Meika's Reviews > Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges
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U_50x66
's review
Dec 04, 10

Read in November, 2010

I almost didn't make it past the first chapter with this book. He didn't do his research on the reality of professional wrestling (WWE etc), and committed the cardinal sin of saying it is all stagecraft and choreography. It isn't. Lucky for him, his point about the spectacle-ness of it still holds. That said, I didn't really trust him for the rest of the book because one overgeneralization is one too many when you put all this stuff in writing and call bullshit on the US of A.

I do think, in spite of a tendency to overlook nuanced information, that his points are good. He is especially spot-on when he calls American higher education out for buying in to a market value approach to education. THAT much I've seen and experienced first hand. And he did bound his scathing opinions reasonably well (i.e. not all professors at Harvard are sell-outs, just some).

His statements about the Department of Defense were a little painful. The harsh reality of where we stand as a nation, the role of contracting companies and lobbyists in government, and how most of the citizens have been rendered complicit by sheer ignorance... not a pretty picture. But once again, I've seen some of what he's talking about first-hand.

I kind of wish that he'd left the chapter on the porn industry out of this book. It's shocking and disgusting and makes me rethink my beliefs about access, censorship, etc. But it was really distracting from what was otherwise a cohesive expose on the relationship between the government, universities and people. Maybe he should've left the professional wrestling chapter out too.
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message 1: by Charles (new)

Charles From your description, reminds me of Daniel P. Mannix's "Those About To Die." Great deal of similarity between U.S.A. and Rome.


Meika Hm... I haven't read "Those About To Die," but I've noticed a trend in current political theory towards stating the similarities between the US and nations in decline.
Hard to say if I think it because people I respect are saying it, or if I respect the people who are saying it because it's true, but it seems to me that we're on the brink of a dark ages. Have you read Snow Crash?


Meika I just looked at the info in Amazon.com for "The Way of the Gladiator" which used to be "Those About To Die" and it looks familiar. I think Hedges actually mentioned Mannix's book. I would check but I left my copy with my dad.


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