The Decline Of Empire And Rise Of Trumps
In his new book, “America: The Farewell Tour,” based on his travels around the United States, Chris Hedges describes the decline of society and how that brought President Trump into power. Trump is a symptom of failing systems, and there will be more Trumps until things change. We speak with Hedges in depth about the basis for what is happening, what he has learned while covering other countries that went through similar transitions and what we must do if we are to weather the current crises.
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Chris Hedges is a Truthdig columnist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a New York Times best-selling author, a professor in the college degree program offered to New Jersey state prisoners by Rutgers University, and an ordained Presbyterian minister. He has written 12 books, including the New York Times best-seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. His other books include “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” (2015) “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His latest book is “America: The Farewell Tour” (2018). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and has sold over 400,000 copies. He writes a weekly column for the website Truthdig and hosts a show, “On Contact,” on RT America.
Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries during his work for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
Hedges was part of a New York Times team of reporters awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002.
Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and studied classics, including ancient Greek and Latin, at Harvard University.
Hedges has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto. He currently teaches a class through Princeton University at a state prison in New Jersey in which half of the students are Princeton undergraduates and half are prisoners.
Hedges began his career reporting on the Falklands War from Argentina for National Public Radio. He went on to cover the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua for five years, first for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio and later The Dallas Morning News. After six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he was based in Paris as part of the team covering al-Qaida and global terrorism. He left the Times after receiving a formal reprimand from the newspaper for publicly denouncing the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.
In 2012, Hedges successfully sued President Barack Obama over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which overturned the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act along with its prohibitions against the military acting as a domestic police force. (Section 1021 gives the military the authority to indefinitely detain and deny due process to U.S. citizens who are branded as terrorists by the state.) The decision was overturned on appeal by the Obama administration. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the ruling, known as Hedges v. Obama, in 2014.
Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He spent a year studying classics at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. In 2014 he was ordained as a minister for social witness in a ceremony at the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, N.J. The theologian James Cone, the father of Black Liberation Theology, preached the sermon along with Cornel West. The ordination was approved for his work in New Jersey prisons, where Hedges has taught college credit courses for nearly a decade.
Hedges, who was born in St. Johnsbury, Vt., and grew up in a small farm town in upstate New York where his father served as a Presbyterian minister, lives in Princeton, N.J. He is married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong, with whom he has two children. He has two children from a previous marriage.