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How the World Works

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  3,227 ratings  ·  278 reviews
According to The New York Times, Noam Chomsky is “arguably the most important intellectual alive.” But he isn’t easy to read . . . or at least he wasn’t until these books came along. Made up of intensively edited speeches and interviews, they offer something not found anywhere else: pure Chomsky, with every dazzling idea and penetrating insight intact, delivered in clear, ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Soft Skull Press (first published September 1st 2011)
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Sep 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This book has considerable merit, but also some serious flaws. It is basically interviews with Noam Chomsky, who brings his vast knowledge to comment on subjects like how the U.S. government really works, imperialism, democracy, and economics. But there are no footnotes, so you can't check sources, you just have to take Chomsky's word for everything. It paints a grim picture of the modern corporate security state. By stringing together a number of short examples on particular topics, like how th ...more

American by birth. Anti-American by political conviction. That is Chomsky.

(Thinking Owl)

(Sorry, on page 57 I had to stop; to ponder, because Owlseyes has blue eyes)
But now I'm back on it.

I'm on 60% of the book. I guess that's a kind of Chomsky fixation on the USA bad side. I'd rarely seen/read any good remark on the USA as a nation and its history. In fact, it's a nation getting worse as you proceed through the historical account of Chomsky. Indeed, it seems he cannot stand autho
António de Sousa
Jun 15, 2013 rated it liked it
For those who are still not aware of the constant presence and influence of the US in global warfare this is a huge eye opener. It is impressive the detail description and opinion presented by Chomsky in this big set of interviews. A leftist/anarchist point of view, critical to capitalism and current social status and modern human condition. A good first read for those interest in concepts such as, class warfare, global economy, third world countries wars and the roots of racism.
This is not a bo
"Speaking truth to power makes no sense. There's no point in speaking the truth to Henry Kissinger—he knows it already. Instead, speak truth to the powerless—or, better, with the powerless. Then they'll act to dismantle illegitimate power." (314)
Bill Bowyer
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Chom Chom says enough to wet the palate but the rest you need to figure out on your own. In other words, he shows you the curtain but doesn't tell you what's on the other side and most importantly, who. Good writer though, smart man who cuts through the crap pretty quick, something I appreciate.

Louis Clou
Dec 12, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: find an alternative chomsky book with proper references and annotations
The book makes the impression on me of a classical conspirancy rant. Lots of facts without any reference where those facts came from.
All kinds of non scientific expressions like 'intent', how can you proof intent; intent is interpretation most often.
This all the more, since the quite grandious claims in the book.

My question is if you know about a book by Chomsky about this topic that has been properly annotated, including references and has been written from a scientific point of view?
I would lo
Nikos Tsentemeidis
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shattering book! Too much information about the world and USA. Chomsky has a lot of knowledge and an unbelievable clarity of mins.
5 stars not for style, because it is a series of recorded interviews and as such can get a bit choppy, but for content. Corporations control government. And if you doubt this he can prove it to you a thousand different ways. That, and a U.S. government controlled by major corporations routinely undermines not communist states, not socialist states, but states with legitimate democracies. Why? Because as he demonstrates in the book a country with a legitimate democracy is a danger to corporations ...more
Billie Pritchett
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noam-chomsky
Noam Chomsky's How the World Works (HWW) has an awfully high-falutin' title, but it seems to be quite accurate in describing the content. HWW is actually a collection of four abridged books, some of which are interviews with Chomsky, others of which are books that had been written by Chomsky. If there's one basic theme for the book, it is this truism: that governments and large businesses operate in their own interests and not in the interests of the people they are supposed to serve.

I say this
Chomsky can be verbose and dense so there is a need for a snappier resume of his arguments. The interview format serves some of the same ends as a severe editor working to keep him on topic - and yet Chomsky still reels from one thing to another in his own inimitable way. You have to love him.

This is a collection of short booklets published in the early 1990s and it is interesting to see what was being said at the time about so many issues from that period which continue to haunt politics today
Xara  Kozaki
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
Noam, it's been a pleasure. ...more
Ben Lever
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, occupy
Noam Chomsky’s omnibus How The World Works is made up of four of his earlier books - What Uncle Sam Really Wants; The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many; Secrets, Lies and Democracy; and The Common Good. These four are made up of edited transcripts of radio interviews Chomsky did through the 80s and 90s, and the format works quite well - the questions are useful starting points, and Chomsky mostly just uses them as a springboard from which to make points, so they tend not to intrude too much.

Alex Francis
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's worth noting that as a coherent book this isn't great, being a collection of pamphlets reprinted together. It's also irritating that notes from the originals were omitted based on an editorial view that they were out of date. Despite those shortcomings, and in part owing to my naivete in the subject matter, I found the material sufficiently explosive and the arguments so intelligently constructed that I'd rate this one of the most important books I've read. Chomsky is set apart by his histo ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A collection of his various interviews on a broad range of topics from economy to disastrous wars or coups, the book is not only a solid account of Chomsky's invaluable insights to the world and what we could do about it, but also a really accessible one. It is very easy to see why he's mostly ignored in the US media, but he keeps not giving up, which is a good thing for everyone (except the few benefiting hugely from the system). The first of the four books gets at times into the grotesque deta ...more
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Chomsky has a tendency to write in long, convoluted sentences, so the purpose of this book is to make him more accessible by offering transcripts of interviews. It works. The stuff on corporations being totalitarian tyrannies should hit home for everyone who works in one.
A favourite quote: "The press isn’t in the business of letting people know how power works. It would be crazy to expect that....They’re part of the power system—why should they expose it?”
Mar 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: main-shelf
A very educating piece of work, an interesting look at the not-so-behind-the-scenes global politics/profits we see today. Although the examples are a little dated, Chomsky's arguments will be valid for quite some time. ...more
C. Scott
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love Chomsky's bluntness... reading this is like visiting some wise old monk and getting lots of surprisingly simple answers to a lot of big questions. Many aren't ready to hear what this man has to say, but I think there is a lot of truth in Chomsky's worldview. ...more
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Speaking truth to power makes no sense. There's no point in speaking the truth to Henry Kissinger--he knows it already. Instead, speak truth to the powerless--or, better, with the powerless. They they'll act to dismantle illegitimate power." ...more
Niklas Pivic
If you think this book may be too old to read, think again. From the foreword, by Arthur Naiman:

