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Sonic boom

Dan Drezner read Gregg Easterbrook's new book “Sonic Boom,” and seems to wish he'd thought better of it:

Easterbrook tends to contradict himself or make sweeping declarations that don’t hold up to scrutiny. At one point, he writes that the Internet is largely responsible for “much faster, more compelling and more accurate news.” Fine, except that just a paragraph earlier he characterizes the Internet as “a source of befuddlement rather than enlightenment.” Easterbrook makes both statements with equal conviction, leaving the reader himself a bit befuddled. He similarly goes back and forth on the utility of alternative energy subsidies and neoclassical economic theory.

Even more puzzling are some of his blanket assertions. For example, he flatly states that “no nation has backslid toward tyranny” since the end of the cold war. Now, Stalinism might not be making a comeback, but it’s hard to characterize recent developments in Venezuela, China or Russia as the flowering of liberty.


By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  Books  
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The phrase "sonic boom" will forever immediately draw to my mind Guile from Street Fighter 2. Also, "Hadoken", but that's not as likely to be used in conversation. Except by my friends.

Posted by: MosBen | January 15, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"but it’s hard to characterize recent developments in Venezuela, China or Russia as the flowering of liberty."

And it's hard to characterize the US as playing a positive role in "flowering of liberty" through supporting democracy in Venezuela because the bushies openly supported a coup attempt of Chavez, the legally elected head of state there. Whatever you think of him, his paranoia is well justified. The bellicose rhetoric coming out of the bush administration left little doubt that "the flowering of liberty" takes a back seat to the interests of US backed corporations and local oligarchs in other democracies. The Obama administration has lowered the rhetorical heat on Chavez, but is basically continuing the same policies toward the Chavez government, which is sad.

Unfortunately, the Honduran situation with the Obama administration not taking a strong stand with Zelaya and against the golpistas who executed a coup there, shows that we must hold the current administration accountable for supporting the new government that came out of the coup instead of being a strong voice for the rule of law and democratic government.

Posted by: srw3 | January 15, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Do people still pay attention to Gregg Easterbrook? And if so, why? Hasn't he yet demonstrated a considerable ability to be stupid to all fields?

Just to pick one thing, there's Easterbrook's Panglossian 1995 book on the environment, "A Moment on the Earth." He basically argued that the environmental movement had succeeded, and remaining environmental alarmism was largely unwarranted.

Even disregarding global warming (and Easterbrook argued against man-made global warming long past any reasonable point), this was nonsense, as David Quammen's 1996 book, "The Song of the Dodo," demonstrated: habitat destruction had brought us not only into an age of extinctions, but also more or less to the end of evolution as well.

And that's just one field where Easterbrook has brought the stupid.

Posted by: rt42 | January 15, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

A good rule of thumb would be to not give much credibility to current affairs books that share their name with a KISS album.

Posted by: JEinATL | January 15, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

He does have a fun football column at espn.

Posted by: wiredog | January 15, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

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