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  • Why Are We at War?
  • Written by Norman Mailer
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  • Why Are We at War?
  • Written by Norman Mailer
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Why Are We at War?

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Written by Norman MailerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Norman Mailer



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On Sale: September 17, 2013
Pages: 128 | ISBN: 978-0-8129-8602-0
Published by : Random House Random House Group

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Read by Norman Mailer
On Sale: April 08, 2003
ISBN: 978-0-7393-0500-3
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Beginning with his debut masterpiece, The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer has repeatedly told the truth about war. Why Are We at War? returns Mailer to the gravity of the battlefield and the grand hubris of the politicians who send soldiers there to die. First published in the early days of the Iraq War, Why Are We at War? is an explosive argument about the American quest for empire that still carries weight today. Scrutinizing the Bush administration’s words and actions, Mailer unleashes his trademark moral rigor: “Because democracy is noble, it is always endangered. . . . To assume blithely that we can export democracy into any country we choose can serve paradoxically to encourage more fascism at home and abroad.”
 
Praise for Why Are We at War?
 
“We’re overloaded with information these days, some of it possibly true. Mailer offers a provocative—and persuasive—cultural and intellectual frame.”Newsweek
 
“[Mailer] still has the stamina to churn out hard-hitting criticism.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Penetrating . . . There’s plenty of irreverent wit and fresh thinking on display.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Eloquent . . . thoughtful . . . Why Are We at War? pulls no punches.”Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 
Praise for Norman Mailer
 
“[Norman Mailer] loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation.”The New York Times
 
“A writer of the greatest and most reckless talent.”The New Yorker
 
“Mailer is indispensable, an American treasure.”The Washington Post
 
“A devastatingly alive and original creative mind.”Life
 
“Mailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance.”The New York Review of Books
 
“The largest mind and imagination [in modern] American literature . . . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Mailer is a master of his craft. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream.”The Cincinnati Post

Excerpt

1

dotson rader: I was at home in my apartment on East Eighty-fifth Street in Manhattan when the first of the Twin Towers was hit by one of the planes. But at the time I didn’t know it had happened. Later that morning I tried to make a phone call, and my phone was dead. So I got dressed and went outside. I live four blocks from Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor. None of the pay phones on the street worked. People were wandering oddly about, sort of dazed, as if kind of lost. It was very strange. I started walking downtown—it was a bright, almost hot day in New York. I was supposed to have lunch with a friend on Fifty-seventh Street, and I was walking down Third Avenue to meet him at the restaurant. When I reached Sixty-fourth Street, I noticed this huge, bubbling cloud in the sky above Manhattan south of me. The rest of the sky was blue and clear. I didn’t know what it was. And then, looking down Third Avenue, six or seven blocks away, as far as I could see, I suddenly noticed a vast throng of people, a flood of humanity, like a slow wave rolling north up the avenue. Many of them were men in white shirts. They were the office workers from Wall Street, fleeing the disaster. This quiet mass of people, tens of thousands, was walking up the island like a funeral procession and turning at Fifty-seventh Street and then moving as one toward the 59th Street Bridge to cross over out of the island. And I thought, “Jesus! Is this Christ’s Second Coming?” Because they were in white, covered in dust, and they looked stunned, and they were speaking in whispers, like kids in church. I thought it was the Rapture and Jesus was calling his saints home, and that I was being left behind. That was my initial feeling.

norman mailer: Wouldn’t that be it? Jesus had come and everybody has gone to meet him by crossing the bridge from Manhattan to Queens. That does capture my pessimism concerning cosmic matters. [laughter]

dotson rader: Okay. Where were you on September 11? How did you learn about the terrorist attacks, and what was your initial reaction?

norman mailer: I was in my house up here in Provincetown. I remember a phone call telling me to turn on the TV. While I was watching I called my youngest daughter, Maggie. I have an apartment in Brooklyn Heights, and she was staying there with a friend. You can see lower Manhattan and the Twin Towers from that apartment. Our windows look across the East River. So Maggie had witnessed the first attack and was terribly affected by it. Then, while we were on the phone, the second plane hit the other building. I’m still watching on TV. In Brooklyn, Maggie and her friend are both seeing it through the window as well as viewing it on TV. That was a considerable shock. Why? Because the one thing TV always promises us is that, deep down, what we see on television is not real. It’s why there’s always that subtle numbness to TV. The most astonishing events, even terrifying events, nonetheless have a touch of nonexistence when seen on the tube. They don’t terrify us. We see something that’s hideous, but we’re not shocked proportionally. It’s why we can watch anything on TV.

Now, there are exceptions. The shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby was one; the second plane striking the second Tower; the collapse of the Towers. TV at that moment was no longer a coat of insulation between us and the horrific. When broken, the impact is enormous.

dotson rader: What struck me, what I’ll never forget, is the silence. Everyone was just silent. Or if they spoke, they whispered. It was like everyone was at a funeral. And this went on for hours and hours. Occasionally, the silence was broken by an ambulance or police siren. And what I’d never seen in New York before—military jets started flying over the island, because they started closing Manhattan down. The military started showing up in the streets. I thought, What in God’s name is happening?
Norman Mailer

About Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer - Why Are We at War?

Photo © Christina Pabst

Born in 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Norman Mailer was one of the most influential writers of the second half of the twentieth century and a leading public intellectual for nearly sixty years. He is the author of more than thirty books. The Castle in the Forest, his last novel, was his eleventh New York Times bestseller. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, has never gone out of print. His 1968 nonfiction narrative, The Armies of the Night, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He won a second Pulitzer for The Executioner’s Song and is the only person to date to have won Pulitzers in both fiction and nonfiction. Five of his books were nominated for National Book Awards, and he won a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in 2005. Norman Mailer died in 2007 in New York City.
Praise

Praise

Praise for Why Are We at War?
 
“We’re overloaded with information these days, some of it possibly true. Mailer offers a provocative—and persuasive—cultural and intellectual frame.”Newsweek
 
“[Mailer] still has the stamina to churn out hard-hitting criticism.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Penetrating . . . There’s plenty of irreverent wit and fresh thinking on display.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Eloquent . . . thoughtful . . . Why Are We at War? pulls no punches.”Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 
Praise for Norman Mailer
 
“[Norman Mailer] loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation.”The New York Times
 
“A writer of the greatest and most reckless talent.”The New Yorker
 
“Mailer is indispensable, an American treasure.”The Washington Post
 
“A devastatingly alive and original creative mind.”Life
 
“Mailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance.”The New York Review of Books
 
“The largest mind and imagination [in modern] American literature . . . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Mailer is a master of his craft. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream.”The Cincinnati Post

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