The Rebirth of Tyranny in America
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 From virtuoso trial-lawyer Spence, defender of Karen Silkwood and Imelda Marcos: a fiery ``collection of free-floating thoughts about freedom.'' Spence is profoundly uncomfortable with the socioeconomic interdependence caused by our complex economy. Seeing serfdom everywhere in ordinary American life--in employment, religion, the media, home mortgages--he recognizes that freedom is a burden, and that people often enter into imprisoning relationships, jobs, and commitments in order to escape the loneliness and want that accompany unalloyed freedom. In traditional American populist fashion, he denounces corporate America and government bureaucracy each as a ``New King'' that has ruthlessly despoiled the environment while enslaving the people. Spence decries the ``breathing dead''--virtually anyone who cooperates with the materialism of our society, whether as a corporate employee, a homeowner, a consumer, or as a member of the media audience--and he deplores not just external tyrannies but also what he considers tyrannies of mind and soul: TV-generated consumerism and violence (``[We] comport ourselves like lumpen slobs drooling at the trough where we are slopped like anthropomorphic hogs with the vacuous fare corporate America throws at us''; religious traditions (``cages of the mind''); and convention. The author condemns the poverty of much of society, as well as the domination of our national power structure by males, and he proudly displays his own concept of freedom by dubbing himself a ``tree-hugger'' and imagining a dialogue with a trial judge in which Spence argues that trees have rights like human beings. Finally, Spence lyrically celebrates the ``kingdom of the self''--a realm in which, he says, individuals have the power to liberate themselves. Spence--courageous and individualistic in the best American tradition--scores some eloquent points (he's at his most fluent when writing about his beloved American West and its people); but, mostly, he exhorts with the sort of angry rhetoric that might move a jury but that often falls flat on the page.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09467-1
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1993


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