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Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization…

Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization

by Derrick Jensen

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Jensen gets a ton of credit from me just having the balls (or ovaries, as he would qualify) to write this stuff. It is indeed a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the psychopathology of our civilization, perhaps the best I've read. He provides convincing arguments with such precision that it is difficult to refute them. His stance on violence has been revelatory for me, and has gone a long way toward helping me flesh out my own ideas on the subject.

That said, I do have problems with the book, mostly stylistic. The book is incredibly engaging for its length, but it gets bogged down at times, for various reasons:

-It is too long. He hammers the same points home over and over again (especially if you've already read [b:A Language Older Than Words|60970|A Language Older Than Words|Derrick Jensen|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348885063s/60970.jpg|2070741] and [b:The Culture of Make Believe|60973|The Culture of Make Believe|Derrick Jensen|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348888776s/60973.jpg|59301]), and I found myself skimming, especially toward the end of the book. I know that he's reserving it for the 2nd volume, but I got tired of hearing about how "we're going to get into" the stuff we can actually do to fix this, and never actually getting there over 450 pages.

-His narrative style is uneven. He vacillates between 1) a very informal and personal conversational style, bordering on cheesy, annoying or intrusive (including endnotes), and 2) erudite scholarship, showcasing his large vocabulary and impressive structure (even though pervasive use of words like "reification" and "palliate" were more confusing than clarifying). There seemed to be no real pattern between stylistic shifts, making it jarring and distracting.

-He comes across as not exactly arrogant, but maybe just pretentious and immature. This is most evident in his overuse of the [sic:] device, which is funny at first but then just becomes ridiculous. He should give his readers credit for being able to detect irony. Overall, Jensen strikes me as a fascinating guy, super-intelligent, and someone I'd definitely like to meet and have a conversation with. Though judging by his writing, any sort of regular social interactions would get annoying (there I go with some pretentiousness of my own).

-He does a good job of explaining (rationalizing?) his reluctance to blow up any dams himself, and I do admire his honesty and humility in confessing this. Nonetheless, it damages his credibility, and I imagine it will continue to do so until he eventually drops the keyboard and picks up the C4 (as he intimates he comes closer to doing every day). I respect and agree with his opinion that he is providing a unique service in his capacity as writer/speaker, but the credibility gap remains. When/if he takes the plunge, I'll certainly miss his writing, but be more impressed by his example. ( )
  blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
Derrick Jensen doesn't seem quite as on top of it in this book - he seems angrier and more tired, and it feels less cohesive. It's like Culture of Make Believe was a heartbreaking knife of a book, and this new one is a giant blunt axe. It is so brutal that it's difficult to get through, even for long-time readers of Jensen. It's given me weeks of nightmares.

Why, then, should you read it? Because this is the world we live in, and these are the facts, and at some point we will all have to face up to them, and it's just not going to get easier. Start now. ( )
1 vote paperloverevolution | Mar 29, 2013 |
It took me almost seven months to finish Endgame. Not because it's a hard read – it's not – but for two other reasons: it's annoying, and it's tiresome.Derrick Jensen makes a very radical case against not just capitalism or government, but all of civilization. Which means, basically, that he'd like us to go back to being hunter-gatherers. He argues that our way of living is harmful and unsustainable, and make several good points. Jensen's discourse is violent, and he makes it clear that he believes violence is the only way out of the system. There is a lot to think about in this book, and much of it is uncomfortable, going against our most fundamental conceptions of what life is like and what it should be like.Unfortunately, however, Jensen seems to be a very immature and scarred person, and that shows prominently in his writing. The text is overflowing with childishly sarcastic comments, and he regards anyone with views different from his as stupid or insane. He more than once finishes an argument by saying "duh". Endgame often reads like it was written by an angry teenager. That doesn't help. It annoys and insults the reader, and takes the focus away from the argument.The author, also, having had a very troubling childhood (some of which he shares with us), seems a bit obsessed with rape and abuse, often giving the impression that he thinks of all men as potential rapists and all women as saintly and perfect.This book is a good read, and is sure to leave the reader thinking about much of what they take for granted. I only wish it had been written by someone more level. ( )
  clpm | Aug 3, 2011 |
This book is full of great points, interesting ideas, and a good sense of humor. But it's sorely lacking the red pen of an editor. At over 400 pages, Jensen's book is already too long — and it's only part 1 of a two-volume series. Heaven forbid. The length makes Jensen's prose grow tiring. Some rambles could be cut down and reptition removed entirely. I might read Vol. 2 at some point — because Jensen's discussion of civilization is spot-on and his analysis very necessary — but after struggling through the 450-some pages of this tome, I have to take a break from Jensen's writing. ( )
1 vote csoki637 | Jan 7, 2010 |
This book is emotionally draining. It's very good, but I find the author to be frustratingly repetitive at times. He does make a lot of good points about how nonviolence is totally ineffective, so I feel like it was a good book to read after having just read How Nonviolence Protects the State. ( )
1 vote lemontwist | Dec 28, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 158322730X, Paperback)

The long-awaited companion piece to Derrick Jensen's immensely popular and highly acclaimed works A Language Older Than Words and The Culture of Make Believe. Accepting the increasingly widespread belief that industrialized culture inevitably erodes the natural world, Endgame sets out to explore how this relationship impels us towards a revolutionary and as-yet undiscovered shift in strategy. Building on a series of simple but increasingly provocative premises, Jensen leaves us hoping for what may be inevitable: a return to agrarian communal life via the disintegration of civilization itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:01 -0400)

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