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by Chris Hedges

 
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Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, has written twelve books, including the New York Times best seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. Some of his other books include “Death of the Liberal Class”...

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Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

This booklist includes Ulysses, Heart of Darkness, Moby Dick and other classics.

Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

The Oxford Shakespeare

By William Shakespeare

The Oxford Shakespeare is the ultimate anthology of the Bard’s work: the most authoritative edition of the plays and poems ever published.

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

Heart of Darkness

By Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness, a novella written by Joseph Conrad, tells the story of Charles Marlow, an Englishman who took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa.

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

Kolyma Tales

By Varlam Shalamov; John Glad (Translator)

It is estimated that some 3 million people died in the Soviet forced-labor camps of Kolyma, in the northeastern area of Siberia. Shalamov himself spent 17 years there, and in these stories he vividly captures the lives of ordinary people caught up in terrible circumstances, their hopes and plans extending no further than a few hours.

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Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

Moby-Dick

By Herman Melville

No American masterpiece casts quite as awesome a shadow as Melville’s monumental Moby Dick.  Mad Captain Ahab’s quest for the White Whale is a timeless epic—a stirring tragedy of vengeance and obsession, a searing parable about humanity lost in a universe of moral ambiguity.  It is the greatest sea story ever told.  Far ahead of its own time, Moby Dick was largely misunderstood and unappreciated by Melville’s contemporaries.  Today, however, it is indisputably a classic.  As D.H. Lawrence wrote, Moby Dick “commands a stillness in the soul, an awe . . . [It is] one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world.”

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

The Brothers Karamazov

By Fyodor M. Dostoevsky; Constance Garnett (Translator)

The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, and is generally considered the culmination of his life’s work. Dostoevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger and completed in November 1880. Dostoevsky intended it to be the first part in an epic story titled The Life of a Great Sinner, but he died less than four months after its publication. The book portrays a patricide in which each of the murdered man’s sons share a varying degree of complicity. On a deeper level, it is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, reason, free will and modern Russia.

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

Life and Fate

By Vasily Grossman; Robert Chandler (Introduction by)


A book judged so dangerous in the Soviet Union that not only the manuscript but the ribbons on which it had been typed were confiscated by the state, Life and Fate is an epic tale of World War II and a profound reckoning with the dark forces that dominated the twentieth century. Interweaving a transfixing account of the battle of Stalingrad with the story of a single middle-class family, the Shaposhnikovs, scattered by fortune from Germany to Siberia, Vasily Grossman fashions an immense, intricately detailed tapestry depicting a time of almost unimaginable horror and even stranger hope. Life and Fate juxtaposes bedrooms and snipers’ nests, scientific laboratories and the Gulag, taking us deep into the hearts and minds of characters ranging from a boy on his way to the gas chambers to Hitler and Stalin themselves.

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Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

The Balkan Trilogy

By Olivia Manning; Rachel Cusk (Introduction by)


The Balkan Trilogy is the story of a marriage and of a war, a vast, teeming, and complex masterpiece in which Olivia Manning brings the uncertainty and adventure of civilian existence under political and military siege to vibrant life. Manning’s focus is not the battlefield but the café and kitchen, the bedroom and street, the fabric of the everyday world that has been irrevocably changed by war, yet remains unchanged.

At the heart of the trilogy are newlyweds Guy and Harriet Pringle, who arrive in Bucharest—the so-called Paris of the East—in the fall of 1939, just weeks after the German invasion of Poland. Guy, an Englishman teaching at the university, is as wantonly gregarious as his wife is introverted, and Harriet is shocked to discover that she must share her adored husband with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Other surprises follow: Romania joins the Axis, and before long German soldiers overrun the capital. The Pringles flee south to Greece, part of a group of refugees made up of White Russians, journalists, con artists, and dignitaries. In Athens, however, the couple will face a new...

Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

The Collected Essays, Journalism And Letters Of George Orwell

By George Orwell


A record of a great writer’s nonfiction work and an evolving picture of the last years of his life, during the time when he published Animal Farm and 1984. “A magnificent tribute to the probity, consistency and insight of Orwell’s topical writings….A remarkable self-portrait” (Alfred Kazin, Book World). Edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus; Index.

