Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges (Author), Joe Sacco (Illustrator)

Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 10:20 am
Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt
by Chris Hedges (Author), Joe Sacco (Illustrator)

Book Description
Publication Date: June 12, 2012

Two years ago, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America that have been offered up for exploitation in the name of profit, progress, and technological advancement. They wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like in places where the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is the searing account of their travels.

The book starts in the western plains, where Native Americans were sacrificed in the giddy race for land and empire. It moves to the old manufacturing centers and coal fields that fueled the industrial revolution, but now lie depleted and in decay. It follows the steady downward spiral of American labor into the nation's produce fields and ends in Zuccotti Park where a new generation revolts against a corporate state that has handed to the young an economic, political, cultural and environmental catastrophe.

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2012: From the dusty plains of North Dakota to the coal-veined hills of West Virginia to the desolate and ravaged streets of Camden N.J., Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist/journalist Joe Sacco introduce us to the nation's "sacrifice zones"--those regions where, in the authors' view, corporate greed has run wild, and the locals have suffered. A unique mashup of investigative journalism, man-on-the-street reportage, graphic novel, and anti-corporate manifesto, the result is a riveting and often chilling account of America's forgotten zones.

The balance between Hedges' narrative nonfiction storytelling and Sacco's intimate and very human sketches is surprisingly effective. And the stark depictions (both written and visual) of abandoned coal mines and empty downtowns and crumbling houses are heartbreaking, as are the stories of people struggling to survive. This is a special and important book. --Neal Thompson


Bill Moyers

“The journalist Chris Hedges is a unique force today, because of his fierce independence and candor. He’s been writing about how politics is a charade aimed at making voters think the personal narrative of the candidate is the story although it never affects the operation of the corporate state. No matter which candidate wins, the money power in Washington reigns. That nails it, don’t you think?”

Boston Globe

“Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (Nation) is as moving a portrait of poverty and as compelling a call to action as Michael Harrington's ‘The Other America,’ published in 1962.”

Philadelphia Weekly

“The tales therein—both the intimate personal ones and the big sociopolitical ones—are as unsettling as they are impossible to put down.”

Metro (UK)

“Eloquently written and embellished by spare, desolate drawings from Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is accessible and deeply uncomfortable.”

Financial Times

“[A] growling indictment of corporate America.”

"Hedges carries the mantle of Upton Sinclair, Howard Zinn, George Orwell, and all the agitators in fighting for the soul of nations when so many have forgotten what that means. His eloquence is in the eloquence of the lives he presents, and Sacco lovingly animates them. It's rare that a book carries so much courage and conviction, forcing reflection and an urge to immediately rectify the problems."

Associated Press

“…provides close accounts of some of the country's most devastated communities, "sacrifice zones." It ends with a detailed history of the Occupy protests and a declaration that "the mighty can fall.”

Portland Monthly magazine

"Days of Destruction is a riveting indictment of America’s failures.”

Seattle Times

“The book is a primer for every American who is overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the stock market, who wonders where America's muscle went, and how much heavy lifting our kids will face.”

More About the Author Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a cultural critic and author who was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. He reported from Latin American, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the bestsellers American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and writes an online column for the web site Truthdig. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto.

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Reply Mon 23 Jul, 2012 10:32 am
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

July 9, 2012

Chris Hedges has a great capacity for evoking the misery and hopelessness that is increasingly common in this country. This is often a depressing book--but it is strongly based in reality. Periodically in the book there are--provided by Joe Sacco--illustrations and comic book depictions of the lives of the individuals profiled in the book.

