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Optimism Over Despair
On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change
Wide-ranging interviews on war, power, and politics with Noam Chomsky, the world's leading critic of US foreign policy.

This volume offers readers a concise and accessible introduction to the ideas of Noam Chomsky, described by the New York Times as “arguably the most important intellectual alive.”

In these recent, wide-ranging interviews, conducted for Truthout by C. J. Polychroniou, Chomsky discusses his views on the “war on terror” and the rise of neoliberalism, the refugee crisis and cracks in the European Union, prospects for a just peace in Israel/Palestine, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the dysfunctional US electoral system, the grave danger posed to humanity by the climate crisis, and the hopes, prospects, and challenges of building a movement for radical change.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT. His work is widely credited with having revolutionized the field of modern linguistics. He is the author of numerous best-selling political works, which have been translated into scores of languages worldwide.

C. J. Polychroniou is a regular contributor to Truthout as well as a member of Truthout's Public Intellectual Project. He has published several books and his articles have appeared in a variety of journals, magazines, newspapers, and popular news websites.

Other books by Noam Chomsky and C.J. Polychroniou

  • Turning the Tide

    US Central American policies project broader US economic, military, and social aims, impacting millions in Central America.
  • Powers and Prospects

    Chomsky lifts the veil of distortions that conceals the workings of history and social policy.
  • Rogue States

    Chomsky argues that the real 'rogue' states are the United States and its allies.
  • Culture of Terrorism

    This scathing critique of US political culture is a brilliant analysis of the Iran-Contra scandal.
  • On Power and Ideology

    This succinct series of lectures lays out the parameters of Noam Chomsky's foreign policy analysis.
  • Propaganda and the Public Mind

    Chomsky offers hope for the future and shows how ordinary citizens, working together, have the power to make change.
  • Rethinking Camelot

    Explores JFK’s role in US invasion of Vietnam and a reflects on the political culture that encouraged the Cold War.
  • Year 501

    Chomsky definitively shows how the United States developed into the world's most implacable and powerful empire.
  • On Palestine

    An informative and urgent discussion on the way forward for the justice in Palestine movement.
  • Pirates and Emperors, Old and New

    A brilliant account of the workings of state terrorism by the world’s foremost critic of U.S. Imperialism.
  • Fateful Triangle

    A comprehensive indictment of what Noam Chomsky calls the "disgraceful and extremely dangerous" policy the US has enacted towards Israel.
  • After the Cataclysm

    Dissects the aftermath of the war in Southeast Asia, the refugee problem, the Vietnam/Cambodia conflict and
    the Pol Pot regime.
  • The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism

    Analyzes U.S. policy in Latin America, Asia, and Africa media and the role of the media in misreporting these policies.
  • Masters of Mankind

    A brilliant indictment of US imperial power.
  • Gaza in Crisis

    As Israel continues its barbaric assault on Gaza, Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe put the recent campaign against Gaza.
  • Hopes and Prospects

    Noam Chomsky examines political prospects in the Americas, North and South, in a new era.
  • Intervenciones

    Short, forceful commentaries on US politics from Latin America to the Middle East.