Hectoring collection of Internet jeremiads by the former Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times war correspondent.
Since leaving the Times, Hedges (Death of the Liberal Class, 2010, etc.), perhaps best known for his 2002 bestseller War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, has gained a following on the American left for his weekly essays on Truthdig, from which this anthology was assembled. Taken in that dose of once per week, the author’s mordant critiques—of American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East; of the news media and its obsequious relationship to power; of the two American political parties, which, despite their noisy disagreements, share the same corporatist agenda—come across as bracing and bold. Read in one sitting, however, they grow to be strident, repetitive, humorless and sanctimonious. In his introduction, Hedges quotes a colleague who told him, “You’re not a journalist. You’re a minister pretending to be a journalist.” In fact, the author, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was working toward a divinity degree at Harvard before he decided to switch to journalism, and Hedges shakes his finger at everybody: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, the Times, Fox News, right-wing Christians, left-wing atheists, etc. Many of his well-aimed barbs hit their targets, but there is precious little relief in this self-righteous collection. By far, his best pieces are two lengthy bits of reporting, one from the Palestinian side of the Green Zone wall in the West Bank, the other from Hosni Mubarak’s security state in Egypt. Here, Hedges shows why his journalism won awards, as he takes us to places few dare to go.
Best either for serious Hedges fans or read in small doses.