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American Power and the New Mandarins: Historical and Political Essays

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  372 ratings  ·  15 reviews
American Power and the New Mandarins is Noam Chomskys first political book, widely considered to be among the most cogent and powerful statements against the American war in Vietnam. Long out of print, this collection of early, seminal essays helped to establish Chomsky as a leading critic of United States foreign policy. These pages mount a scathing critique of the ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published 2002 by New Press (first published 1967)
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Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
A really nice look at intellectual responsibility during times of aggression--in this case, Vietnam. I was concerned about the length of the book as Chomsky can be pretty long-winded / academic when he wants to be but the essays contained in this volume were concise, moving, and very accessible.
Jul 30, 2017 marked it as perhaps-i-will-read-hard-to-say
Shelves: american-history

I have a note to myself to read the chapter "Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship." Apparently recommended by Rosalind E. Krauss in Passages in Modern Sculpture, but I can't remember why specifically she was recommending it.
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was Chomsky's first book of political writings, originally released in 1969 during the United States' war against Vietnam. It was reissued by The New Press in 2002 as the Bush administration was attempting to take advantage of the anger over the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 to initiate military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I read some of the more substantial pieces here ("Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship" and "The Responsibility of Intellectuals") around twenty years ago
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Chomsky takes apart the idea that the USA is the greatest country in the world - and makes us all better off for having him there to stick a pin in our fantasies about America's influence in the world.
Katie Bayford
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
A moderately interesting book, but easy to see why it was out of print for so long. Chomsky offers a notably anarchist critique of the Vietnam war, but his thought and understanding are both slightly unsophisticated and subject to a lot of confirmation bias, and it makes the book more of a snapshot into certain left-wing critiques of the Vietnam war whilst it was still being undertaken, rather than a a valuable piece to read decades after the war has finished.
Mike Keane
Oct 29, 2007 marked it as to-read
i started this now i can't find my copy - did i lend this to you?
Nov 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Chomsky demolishes liberal intellectuals' pretensions of moral superiority and honest scholarship.
Erik Graff
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Beginning before my birth with support for the French recolonization of Indochina after the war, US military involvement in Southeast Asia formed a significant portion of the backdrop of my youth. First, there was the Laotian adventure of the Kennedy administration, then the public introduction of armed "advisors" to support CIA-led efforts against Vietnam. Well indoctrinated, I'd supported these things, even writing a research paper on the subject during the first year at high school, until the ...more
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Noam Chomsky's first political book is a collection of essays dealing mostly with US aggression in foreign countries, focusing primarily on Vietnam. In addition, Chomsky discusses the important role that scholars (the "new" mandarins) play in this aggression and the view of the public in regards to the war. It's quite remarkable to see that Chomsky has been consistent in his argument for over 50 years.

American Power and the New Mandarins argues that American policy in foreign countries is
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays is fascinating because they were written in the midst of the war. Some later analyses may be more complete, but the truth and sense of urgency in Chomsky's prose can't be beat. I would recommend selecting a few essays of the bunch to read first, rather than plowing through the whole volume in one go.
Mike Fehrenbacher
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Chomsky cuts through the bullshit to expose the hypocritical moral authority our country uses to justify acts of terror and aggression, specifically calling out the complicity of the intellectual community. Though written in 1968, the lessons of this book are vital today, and for the citizens of any large, powerful democracy.
Cameron Wilson
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
hmm I didn't finish this but I'm finished reading it. it's pretty heavy going!! but I finished the first essay which was about a third of the book and it was great !
João Padeiro
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"There's a fundamental human nature based on some intinct for freedom" N. C.
Apr 20, 2011 rated it liked it
"The search for alternatives, for individuals, for American society, for the international order as a whole, has barely begun, and no one can guess where it will lead. Quite possibly it will lead nowhere, cut off by domestic repression or its "functional equivalent," to use a favorite term of the present administration: the dominance of a liberal technocracy who will serve the existing social order in the belief that they represent justice and humanity, fighting limited wars at home and overseas ...more
Jose Rodriguez
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Very Interesting book about vietnam war but isnt a masterpiece from chomsky, i really was expecting more (i know it's an old book, but still).
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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.

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38 likes · 9 comments
“By entering into the arena of argument and counter-argument, of technical feasibility and tactics, of footnotes and citations, by accepting the presumption of legitimacy of debate on certain issues, one has already lost one’s humanity. This is the feeling I find almost impossible to repress when going through the motions of building a case against the American war in Vietnam. Anyone who puts a fraction of his mind to the task can construct a case that is overwhelming: surely this is now obvious. In a way, by doing so he degrades himself, and insults beyond measure the victims of our violence and our moral blindness. There may have been a time when American policy in Vietnam was a debatable matter. This time is long past. It is no more debatable than the Italian war in Abyssinia or the Russian suppression of Hungarian freedom. The war is simply an obscenity, a depraved act by weak and miserable men, including all of us, who have allowed it to go on and on with endless fury and destruction – all of us who would have remained silent had stability and order been secured. It is not pleasant to use such words, but candour permits no less.” 0 likes
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