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Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

Open Society and Its Enemies

By Karl Popper


Popper was born in 1902 to a Viennese family of Jewish origin. He taught in Austria until 1937, when he emigrated to New Zealand in anticipation of the Nazi annexation of Austria the following year, and he settled in England in 1949. Before the annexation, Popper had written mainly about the philosophy of science, but from 1938 until the end of the Second World War he focused his energies on political philosophy, seeking to diagnose the intellectual origins of German and Soviet totalitarianism. The “Open Society and Its Enemies” was the result.

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Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

The Origins of Totalitarianism

By Hannah Arendt


The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

Moral Man and Immoral Society

By Reinhold Niebuhr


Moral Man and Immoral Society is Reinhold Niebuhr’s important early study in ethics and politics. Forthright and realistic, it discusses the inevitability of social conflict, the brutal behavior of human collectives of every sort, the inability of rationalists and social scientists to even imagine the realities of collective power, and, ultimately, how individual morality can overcome social immorality.

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

The Nature and Destiny of Man

By Reinhold Niebuhr; Robin W. Lovin (Introduction by)

“The Nature and Destiny of Man” issues a vigorous challenge to Western civilization to understand its roots in the faith of the Bible, particularly the Hebraic tradition. The growth, corruption, and purification of the important Western emphases on individuality are insightfully chronicled here. This book is arguably Reinhold Niebuhr’s most important work. It offers a sustained articulation of Niebuhr’s theological ethics and is considered a landmark in twentieth-century thought.

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism

By Sheldon S. Wolin


Democracy is struggling in America—by now this statement is almost clich. But what if the country is no longer a democracy at all? In “Democracy Incorporated,” Sheldon Wolin considers the unthinkable: has America unwittingly morphed into a new and strange kind of political hybrid, one where economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled? Can the nation check its descent into what the author terms “inverted totalitarianism”?
Wolin portrays a country where citizens are politically uninterested and submissive—and where elites are eager to keep them that way. At best the nation has become a “managed democracy” where the public is shepherded, not sovereign. At worst it is a place where corporate power no longer answers to state controls. Wolin makes clear that today’s America is in no way morally or politically comparable to totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, yet he warns that unchecked economic power risks verging on total power and has its own unnerving pathologies. Wolin examines the myths and mythmaking that justify today’s politics, the quest for an...

Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

The Destruction of the European Jews

By Raul Hilberg


A three-volume study of the Holocaust. First published in 1961, Raul Hilberg’s comprehensive account of how Germany annihilated the Jewish community of Europe spurred discussion, galvanized further research, and shaped the entire field of Holocaust studies. This revised and expanded edition of Hilberg’s classic work extends the scope of his study and includes 80,000 words of new material, particularly from archives in Eastern Europe, added over a lifetime of research. It is the definitive work of a scholar who has devoted more than 50 years to exploring and analyzing the realities of the Holocaust. Spanning the 12-year period of anti-Jewish actions from 1933 to 1945, Hilberg’s study encompasses Germany and all the territories under German rule or influence. Its principal focus is on the large number of perpetrators - civil servants, military personnel, Nazi party functionaries, SS men, and representatives of private enterprises - in the machinery of death.

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

Samuel Johnson: A Biography

By W. Jackson Bate


Bate’s magisterial biography provides a picture of Johnson as a genius and as a human being, a man whose brilliance was born out of the torment of his mind.

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

The Fire Next Time

By James Baldwin

At once a powerful evocation of his childhood in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, The Fire Next Time, which galvanized the nation in the early days of the Civil Rights movement, stands as one of the essential works of our literature.

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Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

In Search of Lost Time

By Marcel Proust

For this authoritative English-language edition, D. J. Enright has revised the late Terence Kilmartin’s acclaimed reworking of C. K. Scott Moncrieff’s translation to take into account the new definitive French editions of À la recherche du temps perdu (the final volume of these new editions was published by the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade in 1989).

...
Chris Hedges’ Favorite Books

Ulysses

By James Joyce

Loosely based on the Odyssey, this landmark of modern literature follows ordinary Dubliners through an entire day in 1904. Captivating experimental techniques range from interior monologues to exuberant wordplay and earthy humor.

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