"Exceedingly sharp and as bright as a gentleman’s sword."
January 29, 2014 9:28 AM Subscribe
A captain ready to drive himself and all around him to ruin in the hunt for a white whale. It’s a well-known story, and over the years, mad Ahab in Herman Melville’s most famous novel, Moby-Dick, has been used as an exemplar of unhinged American power, most recently of George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. But what’s really frightening isn’t our Ahabs, the hawks who periodically want to bomb some poor country, be it Vietnam or Afghanistan, back to the Stone Age. The respectable types are the true “terror of our age,” as Noam Chomsky called them collectively nearly 50 years ago. The really scary characters are our soberest politicians, scholars, journalists, professionals and managers, men and women (though mostly men) who imagine themselves as morally serious...An essay by Greg Grandin on Melville's novella Benito Cereno (based on the sailing memoirs of Amasa Delano Chapter XVIII) the differences in the political economy and whaling vs. sealing, and the origins of the American empire.
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