“We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves” George Orwell in 1984

 

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THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick

There are some books, perhaps just one or two, that make such a deep and lasting impression so as to become a permanent point of reference. For me The Untold History of the United States is just such a book. It has gathered together into one place, filled in the gaps, coloured in the outlines of American history where previously suspicions lurked in my mind as to the authenticity of much of the received history of this once great land. I could not understand how America, that began so well and with such great promise could have deteriorated into the greatest threat to peace on the planet. Her unabated expansionism, unabashed arrogance and complete disregard of international law is just mind-blowing. Yet it is also a weak country with a debt that threatens to destroy it. It is a country full of violence that exports that violence overseas.

The book has not answered all my questions and has raised many more, but for anyone facing the same dilemma of mind it is a useful book. One of the book's greatest assets is that it is full of useful references, particularly books. The extensive bibliography is of as much value as the book itself. Most of the books referred to are either new or still available on the second-hand market and usually inexpensive. Whatever the particular aspect of American history is of interest, there are some good signposts given. With almost 700 pp of fine print to wade through, it is a marathon read that deserves to be studied thoroughly and slowly.

It is, of course, the book of the film, but the book is far better and covers more ground. The project began in 2008 with the British screenwriter Matt Graham co-writing the script. It looks at such things as the reasons behind the Cold War and Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb. Using newly uncovered archive material and other little known documents it looks at some of the darkest aspects of American history. It goes beyond simply recording facts, uncovering some of the deeper causes and their meaning for today. The first three episodes of the film were premiered at the New York Film Festival on 6th October, 2012 where it was described as ‘extremely compelling’ and ‘daring’.

From the Introduction:

“The United States’ run as global hegemon ― the most powerful and dominant nation the world has ever seen ― has been marked by proud achievements and terrible disappointments. It is the latter ― the darker side of US history ― that we explore in the following pages. We don’t try to tell all of US history. That would be an impossible task. … We are profoundly disturbed by the direction of US policy at a time when the United States was recently at war in three Muslim countries and carrying out drone attacks, best viewed as target assassinations, in at least six others. Why does our country have military bases in every region of the globe, totalling more than a thousand by some counts? Why does the United States spend as much money on its military as the rest of the world combined? Why does it still possess thousands of nuclear weapons, many on hair trigger alert, even though no nation poses an imminent threat? Why is the gap between rich and poor greater in the United States than in any other developed country, and why is the United States the only advanced nation without a universal health care programme?

Why do such a tiny number of people ― whether the figure is currently 500 or 2000 ― control more wealth than the world’s poorest 3 billion? Why are a tiny minority of wealthy Americans allowed to exert so much control over US domestic politics, foreign policy, and media while the great masses see a diminution of their real power and standards of living? Why have Americans submitted to levels of surveillance, government intrusion, abuse of civil liberties, and loss of privacy that would have appalled the Founding Fathers and earlier generations?  …”

Comments on the book:

"A masterpiece" ― Daniel Ellsberg

"Indispensible" ― Mikhail Gorbachev

"This is not a history for history's sake ... this is the history of our present and future, long beyond the Cold War, into war and terror, war on drugs" ― Ed Vulliamy

"Kuznick and Stone's Untold History is the most important historical narrative of this certury" ― Martin J. Sherwin

 The Authors:

"Director Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick examine the dark side of American history, from the beginning of the twentieth century right up to the Obama administration. They ask whether America's involvement in contries around the globe really reflects its much-vaunted democratic ideals, or self-interested action for political and economic gain. The Untold History is a meticulously researched and shocking picture of the American Empire, and its influence on the century's defining events."

 

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Other book reviews:

THE WAR AGAINST PUTIN by M. S. King

FRONTINE UKRAINE:crisis in the borderlands by Richard Sakwa

BRITAIN FOR SALE: British Companies in Foreign Hands - the Hidden Threat to Our Economy, by Alex Brummer

HOW CORRUPT IS BRITAIN?edited by David Whyte

DEUTSCHLAND SCHAFT SICH AB: Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen, by Thilo Sarrazin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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