AT CENTURY'S END by Nathan P. Gardels


Great Minds Reflect on Our Times
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 A mixed bag of prescriptions and proscriptions for understanding--and remaking--the world. Gardels, editor of New Perspectives Quarterly, a journal of political opinion, gathers what he holds to be the most important pieces published there over the last decade. This collection offers some fine, tightly reasoned, and sometimes quite unexpected analyses of global problems. One highlight is ``The Fate of the Religious Imagination'' by Polish exile and Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz, who views the collapse of communism with a jaundiced eye, forecasting ``the intensification of the mood of hopelessness, going together with rapacious consumerism.'' Another is a provocative study by Pakistani scholar Akbar S. Ahmed of the Western dislike for Islam, a dislike fueled by the media. ``Muslims ask: now that the Western media have helped conquer communism, who will be their next opponent? It is not difficult to guess: Islam.'' He explains that in the age of media, there are enormous pressures on the more traditional religious cultures to change and modernize. Still another notable piece is an interview with French philosopher Bernard Henri-LÇvy, who foresees future Bosnias waiting to happen all around us, the result of ethnic hatred that permeates Europe. Not all the contributions are quite so useful, however. One disappointing essay comes from the French sociologist Jean Baudrillard, who believes that ``America lives primarily in nature and the unconscious realm of myths and symbols,'' which presumably explains why we Americans are so beastly and simpleminded. Another is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's strange look at the new Russia, which includes the mysterious pronouncement that modern humankind's lack of a ``clear and calm attitude toward death'' is the leading agent of our intellectual disarray. A mixed bag, indeed, but full of interest.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-883051-05-3
Page count: 328pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1995