IN DENIAL AND UNCONDITIONAL LOVE BUT IN THE RECOGNITION OF AND ACTING UPON ITS QUALITIES AND ITS DEFECTS.
The author notes the influence of radical conservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and others in the government who subscribe to the concept of an American empire, which is, he believes, the reason for war. This decision to extend the American authority is either due to perverse greed, or an honest belief that America must save the world. Mailer also postulates that even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, President Bush seems to have reasoned that,
If terrorism is evil and must be destroyed, and
Saddam Hussein is evil, then
Saddam Hussein must be destroyed. Ergo, we fight in Iraq because of 9/11.
Frankly, the belief that this may be the operative syllogism (despite the obvious logical flaws and policy inconsistencies with other state leaders) makes more sense then any other reason for why Mr. Bush believes we should be in Iraq (it's the same theme of a popular country song and to many letters to the editor favoring the war). That Bush continually changes stories on his stated reasons for entering war, and other evidence to support him does not appear to exist, gives credence to Mailer's conclusions.
Mailer's point on American's anger toward immigration was under developed. To the question of why others in the world hate us so, consider how offensive are some long time Americans to immigrants, whom they fear will change the nature of this country. English only laws are one symptom of this hysteria. Also remember the anger expressed towards Japan when some thought that country seemed intent on buying what they did not win in war. This is similar (right or wrong) to what other cultures feel toward the infiltration of American culture in their land. Now multiply this fear several times because the U.S. also has the military and economic might to force an influence where it may not be fully desired.
Mailer does fill the rest of his book with random thoughts on various issues, some relevant, others less so, but it's a quick read and does not do damage to his central thesis. And despite what one may think about Mailer, he gives every indication that his arguments are based on a sincere desire to help Americans think straight about what is happening around us and to preserve freedom.