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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Max Brooks

Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?: Four Interventions in the (mis)use of a Notion (Wo es War)

Did Someone Say Totalitarianism?: 5 Interventions in the (Mis)Use of a Notion - Slavoj Žižek The more I read of Žižek, the more ambivalent I am towards his work. Although I love his ideas (and believe that Lacanian ontology is probably the only acceptable basis for understanding how we actually live our lives), the biggest problem with his books is that they are, in essence, all the same. They're written in a stream-of-consciousness type of style that tackles themes in a seemingly idiosyncratic manner. They always include a lot of Lacan, some Kant, and some Hegel; and inevitable bashing of Derrida, Habermas, and perhaps some other post-modernists.

What's most disappointing about Did somebody say totalitarianism? is that it masquerades as a different book - as a rigorous critique of five specific misuses of the notion of 'totalitarianism' in contemporary liberal democratic discourse. But what it ends up being is just another one of Žižek's books, following the standard model: take a starting point, and then just rant off in the tracks of your favorite theoretical arguments. In other words, it's yet another 'stream-of-consciousness' book that just happens to be designated as being about totalitarianism... but isn't necessarily (it's as much about totalitarianism as about Kantian ethics, or Hollywood movies, or whatever).

Sticking up a preface and dedication to a Romanian secret police agent and a picture of Stalin reading Pravda on the cover does not make this book any more about its ostensible topic than any other of Žižek's books. If you haven't read Žižek before, this is as good a starting point as any. If you have read 2 or more of his books, it will probably feel superfluous - satisfying if you agree with him, but infuriating if you don't.