This is a fantastic book. There really is no other way that I can begin this review and do this author and his work justice without first stating that fact. The book didn’t come from a big publisher, or a huge name on the best seller list, but it is the best book that I have read this year. At the heart of this book is an intellectual journey by author Stephen Marshall. Unlike other writers who talk to their readers in a singular voice, Marshall actually goes on a journey all over the world, form New York to London, to Germany, and Serbia. Marshall travels the world and takes the reader with him on his quest to find out how the liberals of the 1960’s became the pro-war, pro-globalization pseudo-liberals of today.

In Marshall’s view, the new menace to liberalism isn’t coming from the right, but from those children of the late 60’s who gave up revolution, embraced capitalism, and tore the heart out of liberal thought in the United States. What makes this book great is that Marshall tells the story of the decline in liberal thought through interviews. Marshall doesn’t actually give the reader much of his opinion. He spends the book traveling to ask others what they think. His conversations with Christopher Hitchens, Gore Vidal, David Horowitz, Lewis Lapham, John Avalon, John Micklethwait, Alan Rusbridger, Naomi Klein, Todd Gitlin, Paul Berman, and John Perkins form the book’s backbone.

The fact that Marshall is going around the world looking for an answer to his question gives the book a linear narrative which is rarely found in non-fiction works. If this book doesn’t remind you of Hillary Clinton, who actually is the perfect human embodiment of the new liberal menace, then you are missing the point. This isn’t a book about left versus right. It is a book about how the left sold itself out and moved to the center-right in the name of progress and winning elections. It is about the word liberal being taken back to its classical meaning that stresses free markets and unencumbered capitalism at all costs. It is about the fact that the two U.S. political parties are a lot closer in thought and position on all the big issues, and how they use social issues to give the illusion to voters that their still are differences between the Democratic and Republican parties.

This book is an absolute must read for anyone who has been turned off by the two political parties, or feels that they have been abandoned by the Democratic Party. The book doesn’t preach at the reader, and for dealing with such a weighty subject matter, it is easy to read, and once you start reading it, you will have a hard time putting it down. Outside of the fact that I thought the book gave the 2004 Dean campaign way too much credit for having any kind of influence at all, it really is an amazing piece of storytelling. It eschews the sensationalism of a Michael Moore, and delivers a powerful message in a clear, and thought provoking way. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Pick it up and give it a read. You’ll be glad you did.

You can purchase the book at Amazon.com.

 

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