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Last Jubilee weekend I was wandering round Bury St Edmunds, poking about its excellent market and shops (imagine an up-market King’s Lyn with less violence) and found, in a book shop, the above slim little number by Penguin.

It’s one of their “Special” series wheeled out smartish to fill an immediate need to keep an interested audience up to date on fast moving events.  Which is admirable.  However, in many ways this all too slim special is special only in the way “pot-boiler” is special.

It consists of an address Chomsky gave recently to the Occupy Boston group, plus a further interview and question and answer session on American foreign policy, all wrapped up with a tribute to his recently deceased friend Howard Zinn.  Tacked on at the very end, seemingly as a filler, is some advice to American protestors on their legal rights.  It’s a mixed bag.

Chomsky is a fine writer, but despite his years of lecturing he is not a good orator, so the speech to the troops in Boston does not have that classic quality I had hoped for.  Expect no Shelley here.

That said, there is still much that one might take as interesting.  Firstly readers may be surprised at the strikingly moderate tone of the book.  There is a sense, I felt, almost of defeatism.  This is no call to revolution, rather a plea to abandon apathy and to challenge inequality by engaging in the political process at all levels,  a reasoned appraisal that in order to achieve change we too have to change.  Has the death of his old friend left Noam as a burned out fire?

At £5.00 it is reasonably priced – if you are a Chomsky fan.  It is after all, not even the price of two good Sunday papers, and if like me you had a longish journey to fill the next day it’s probably fair enough.  But it’s no great shakes.

Copyright David Macadam 2012

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