Kirkus Reviews QR Code
ESCAPING PLATO’S CAVE by Mort Rosenblum

ESCAPING PLATO’S CAVE

How America’s Blindness to the Rest of the World Threatens Our Survival

By Mort Rosenblum

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-312-36440-3
Publisher: St. Martin's

An outraged screed against dissembling politicians, a benumbed public and a corporatized media that enables both.

Plato used the analogy of shadowed images flickering against a cave wall being mistaken for reality as a way of showing how most people are blind to the world around them. Long-time AP foreign correspondent Rosenblum (Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light, 2005, etc.) picks up the cave analogy 2,500 years later to underscore his argument that on issues ranging from globalization to the Mideast to the environment, Americans are ignorant, distracted by baubles and fiddling while the world burns. Only someone truly living in a cave would find this book eye-opening. Who doesn’t know that the invasion of Iraq was botched, that Wal-Mart underpays its workers, that the world is in a perilous state? Is this mostly the American public’s fault? Instead of a nuanced, sophisticated analysis, the author plods over familiar ground, interspersing stock left-wing talking points with dispatches from the AP that his editors refused to publish, accounts of luncheons with interesting people and eviscerations of stupid Americans unaware of the destruction they have wrought. Rosenblum is an engaging writer, and much can be learned when he delves into complex issues that require more than full-throated exhortations, such as in his chapter on the threat of global pandemics. Too often, however, he forgoes reportorial legwork for repetitions of the obvious. He fancies himself something of a sage for all his work and travel, and he certainly has the scars and bylines to show for it, but instead of suggesting solutions to the intractable problems we face, he stands on top of the cave, waving his arms and demanding we do something. Other than telling readers to watch the BBC and travel internationally, he is unable to say exactly what we should do.

Well-intentioned but a chore.