Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Shock Doctrine

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The Shock Doctrine

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

by Naomi Klein

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 576 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2008, 576 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

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  • Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976, greatly raising his international profile and paving the way for the adoption of his policies. The Nobel website publishes Friedman's autobiography and prize lecture. Friedman charmingly admits the incongruity of his receiving a prize established by the Central Bank of Sweden: "[M]y monetary studies have led me to the conclusion that central banks could profitably be replaced by computers geared to provide a steady rate of growth in the quantity of money. Fortunately for me personally, and for a select group of fellow economists, that conclusion has had no practical impact…else there would have been no Central Bank of Sweden to have established the award I am honored to receive."

    For an excellent summation of Friedman's career, read Paul Krugman's essay in the New York Review of Books, where he concludes that though "Friedman was wrong on some issues, and sometimes seemed less than honest with his readers, I regard him as a great economist and a great man."

  • In 2007, shortly after The Shock Doctrine was published in hardcover, Naomi Klein wrote an essay in The Guardian (considered the most left wing of the UK's mainstream newspapers) about the reception the book received in the conservative business press. She wryly notes the irony that publications like the Financial Times dismiss her work as an ideological rant when, in fact, she draws much of her research from the very pages of the Financial Times itself. For a wealth of resources about The Shock Doctrine, including some of the research behind her thesis and a short film about the book by Alfonso Cuarón, see Klein's own website.

Useful to know: Despite sharing the same last name and outlook on globalization, Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, is not related to Milton Friedman.

This article was originally published in November 2007, and has been updated for the June 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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