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The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  41,683 ratings  ·  2,994 reviews
In her ground-breaking reporting from Iraq, Naomi Klein exposed how the trauma of invasion was being exploited to remake the country in the interest of foreign corporations. She called it "disaster capitalism." Covering Sri Lanka in the wake of the tsunami, and New Orleans post-Katrina, she witnessed something remarkably similar. People still reeling from catastrophe were ...more
Hardcover, 558 pages
Published September 18th 2007 by Metropolitan Books (first published September 18th 2006)
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Veronika I think it is perhaps better not to know - go in with an open mind and then use her well documented references to follow with up your own research, ch…moreI think it is perhaps better not to know - go in with an open mind and then use her well documented references to follow with up your own research, check out the context of her commentary with original documents or use as a link/hook to further your own knowledge/shape your own point of view on any specific point or idea mentioned.(less)
Johan What does even perfect mean in these instances?

Friedman must have been thrilled when approached by Pinochet, for the first time someone was showing in…more
What does even perfect mean in these instances?

Friedman must have been thrilled when approached by Pinochet, for the first time someone was showing interest in implementing his untested ideas.

Thinking that (economic) decisions are taken purely based on available information is already there nonsense. Then to take step to say that perfect information would lead to a perfect market economy is simply delusional.

So basing a wide range of (macroeconomic) policies on such notions is nothing but irresponsible.

So I yes, I agree with Stiglitz on this one.(less)

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May 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
There is a part of me that would like to make this review a bit funny. This is a deeply disturbing book. I’ve a preference for humour as a means of confronting the deeply disturbing. But I can’t bring myself to say anything remotely funny about this book.

Klein compares some psychological experiments (torture by any reasonable definition of the word) carried out in the 1950s in Canada (funded by the CIA off US soil so they could plausibly deny they were researching torture) in which patients were
Bill Kerwin
Oct 08, 2007 rated it really liked it

Using shock treatment as a metaphor, Klein analyzes the importance of economic dislocations and disasters to the success of Milton Friedman's free market philosophy. This is an important book, and shows why the apparent stupidities of the Bush administration in Iraq and Katrina are actually deliberate measures designed to daze and demoralize people into accepting a radical free-market agenda.
David Gross
Jun 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: political-theory
I only got about ¼ into this. I don't like the shifty way Klein argues her points. I felt like I was being propagandized rather than educated.

Much of her main “shock doctrine” argument seems to be just sort of a tightly-woven set of linguistic parallels that are meant to suggest causation. Something like: Hitler had the autobahn built. The autobahn allowed drivers to finally race where they wanted to go. Hitler crafted what he thought of as the final solution to a race problem. So you see, highw
Will Byrnes

This was a very illuminating work about how chaotic situations are used, and sometimes created, as cover for the imposition of drastic economic and political reorganization in vulnerable economies. The end product of these actions is a so-called free market model as advocated by the Chicago School of Milton Friedman and his acolytes. Examples used include Chile, China, Argentina, Bolivia, South Africa, Russia, among others. The technique is for western financial powers to swoop in during a time
Mar 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
“The lucky get Kevlar, the rest get prayer beads.”

This is a chilling, writhing outrage of a book. A hideous, squealing beast of a book that cannot and should not be ignored.

Klein has dropped the curtain on an ugly, malevolent Wizard. When these kind of curtains drop, we never like what we see. Like so many of these kinds of leftist exposes on conservatives, the Bush Administration, the neocons and their rabble, this book needn’t have been written. Orwell wrote it already. But better than any oth
Oct 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: any intelligent person who has read Thomas Friedman
This is an ambitious book. It tries to tie the economic politics of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia (in the 1970s), Russia, Poland, China, South Africa (in the 1980s and early nineties), the war in Iraq, the tsunami, and hurricane Katrina into a unified theory. Obviously, certain investigative and interpretive biases are required to make this work. Third world nationalism and developmentalism, in general, get off pretty easy in Klein's analysis. As a specialist in Indonesia, I found her portrayal of t ...more
Riku Sayuj

"Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent."
~ Mao

I read it once, and I couldn't believe it.

I tried reading it again and I believe it even less.

I want to, honestly. And I feel as strongly as the author that The Shock Doctrine is changing the world. But it runs in the face of all economics I have been taught and I find myself scorning and muttering 'alarmist' to some of the more provocative paragraphs.

