First published at Palestine Chronicle, 2016-05-02.
Age of Fools. William A. Cook. Dandelion Books, LLC. Mesa, Arizona. 2015.
In a world of fools, Age of Fools by William Cook is passionate and accusatory book that reviews the Bush/Sharon era of Israeli/Palestinian affairs. Cook’s style is different than the usual prosaic works of history, and while the ‘facts’ are clearly delineated, there is also a much more forthright expression of disgust and anger towards the actions of the U.S. and Israel in controlling the media, the message, and the very real violence against the Palestinians. Throughout the work are references to works of fiction that have passed the test of time.
I hesitated at first to read this work as I am not generally a reader of fiction, yet as described by Cook, the work “draws upon literary tradition” referencing “all the masterworks that illuminate human potential and human failure” creating “a meaningful narrative of human development over time.” From that introductory perspective, Age of Fools develops into a factual recounting of the Bush/Sharon era without losing the creativity, angst, and distraught sense of wonder of writers such as Dante, Cervantes, and Swift up to the more contemporary names of Orwell and Conrad to name a few.
Along with historical references to the human condition, Cook introduces pieces of his own poetic writings - generally as introductions to new chapters - that probe and question the reality of the human condition. Within the chapters, the prosaic writing retains at times elements of the poetic, using sequences of - mostly - common sense questions as to the ignorance wilful or otherwise towards events in the Middle East.
Beyond this, the work touches on a series of important topics that generally are not evident in western mainstream media. First off, Gideon Levy is cited in Ha’aretz,
The underlying basis of terrorism lies in the territories. Nowhere else….The checkpoints, the humiliations, the suppression and the mass imprisonment are the true infrastructure of terrorism.
Unusual for many critics of the empire, Cook directly relates Neocon interest in the region to the almighty US$. I would disagree with his assessment that the main concern is the euro, as both are weak, built upon massive debt, but his conclusion about the dollar falling (consider the current use of the petrodollar, the manipulation of the price of oil et al) could be all too true, as the loss of confidence in the dollar,
...could be disastrous for America, resulting in the worst legacy of all: an economic depression of incalculable consequences.
Cook includes a discussion of genocide in his writing, recognizing that it is not simply the mass murder of a people, but as per the genocide Convention of the UN, includes bodily and mental harm, collective actions, actions against children, cultural destruction among other actions. Also included is the more recent emphasis on apartheid as a distinguishing feature of Israeli actions against the Palestinians, inclusive of the open air prison of Gaza. The boycott, sanction and divestment (BDS) movement, initiated in 2005, did not have a significant impact on these writings, but with the discussion of apartheid, the Afrikaner word simply meaning apart, it becomes an obvious follow on.
Age of Fools surprised me for its intensity and directness combined with a strong philosophical element. It is a challenging read both for the intensity of the emotion involved and for the clarity of its factual references of the inhumane acts perpetrated against the people of Palestine.