Michael Totten

Power and the Idealists

Paul Berman’s new book Power and the Idealists will be published this Fall.
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I can’t vouch for this book because I haven’t read it. But I can certainly vouch for his last book Terror and Liberalism. It is by far the best I’ve read yet about the Terror War. (It was Berman, I think, who coined the phrase “Terror War,” which I have stolen from him and used myself ever since. It’s at least a minor improvement on “War Against Terrorism.”)
Here’s the description of his new book from Amazon.com:

In January 2001, a scandal erupted when a series of photos from 1968 emerged showing German foreign minister Joschka Fischer and a group of leftist street toughs assaulting a cop. Paul Berman, one of the leading essayists and intellectual historians of the New Left, uses this event as a springboard to reflect on a crucial question for Western democracies today: was the violence-tinged radicalism of the 1960s and 1970s a force for social good or for social ill? This wide-ranging history of anti-totalitarianism explores the Left’s response to human rights abuses around the world, tracing the intellectual evolution of figures as various as Polish dissident Adam Michnik and Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran) to argue that liberals willing to use power to protect human rights are the true heirs of the radical sixties, and that the Islamic totalitarian impulse he identified in the New York Times bestseller Terror and Liberalism must be opposed with vigor.

If you haven’t read Terror and Liberalism yet, read the essay by the same name he published in The American Prospect right after 9/11. If anything is required reading, this is it.