I Wanna Be Literated #222

I Wanna Be Literated #222

Thursday, 04 June 2020

The Essential Chomsky (New Press Essential)
by Noam Chomsky, Anthony Arnove (Editor)

What can I possibly say about Noam Chomsky that hasn’t been already said or said better than I possibly could? And whatever can be said probably underrates him. We can try to communicate the importance of reading and understanding Chomsky, but we’d still fall short of truly explaining how much we can gain from him. Oh, to long for such a time when the elderly were actually full of knowledge. And with such a massive body or work, who would possibly know where to start. Well, I might, but that’s not why we’re here…

A book called the Essential Chomsky sounds like an easy place to start for newcomers, and as far as scope is concerned, this definitely does the trick. This book contain choice cuts, speeches, and essays on a variety of topics ranging from linguistics, the understanding of the human mind, US foreign policy, East Timor, Israel/Palestine, South America, Nicaragua, Vietnam, 911, and Iraq. It’s only 450 pages but it’s most certainly dense and covers a lot of ground. It also has small font and big pages. And yet, I didn’t exactly love this book. Having read Chomsky over the years I’ve come to appreciate his interview books a lot more, because he’s able to communicate his ideas in plain English. Most of the stuff here is very academic and verbose, and apparently written with a scholarly audience in mind. So as far as the linguistics and headier topics like what comes first the mind or the brain, forget it. You’re not going to make heads or tails out of it unless you have some sort of basic understanding of the subject or reread those chapters over and over again. And unfortunately, there are several chapters dedicated to that. Another reason why this is a tough book to tackle is that there are so many topics covered that unless one is familiar with the subject, it’s hard to put what he’s writing about in context. For example, I know very little about NATO and the US/British involvement in Serbia, so I wasn’t able to completely follow what he’s talking about.

This book would probably be of more value to someone who has a good understanding of history, and it shows just how much Chomsky understands about what goes on in the world. You can’t expect an introductory paragraph to each chapter, but it wouldn’t have hurt, honestly.

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