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Library Journal Review
Klein argues that from Russia to Iraq to post-Katrina New Orleans, people reeling from tragedy have been further assaulted by free-market "shock-treatment" aimed at helping big corporations only. With a national tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
The neo-liberal economic policies-privatization, free trade, slashed social spending-that the "Chicago School" and the economist Milton Friedman have foisted on the world are catastrophic in two senses, argues this vigorous polemic. Because their results are disastrous-depressions, mass poverty, private corporations looting public wealth, by the author's accounting-their means must be cataclysmic, dependent on political upheavals and natural disasters as coercive pretexts for free-market "reforms" the public would normally reject. Journalist Klein (No Logo) chronicles decades of such disasters, including the Chicago School makeovers launched by South American coups; the corrupt sale of Russia's state economy to oligarchs following the collapse of the Soviet Union; the privatization of New Orleans's public schools after Katrina; and the seizure of wrecked fishing villages by resort developers after the Asian tsunami. Klein's economic and political analyses are not always meticulous. Likening free-market "shock therapies" to electroshock torture, she conflates every misdeed of right-wing dictatorships with their economic programs and paints a too simplistic picture of the Iraq conflict as a struggle over American-imposed neo-liberalism. Still, much of her critique hits home, as she demonstrates how free-market ideologues welcome, and provoke, the collapse of other people's economies. The result is a powerful populist indictment of economic orthodoxy. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Klein, an award-winning investigative reporter, contends that war, famine, pestilence, and death--although unfortunate for many--have been transformed to enable unparalleled opportunities for unbridled laissez-faire capitalism and profits for a few. Natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, and floods) shock societies and make them susceptible to enduring, fundamental changes in their institutions. Supplementing natural disasters are human-made disruptions from genocide, hyperinflation, credit crises, and bursting speculative bubbles. Klein cites numerous examples of such societal transformation, beginning with General Augusto Pinochet's 1973 takeover of the Allende government in Chile and including events as recent as the Asian financial crisis, the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the tsunami that ravaged the beaches of Southeast Asia. Klein contends that in those instances, while society was in a state of shock, a concerted effort was made to diminish the role for government and the public sector, and to introduce market reforms that privatized state-owned enterprises and public services and also imposed free market capitalism. The author attributes the philosophy behind reprehensible reactions to these misfortunes to Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, among others. A thought-provoking addition to the ongoing debate on capitalism. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate through faculty collections. E. L. Whalen formerly, Clarke College
Both admirers and detractors agree that the late Nobel Prize laureate Milton Friedman was an extraordinarily influential economist. Canadian Klein assails Friedman's free-market precepts as their exponents have applied them to a series of formerly state-dominated economies since 1975, when Friedman persuaded Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to adopt his program. Klein's entirely negative interpretation of the results of shock therapy only lays the foundation for her book's thesis: that Friedman's prescriptions require a crisis and are ineluctably bound with the application of violence. This perspective informs her criticism--condemnation, in fact--of reform programs in the last three decades that have aimed to separate the state from the economy in Bolivia, Poland, Russia, China, the UK, and elsewhere. The process of market liberalization, Klein maintains, has created a disaster capitalism complex, consisting of corporations that thrive on catastrophe; the author particularly arraigns security and logistics firms in the U.S. and Israel. Assiduously researched, energetically expressed, Klein's report bears an ideological perspective that won't leave readers neutral about her economic interpretations.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2007 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Klein (Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate, 2002, etc.) tracks the forced imposition of economic privatization, rife with multinational corporate parasites, on areas and nations weakened by war, civil strife or natural disasters. The author follows John Perkins (Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, 2004) and others in pointing an alarmed finger at a global "corporatocracy" that combines the worst features of big business and small government. The difference is that Klein's book incorporates an amount of due diligence, logical structure and statistical evidence that others lack. As a result, she is persuasive when she links past and present events, including the war in Iraq and trashing of its economy, to the systematic march of laissez-faire capitalism and the downsizing of the public sector as both a worldview and a political methodology. Klein fully establishes the influence of U.S. economist Milton Friedman, who died in November 2006, as champion of the free-market transformations that occurred initially in South America, where Friedmanite minions trained at the University of Chicago in the 1960s worked their wiles on behalf of some of the 20th century's most repressive regimes. On to China's Tiananmen Square, then to the collapsed Soviet Union, where oligarchs soared and the underclass was left to starve in the 1990s. More recent developments include forcing private development on the tsunami-ravaged beachfronts of South Asia and junking the public-school system in favor of private charter schools in post-Katrina New Orleans. Just as provocative is Klein's analysis of the Bush administration's rampant outsourcing of U.S. government responsibilities, including the entire "homeland security industry," to no-bid corporate contractors and their expense-laden chains of subcontractors. Her account of that methodology's consequences in Iraq, as mass unemployment coincided with the disbanding of a standing army whose soldiers took their guns home, leaves little doubt as to why there is an enduring insurgency. Required reading for anyone trying to pierce the complexities of globalization. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.