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How the World Works

How the World Works book cover

David Barsamian interviews Noam Chomsky
Edited by Arthur Naiman
Soft Skull Press, 2011; 336 pages.

According to The New York Times, Noam Chomsky is "arguably the most important intellectual alive." But he isn't easy to read . . . or at least he wasn't until these books came along. Made up of intensively edited speeches and interviews, they offer something not found anywhere else: pure Chomsky, with every dazzling idea and penetrating insight intact, delivered in clear, accessible, reader-friendly prose. 

Published as four short books in the famous Real Story series—What Uncle Sam Really Wants; The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many; Secrets, Lies and Democracy; and The Common Good—they've collectively sold almost 600,000 copies.

And they continue to sell year after year after year because Chomsky's ideas become, if anything, more relevant as time goes by. For example, twenty years ago he pointed out that "in 1970, about 90% of international capital was used for trade and long-term investment—more or less productive things—and 10% for speculation. By 1990, those figures had reversed." As we know, speculation continued to increase exponentially. We're paying the price now for not heeding him them.


David Barsamian

One of America's most tireless and wide-ranging investigative journalists, David Barsamian has altered the independent media landscape, both with his weekly radio show Alternative Radio—now in its 29th year—and his books with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali, Richard Wolff, Arundhati Roy and Edward Said. His latest book of interviews with Noam Chomsky is Power Systems. His best-selling books with Chomsky have been translated into many languages. He lectures on world affairs, imperialism, capitalism, propaganda, the media, the economic crisis and global rebellions. Click for a list of recent speaking topics.

He is a winner of the Media Education Award, the ACLU's Upton Sinclair Award for independent journalism, and the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. The Institute for Alternative Journalism named him one of its Top Ten Media Heroes. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. He has collaborated with the world-renowned Kronos Quartet  in events in New York, London, Vienna and elsewhere.

The Boulder Weekly published this feature about him. As Arundhati Roy wrote for The Guardian, Barsamian was deported from India due to his work on Kashmir and other revolts. He is still barred from traveling to "the world's largest democracy."

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. The legendary MIT professor practically invented modern linguistics. In addition to his pioneering work in that field he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” He is the author of scores of books, including Hopes & Prospects, Masters of Mankind, How the World Works, and Power Systems with David Barsamian.

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