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The End of America: Letter of Warning to a…

The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (2007)

by Naomi Wolf

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Okay, I'll get it out of the way right up front. I'm beginning to realize that Chelsea Green does not do a good job of editing books. Some of the errors here were so blatant a third grader could have spotted them. Okay, got that off my chest. Now to the book itself. The book was written during the closing years of the Bush 43 administration, amid the writer's concern that we were moving toward fascism. It would be easy to dismiss that idea when the Obama years seemed so much more democratic (but were they?), but now that we are entering the countdown to 2020 with another budding fascist in the White House, it is frightening to look back on the things Congress was doing to give away their power to the president, and in some cases, power that no one is supposed to have because the Constitution forbids it. Most of this happened unnoticed, some of it even in the middle of the night, and only such as were political junkies even knew it happened. Many of us weren't sure what it all meant. The author does a good job of laying that out, of examining the various tools that Congress and the people willingly handed over to a president who has been gaining power for at least a century. Nearly all, if not all, of those tools still remain in place, and can be picked up at any time by a president who lacks integrity and desires absolute power. The author examines other dictatorships around the world, especially those that grew out of democracy like fascist Italy and Nazi Germany - not implying that our country was Nazi Germany, but just looking at the ways in which democracy can be subverted in a very short period of time. Should be required reading in all Civics classes, if only we taught such a thing anymore (and the English teachers could use it to demonstrate how to find sentences missing words or with added words, or with bad punctuation - a double win for a small book). ( )
  Devil_llama | May 27, 2019 |
A "letter' written by Wolf during the George W Bush era detailing why she believes that the Republican party is strategizing to become a permanent majority and keep control of the US government. She lists the ten steps a leader will take to " close down a democracy or crush a prodemocratic movement, whether by capitalists, communists or right-wing fascists."

The ten steps:
1) Invoke an External and Internal Treat
2) Establish secret prisons
3) Develop a Paramilitary Force
4) Survey Ordinary Citizens
5) Infiltrate Citizen Groups
6) Arbitrarily Detain and Release Civilians
7) Target Key Individuals
8) Restrict the Press
9) Cast Criticism as "espionage" and Dissent as 'treason"
10) Subvert the rule of law

Wolf gives examples of how GWB put all these steps into action. The book was written before Obama won the 2008 election. According to Wolf if the Republicans had won America would have become a fascist state. Now the USA has a new president who is already putting these steps into action. Some of them he can skip -- the secret prisons and paramilitary forces of the Bush era still exist. It's a very scary time. Wolf's main advice to defeat a fascist take over of the government, is for all Americans to become and remain "awoke". ( )
  VioletBramble | Feb 1, 2017 |
Absolutely essential read. Our freedoms are crumbling right in front of us. Naomi Wolf looks into history to find out what that means for our future. ( )
  djshiva | Nov 4, 2014 |
The end of America by Naomi Wolf 2007 155p pol
This book is a political type of pamphlet showing that the US government with all the checks and balances placed by the founding fathers to keep it democratic,it can revert to a dictatorship very easily and has had periods in its history when this has happened.
The founding fathers were revolutionary at the time democracy with equality and liberty were considered seditious and this is not appreciated today..There are periods in question like slavery, the cancelation of habeas corpus by Lincoln, the Jim Crow laws and lynching in the south the internment of Japanese, the Mc Cathy purges, and now since 9/11 and Guantoonama Bay.
The book tells of the Blackwater mercenary organization that is a private army available for use and hires the worst thugs and is a law unto itself an insult to a democratic country. They were used to keep order after Katrina.
There are examples of how both Mussolini and Hitler controlled and manipulated the media and even in America at times the press has become self censoring or people are scared to lead opposition group or sign protest petitions. Bush younger took the USA into war in Iraq wth a lie. Lies are a tool used by dictators till the public cannot identify the truth.
The silver lining is that a lot of people must have been aware of what was going on because there was large turnout at the polls and a Democrat was elected in 2008. High voter turnout and regular change not allowing one party to become entrenched is good for democracy. ( )
  MauriceRogevMemorial | Mar 7, 2014 |
A good book for a beginning liberal, but ultimately this book is long on problems and short on solutions. I mostly agreed with Wolf throughout, but lost patience with her arguments after awhile, anxious for solutions that never came. I probably should have known better just by looking at the conclusion, "A Patriot's Task," which is a whopping two pages long.