Thesis: The history of the contemporary free market was written in
The Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is an eye-opening, scathing critique of neo-liberalism and corporatism. Klein extensively examines disaster capitalism complex - a new form of economy built on fear in the wake of a mind-numbing crisis. Based on Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and the Chicago boys' economic theory, disaster capitalism involves the implementation of unpopular, radical free market reforms by exploiting the period of collective shock right after a national crisis ...more
(spoilers ahead, but it's not fiction so don't worry about it)

Where do I begin? This is a failed Noam Chomsky book.

Firstly, Klein is working with a strange definition of capitalism. When the free market economists who Klein refers to (like Friedman and Hayek) talk about capitalism they are referring to an economic system free of government intervention. Klein however uses the word capitalist to refer to the current economic model– one in which governments and corporations work in tandem to explo
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's 2007 and Naomi Klein builds a rather convincing argument about modern governmental/corporational trends.

I've personally never seen it laid out so baldly, but after having read several dozen of political books, perhaps an equivalent number of documentaries, and a lot of otherwise independent research into the topics herein, I'm willing to concede that she has a very valid point.

What is the point?

Modern economics theories are used to lay out a rather obvious plan of mass looting. They're cons
Rhyd Wildermuth
I just finished The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein. It came out months ago, and I would’ve read it sooner had it not cost $45 dollars in Canada.

Much of the information meticulously detailed in the book was already available in Harper’s Magazine and DemocracyNow!, though never put together so throroughly. She begins her book with a discussion of a canadian woman who endured several years of experimental psychiatric work under the authority of David Cameron, worki
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada-eh
One of the problems with Klein's bestselling jeremiad against the progressive global implementation of so-called free market policies over the past four decades is her attempts to link them, as a calculated stratagem, to the unsavory experimentation conducted in the fifties and sixties, by the CIA and their associated medical personnel, with personality modification and torture techniques designed to harvest information from subjects after rendering them vulnerable through administering disorien ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very disturbing book indeed. I can't decide whether I feel that her paranoia got out of control, or whether it is indeed a fair representation of US foreign policy over the last 30-40 years. A lot of it rings true. Though I hope that the links between torture and economic theory are not as clear as she paints them... that was the part I had the hardest time swallowing. Maybe we will learn more now that the Neo-Cons are going to lose control of the US.


I can't
Daniel Burton
Jan 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
Because I'm about 3 pages away from returning it to the library, I've all but stopped reading this (and a buddy has told me that there are only specific passages that are worth reading, so I'll go find them, instead). It is so full of ad hominem, straw man, "just-because-it-was-done-by-the-GOP,-free-marketists,-or-people-who-liked-Milton-Friedman,-so-it-MUST-be-bad" arguments that I am wondering what it I am supposed to get out of what feels a lot like a left-wing rant? Klien hasn't actually arg ...more
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every human on the planet
Shelves: activism, thinking, issues
I would seriously like to see every human on this planet read this book. I can’t think of any other book I would more highly recommend today.

The whole text was rich in the exposing of history and deep analysis. I strongly encourage anyone reading it to stick through to the end. The bulk of the book covers quite terrible things in the world, but the last chapter actually made me very hopeful and inspired.

Utterly brilliant!
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone curious as to why they are now unemployed
As someone who used to consume nonfiction with the voracious appetite of a trucker at an Old Country Buffet, I find it odd and not a little unsettling that, since joining Goodreads, a solid 95% of my reading material has come from the fiction side of the bookstore. While this has definitely helped fill some dramatic gaps in my knowledge, it was with much relief that I tucked myself into Klein's The Shock Doctrine earlier this week. I'd attempted reading this in the heady afterglow of the electio ...more
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shocking, to liberals…

[2020 Update on old reviews]
--My ultimate hope with influential (large platform, accessible), progressive public intellectuals like Klein is:
1) they inspire as many as possible (given their specific audiences/reach) and
2) their audiences do not get stuck on this one thinker's ideological progression, but continue to explore for themselves.
--Klein has been successful with engaging especially the North American/Western “center-left”, what I think of as “default l
Mario the lone bookwolf
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book can affect worldview, authority faith and believe in official history

Please note that I have put the original German to the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

Klein unleashes the shocking and disturbing facts of an economic policy practiced over more than four decades that can be described as a novelty of contempt for human beings, megalomania, and madness. Also, that wants to mean something because of the recent, not entirely bloodless world history.