Although the talks and interviews compiled in this book originally took place in the 1990s (and some even in the late 1980s), I think you’ll find Chomsky’s take on things more insightful than virtually anything you hear on the airwaves or read in the papers today. His analyses are so deep and farsighted that they only seem to get more timely—and startling—with age. Read a few pages and see if you don’
Oussama Nakkal
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thought-provoking and eye-opening book. An essential material to be introduced to chomsky's views on the politics and economics running the world in the shadows of mainstream media and thought. ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of interviews, over several years. There's quite a bit of repetition. Overall, the book is a 300-page critique of the USA politics and of capitalism in general. It's very candid, and like the author says himself - quite a bit depressing.
The main points Noam gives are:
- capitalistic enterprises are current form of fascism and are responsible for most of the bad things we're seeing (not out of malice or conspiracies, but out of pure profit-oriented interest)
- strength lies i
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: activists and powerless people
Shelves: politik, general
wow.very hard to read but worth it.full of idea and truth about Neoconservative,New World Order and else.time to think out of quote Noam Chomsky Pick your cause and go volunteer for a group that's working on it - Noam Chomsky.this is a collection of essay like(it is interview actually) and short books combined together.although some of his books written in 1970 the idea sound more and more updated.after all now is past Arab Spring.a must read for powerless(us).do not let the ruler(read:bu ...more
Muhammad Ridha Ar-Rasyid
I feel amazed. This book opened my eyes wide and wider. Chomsky did a great job with this book, and it couldn't finished well if David Barsamian didn't ask critical question - almost "every-single-thing" - about how the world really works.

Chomsky explained that with such a great insight, with economical science, reigions, political science, and the government itself. It isn't just about the US, but the third world as main object.

Then, I must give a standing applause to him and David for this boo
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great introduction to Chomsky's ideas based on conversations, talks and radio debates. Starts off with a bang, denouncing the US foreign policy after WW2 that goes on the present day but it does get a little repetitive - this actually being four books compiled into one probably helps as well. Nevertheless, the reason why Chomsky has been such a respected intellectual for decades on end is very well displayed in these pages. ...more
Joe Xtarr
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most important and depressing book I've ever read. Very informative and mood-altering (in a good way!). If you are interested in U.S. history, economics, or foreign policy, this book is for you. It is probably the easiest of all of Chomsky's books to read, as it is taken from a spoken-word interview. ...more
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How can one not be outraged at US Foreign policy when it's nothing but corporate interests? - this is Chomsky's clear message. Although written in the 90s these texts are still very relevant today. A must read. ...more
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Some of the rural workers in Brazil have an interesting slogan. They say their immediate task is “expanding the floor of the cage.” They understand that they’re trapped inside a cage, but realize that protecting it when it’s under attack from even worse predators on the outside, and extending the limits of what the cage
will allow, are both essential preliminaries to dismantling it. If they attack the cage directly when they’re so vulnerable, they’ll get murdered. That’s something anyone ought to
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book Chomsky deconstructs the point of view that the USA is deeply democratic and tries to export democracy all over the world. In his shocking analysis the opposite is the case. All over the world (Central America, Vietnam, Korea, India, Chile, ...) they have (successfully) destroyed democratic regimes and trade unions and have supported cruel dictators in order to enhance American business investments, who thrive more in a stable dictatorship where workers' rights are thwarted by polic ...more
Michael McGuire
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
“How The World Works” is a remarkable introduction to Chomsky’s political ideas and theories.

The book comprises a series of interviews from the 90’s and addresses a vast range of social & political issues - a lot of which is prevalent and important in modern society.

At times the sheer amount of information felt overwhelming and, as a result, the structure was slightly disjointed in places however that shouldn’t detract from Chomsky’s underlying ideas.
Azat Sultanov
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Part of what the propaganda system does is deprive terms of meaning."
Basically, almost all national and international initiatives are undertaken in the sole interest of transnational corporations. If you don't blow in their horn, they will come and teach you some democracy.
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Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of linguistics made in the 20th century. H

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40 likes · 7 comments
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.” 25 likes
“Take democracy. According to the common-sense meaning, a society is democratic to the extent that people can participate in a meaningful way in managing their affairs. But the doctrinal meaning of democracy is different—it refers to a system in which decisions are made by sectors of the business community and related elites. The public are to be only “spectators of action,” not “participants,” as leading democratic theorists (in this case, Walter Lippmann) have explained. They are permitted to ratify the decisions of their betters and to lend their support to one or another of them, but not to interfere with matters—like public policy—that are none of their business.” 9 likes
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