Wolf presented a lot of valuable information, and a lot of the book works well as a history lesson. Particularly enlightening and frightening to me were chapters 3 ("Establishing Secret Prisons"), 4 ("Develop a Paramilitary Force") and 7 ("Arbitrarily Detain and Release Prisoners," about the disintegration of habeas corpus). In the "Restrict the Press" chapter, she makes some important points about the delegitimization of Truth, as well as making her most effective pitch at a solution when she calls upon bloggers to start taking their jobs more seriously.

But overall, I got tired of the comparisons to Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Stalinist Russia, modern China, Pinochet's Chile, and other dictatorships. I don't actually disagree with Wolf's point, they just provoked a "Yeah, yeah, what next then?" response. Preaching to the choir. A big problem I had with the book was my impression that Wolf exaggerates at times. An example would be, when talking about surveillance: One reason dictators demand access to such private data is that this scrutiny breaks down citizens' sense of being able to act freely against those in power.You know what, that may very well be one reason, but I can guarantee you it's not the main reason, at least in the case of the U.S. Call me naive, but I believe that illegal wiretapping probably stems from a genuine desire to catch terrorists. Throughout the book, Wolf assigns this conspiratorial thinking where I'm not sure it exists. Does Wolf really believe that G-Dub thought, "You know what we need to do? We need to break down our citizens' sense of being able to act freely against us."? It is true that many of the tactics she describes lead to abridged freedom, but I don't think she does lefties a service by fabricating this evil right wing empire-in-waiting, when most evidence points to it being a much more organic process, without one or even a group of evil masterminds guiding it. It's scary enough as it is, and we need to discuss it honestly in order to figure out how to stop it. Wolf -- perhaps unintentionally -- injects a fair amount of irrational dogmatism into the conversation. . .

. . . And then her solution is that people should magically become more informed and politically active, and just better in general. And everyone should just magically get along and learn how to cooperate and work together to demand their freedom. Very helpful, Naomi. NOT.

As an aside, the book would have gained much credibility just from a more thorough proof-reading. It's hard to take a book with so many typos seriously. ( )
  blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
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I wrote this book because I could no longer ignore the echoes between events in the past and forces at work today.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140010646X, Audio CD)

The Founding Fathers believed that the proper goal of the State was to make men and women free to develop their faculties and to pursue virtue and wisdom. Our Constitution was built around these principles, protecting civil liberties and developing a careful system of checks and balances that protected our freedom from tyranny.Naomi Wolf's latest work, The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, exposes how the escalation of executive power has eroded these core values and systems, limiting Congress's ability to make laws and our courts' power to interpret them-a scenario that our Founding Fathers foresaw and warned against. Wolf outlines in this citizen call to action-which is reminiscent of Thomas Paine's revered Common Sense-the real threats to our civil liberties that exist and explains how by working together we can stop the growing threat.The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot is the centerpiece to the American Freedom Agenda, a nonpartisan organization of which Naomi Wolf is a founding board member and which asks all Americans to support a "Freedom Pledge" to support only candidates who favor restoring the pillars of American liberty. It combines a wide host of partners, united in their belief that when it comes to the Constitution, we are neither conservative nor liberal; we are all Americans.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:16 -0400)

Author Wolf shows that there are ten classic steps would-be dictators always take when they wish to close down an open society, and shows how each of those ten steps is underway in the United States today. Our Constitution was built to protect civil liberties and develop a careful system of checks and balances which protect our freedom from tyranny. Wolf argues that the escalation of executive power has eroded these core values and systems, limiting the ability of our Congress to make laws, and of our courts to interpret them--a scenario that our Founding Fathers foresaw and warned against. In this citizen call to action, reminiscent of Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Wolf outlines the real threats to our civil liberties and explains how we can work together to save our liberty and defend our nation.--From publisher description.… (more)

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