THE GREAT BETRAYAL by Patrick J. Buchanan


How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy
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This book is exactly what you expect it to be. As a political adviser, journalist, and presidential candidate, Buchanan is no shrinking violet, and after only a few pages, the reader of this volume will wonder if he writes his drafts in all caps. Whatever one’s politics, it is impossible not to marvel at Buchanan’s energy, individuality, and certainty about the world. The unique thing about Buchanan is not that he defies labeling, but rather that so many borderline oxymoronic labels apply: populist Republican partisan; strident nostalgic nationalist; social conservative intent on stirring things up. And, of course, there are the villains that populate Buchanan’s world: “cloistered academics,” “new-class journalists,” economists, elites, Washington, D.C., and, of course, liberals. But while the effects of an odd selective vision (magnifying what he wants to see and obscuring complicating factors) are everywhere, it would be a mistake to read this book only for the entertainment value. Buchanan begins with a harangue about free traders killing America, follows with a protectionist’s history of America, and concludes with recent events that indicate the forces of good may yet triumph over the evil of free trade. While trade is the surface theme throughout, however, the deeper argument reveals more about Buchanan’s politics. But what is it? He claims to be writing about economic justice, “closing the divisions and easing the tensions in society that emanate from the economic order,” but this claim is suspect. At best such concerns are addressed indirectly while carefully skirting genuinely redistributive policies. A more likely candidate is his distinction between nationalists and globalists, ultimately a cultural and intellectual rather than an economic division. This seems to be the culture war Buchanan wants to fight and where he toys with moving beyond strong arguments to demagogic rhetoric. Inspiring and infuriating. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: April 13th, 1998
ISBN: 0-316-11518-5
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998


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