In the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota, Hedges describes one of the poorest and most socially dysfunctional areas in the United States. Why are Pine Ridge residents in this predicament? Hedges finds the answer in the subduing of Indian resistance in the late 19th century. The basis for traditional Indian culture was wiped out, including the buffalo. The US government successfully used racist and murderous military violence to subdue native resistance. That violence included rape; Hedges quotes George Custer's chief of scouts as telling the historian Walter Camp that captured squaws in the 1868 raid on Washita were used as sex slaves. Custer selected one for himself. Custer was a big part of the US military operations designed to steal the Black Hills region from the Lakota Sioux. The Black Hills had been granted to the Indians by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie but gold, coal and other minerals were soon discovered in the region. A great many avaricious white people flooded into the region. The US military soon went into operation to steal Black Hills for white economic interests. The US government suppressed Indian language and culture. They instituted elected reservation governments that were easily controlled by the US government. An example of these puppet governments is pointed to by Hedges: the Pine Ridge tribal council in the 70's under the thuggish, corrupt leadership of Dick Wilson, a man very friendly towards white economic interests wishing to exploit Indian land. Wilson was a violent enemy of the American Indian Movement.

Hedges profiles several Pine Ridge residents including people who have set themselves toward living constructive lives after years of destructive activities like alcoholism and gangs. According to Hedges, such people have gotten on the right path by participating in old Lakota rituals like sun dances and sweat lodges. Hedges writes that this rediscovering of roots has had a strong influence in helping Indians fight against the tendencies towards destructive lifestyles that Pine Ridge's poverty and hopelessness encourages.

The next chapter is about Camden New Jersey. Camden is almost exclusively inhabited by persons of color, mostly African Americans. The city's residents face bleak job prospects, the housing and infrastructure have long crumbled and crime, drugs and prostitution afflict the city. One of the people examined in this chapter--citing reports from the Philadelphia Inquirer and other newspapers-- is George Norcross III, the insurance magnate and a dominant force in state politics. The Camden County Democratic Party appears to be the most docile instrument utilized by Norcross's political machine. Camden itself has been under the control of an unelected state government board since it went bankrupt a decade ago. Norcross seems to exercise very substantial influence with this board. He is in the habit of threatening to destroy local and state government officials and politicians who cross him; he has been caught on tape doing so using very profane language. If they cross him, these politicians run the risk of compelling Norcross to use his substantial influence to try to defeat them at election time. While Camden's resident's deal with contaminated drinking water, crumbling infrastructure and a downsized police force, the politicians he supports make sure that tax dollars flow to him and his business allies through government contracts and millions of dollars in subsidies for urban renewal projects. Hedges writes that while Norcross is a Democrat, he is also an ally of New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie.

The next chapter is about southern West Virginia. This region has been economically ravaged, experienced massive population flight and has many towns that are almost ghost communities. In this miserable environment, some residents have become drug addicts. Strip mining and mountain top removal mining seem to be the only thriving industries in the area but these create dreadful externalities. These operations spread toxic soot all over surrounding communities. Hedges examines the resistance of the town of Sylvester to the pollution sprayed upon it by a subsidiary of Massey Energy. This pollution severely contaminates the water supply, soil and air; the area is prone to high rates of cancer, respiratory ailments and other medical problems. Elderly people are predominant among Hedges's interviewees in this chapter. For example there are the elderly women active in the fight in Sylvester and the retired man refusing to bow to pressure to leave his ancestral property surrounded by mining operations. This retired man and another anti-mining activist, a woman in her early 40's, report being subjected to various acts of intimidation including drive by shootings, repeated vandalism to their property and killings of their pet dogs.

Next is Imoakalee Florida, a center of immigrant agricultural labor, mostly Latino. The immigrants are housed in horrible conditions; subjected to extremely low pay; back-breaking labor; and serious respiratory problems, acute pesticide poisoning and other aliments caused by exposure to pesticides like Methyl Bromide. It is not uncommon for these workers to be held in literal slavery, have their paychecks stolen and subjected to physical abuse. The legal system in Florida appears willing to prosecute cases of slavery but the immigrants are very afraid to come forward for obvious reasons. Hedges interviews activists from the Coalition of Imoakalee workers, a very impressive organization--he describes their struggle to secure a minimum level of decent conditions.

Hedges ends his book with a stop at Occupy New York's home base. He argues that the Occupy movement and historical figures--including Crazy Horse and Eastern European communist era dissidents--are models for resistance to the corporate tyranny that afflicts us. Hedges paints a vivid picture of the landscapes he and Sacco visit and the people they talk to. Sacco's illustrations are engaging.
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