One of the found
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism was a riveting look at the policies advocated by economist Milton Friedman and his many followers at The Chicago School of Economics. Basically, it is a deliberate and strategic use of shock therapy to implement unpopular policies, utilizing the exploitation of national crises. The thinking is that the population would be so traumatized by the crises at hand, that they would pay little attention to what was happening, nor would they have the ca ...more
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone - it's a must read!
There is a kind of history that gets overlooked, that doesn't get taught in schools or universities aside from a fourth-year optional course that no one bothers to take. It's a history that is fundamental to understanding our world, both past and present and where the hell we're going. It's a history that touches everyone, regardless of class, gender, race or age, but that slips out the back door before anyone thinks to call it to account, put it on trial and expose its heinous crimes. I'm talki ...more
Will likely vacillate between 4 and 5 stars but wow a little too much truth unvarnished. What might have been considered some sort of wild-eyed conspiracy tome 12 years ago; ages into an all too plausible explanation. Ugh. More thoughts to follow...

Updated 5/20/2020

Never wrote a proper review but I had good notes from reading. Just posting my my notes..

· Very prescient
· Klein starts with immoral medical experiments to set the stage
o Theory was that to cure
aPriL does feral sometimes
'The Shock Doctrine' describes how rich men rape poor countries while supposedly saving it. It is a sickening read. The book describes how Milton Friedman's economic theories work when put into practice by admirers such as the American Republican Party, and the second President George Bush.

Friedman's ideas have consistently produced failing States. Iraq is one example the author discusses with plenty of evidence of how it is done: outsource the war to private security firms and the following pl
Jan 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody
Shelves: politics
There are many detailed and eloquent reviews of this book already; however, I still feel like I have to write a review about this important book.

I've wondered for years why the world is the way it is. Why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Why countries in Latin America and Africa are so poor and undeveloped. "Geez, South Africa, why can't you just get your s**t together and be like America? In fact, why can't all these countries be like us, what's wrong with them?" Well, ladies and g
E. G.
Blank Is Beautiful: Three Decades of Erasing and Remaking the World

--The Shock Doctrine

Mar 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Three recent articles in The Guardian are particularly interesting in the light of Naomi Klein’s conclusions in this book. On the one hand, "'Day of Wrath' brings Russians on to the streets against Vladimir Putin" bears out her thesis of citizen blowback against unrestrained capitalism. So apparently does "How China's internet generation broke the silence". That article, however, goes on to note:

Many in the west see it as self-evident that an increased flow of information will make officials mo
Conor Ahern
Not sure how much more piercing looks I can take into America's rotten, blackened core, but that is due more to fatigue than to any criticism I had of this book. Klein presents to us a world that is so paralyzed and bamboozled by entropy and bureaucracy that the only way to catalyze meaningful change is to either take advantage of or foment massive disasters--whether in terms of disaster response, warfare, or regime change. She starts with Allende's Chile, as all books of this ilk do, and moves ...more
Jose Moa
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, politics
The extremisms and fanatisms normally gets out the worst of the human being giving way to intolerance and many times physical elimination of those that dont share its ideas and by that giving way to mass murders and genocides.

There are religion,racial and politic economic extermisms or fanatisms,

In the 20 century there were several mass murders and genocides originated in this extremisms.

The christian Armenian genocide was a religious genocide.

The jews and gipsies genocide by the nazis was a rac
Mar 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Dear Naomi Klein,
I recently finished reading your latest book, The Shock Doctrine. Your detailed account of the connections between neoliberal economic policy and the use of violent repression, the decline of welfare states, and the rise of corporatized war and disaster capitalism is compelling. You thread together the recent histories of military brutality in the Southern Cone of South America, union busting in Margaret Thatcher’s England, and the Tiananmen Square massacre in China. Through th
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who like Chomsky, Parenti, and Polanyi
Recommended to Naeem by: paul puhr
The mid-book review (see below) holds up. I have finished the book and it is not a good book. It is a great book. Klein has really achieved something here. Politics, economics, international relations, culture, ideology, and the human capacity to resist domination -- all come together here.

Klein's global range and tremendous detail are really heartening to me.

Below is the mid-book review written a few days ago:

I am up to chapter 11 (out of 22). So this is a mid-book review.

There is much more
Wow. This and Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America, which Klein cited frequently, are the two best books I've read in years.

What's amazing is that none of the historical or current events she covered were really new to me--I read the papers, I'm up on my Latin American history, and I'd had a basic understanding of Chicago School ideology... but she pointed out connections between them all that I hadn't seen before. I felt her analogizes between economic shock therapy and torture practic
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Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, documentary filmmaker and author of the international bestsellers No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. She is a senior correspondent for The Intercept and her writing appears widely in such publications as The New York T

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