Norman writes about coming under FBI surveillance in the mid 1960's when he was 14 and his trips to Baghdad and Tehran with Sean Penn, narrator of the documentary. He provides us with interesting accounts of face offs with Judith Miller and other pro-war journalists before the start of the Iraq war. Along the way, we learn about his encounters with several Presidents Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, and Bush.
Martin Luther King had a profound effect on Norman. He says that when Martin Luther King Jr. publicly referred to “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government,” he had no way of knowing that his description would ring so true 40 years later. As the autumn of 2007 begins, the reality of Uncle Sam as an unhinged mega-killer haunts a large minority of Americans. Many who can remember the horrific era of the Vietnam War are nearly incredulous that we could now be living in a time of similarly deranged official policy.
Despite all the differences, the deep parallels between the two war efforts (Viet Nam and Iraq) inform us that the basic madness of entrenched power in our midst is not about miscalculations or bad management or quagmires. The continuity tells us much more than we would probably like to know about the obstacles to decency that confront us every day.
Towards the end of the book, Solomon quotes James Baldwin: "They have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime." Solomon quotes these lines approvingly, but his goal is not just to make us aware of what the U.S. military state is doing, but to stop it. To sum up, this is an excellent book, a blend of personal narrative with political history. I recommend this book to anyone interested in reading a very personal account of the antiwar movement.