Seeking Truth in A Country of Lies is a collection of lyrical and critical essays offering keen insight into a very wide range of topics: from cogent analyses related to work, the digital revolution, propaganda, the attacks of September 11, 2001, the CIA, government assassinations and wars, to spellbinding reflections on poetry, nature, time, and even silence. Following in the path of such earlier celebrated essayists as Thoreau and John Berger, Curtin’s critique is at once political, social, cultural, and deeply personal. These essays, constructed over a broad swath of time that encompasses some of the most significant events in world history, give insights guaranteed to expand your mind They shine shafts of brilliant light on abhorrent matters that the ruling elite would prefer to keep buried, often reaching clear and radical conclusions. Reading Curtin is akin to taking a walk in the woods with a good friend who gradually unrolls a stunning life-changing revelation, where, having started out with a particular destination in mind, one is then lured ever onwards into diverging paths another after another, until, as the compass finally turns one gently back toward home, that sanctuary no longer looks the same. A restless wonderment has been aroused, dots are connected, and a comprehensive picture emerges.
Some essays are highly intellectual and structured; some, straightforwardly political; others are meanderings that seek to encompass essential truths that emerge in the telling. Here’s but a taste of his turn of phrase:
- “The morning star welcomed me. The sun rose majestically. And across my window three early flies jitterbug in the first light. The whole earth is conspiring to explode with life and seeking our assent.”
- “Most suicides die of natural causes, slowly and in silence.”
- “Rub Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, the right way and the CIA emerges into the light.”
and his acerbic twist updating Robert Frost to contemporary context:
- “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one to the mall.”
The power of Curtin’s essays lies in their capacity to evoke in the reader the exhilaration and passion for truth that one senses the writer felt when writing them, that the writer hoped would be carried into the world as rebellion against propaganda, war, and injustice. They contain multitudes of trajectories, not least a celebration of the beauty of life and the hope that a better world is possible if people undertake that task.
This book is a feast.
RAY McGINNIS –
“But was another arm of the intelligence community simultaneously grooming anti-establishment recording artists? In Seeking Truth in a Country of Lies Curtin notes that Buffalo Springfield performed in concert, along with the Beach Boys, at the United States Military Academy at West Point, in Orange County, New York, on November 25, 1967. Curtin points out that this is “a very odd venue for a ‘dissident’ rock group.” Their Top Ten hit in the spring of ’67 – “For What It’s Worth” – invited radio listeners to consider, though it wasn’t “exactly clear” what was “happening,” to “stop,” and “look” at what was “going down.”
How did members of Buffalo Springfield feel about performing at the military academy when there were “battle lines being drawn?” And what an odd thing for cadets at West Point to be listening to lyrics that warn:
step out of line, the man come and take you away.
Citing David McGowan’s Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, Curtin notes that “Papa” John Philips of the Mamas and the Papas attended the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and that his dad was a Marine Corps Captain:
John’s wife had worked at the Pentagon and her father was involved in covert intelligence in Vietnam.
The Doors Jim Morrison, a neighbor and friend of Philips, was the son of U.S. Navy Admiral George Morrison who was the commander of American Naval ships during the Gulf of Tonkin incident that accelerated the Vietnam War. Frank Zappa’s father happened to be a chemical warfare specialist. Curtin notes others like David Crosby and Stephen Stills were also from military family backgrounds. And many of these young musicians all converged at Laurel Canyon: Although they were draft age, none of them [were] drafted as they played music, dropped acid, and created the folk-rock movement…
Were these musicians’ part of intelligence community operations, as much as the agents who were harassing them? Or as David McGowan asks, was…the entire youth culture of the 1960s…created not as a grass-roots challenge to the status quo, but as a cynical exercise in discrediting and marginalizing the budding anti-war movement and creating a fake opposition that could be easily controlled and led astray…?
With each chapter, Ed Curtin takes us into different rooms in the doll’s house, and helps us connect the dots. His stories and reflections, in an age of “fake news”, are essential reading.” RAY McGINNIS, Off-Guardian
MAYNARD SEIDER –
“It is the search for truth-telling that shines like a beacon throughout Curtin’s writings.” MAYNARD SEIDER, Berkshire Eagle
JOSEPH E. GREEN –
“If there is a unifying theme — beyond the pleasure of reading someone who thinks, and has an excellent taste in and for ideas, it is to recognize the ways in which our lives are pushing us in one direction or another and to pause and recognize that. Just because the stream is headed in one direction doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to proceed. It may lead to the falls… Curtin’s exceptionally thoughtful and measured writing isn’t a threat to anyone except those who prefer not to think.” JOSEPH E. GREEN, Medium
JOHN STEPPLING –
“This is a rare and uplifting book despite the litany of catastrophes Curtin addresses. Curtin is always clear that the problem is Capitalism, in the short form. The dissolution of the USSR created the hole in intellectual energy that has been filled with a suffocating banality and marketed coercion.The spiritual herein is the kind only those who reject institutional religion can provide. And I believe this book is so valuable because of the love Curtin has for genuine art and radical thought. Culture matters in these pages, and that is something increasingly rare today. It is not possible to recommend this book highly enough.”
JOHN STEPPLING, Off-Guardian
Gary Steven Corseri –
“This book is a keepsake—not just for one’s “Favorites” file (O the times! O the technophilia!) but, for engraving in the mind and heart. (Yes! The two together, as Curtin notes herein, inseparable in our deepest understanding/knowledge/pathos of life!)
Ed travels this inverted road with us. He shows us how to connect the dots, to make sense of the Void (within and without). How to get beyond the mass-media and social-media deceptions; our defined and confined world and vision. Even, how to make space for the spiritual, mystical and inexplicable. How to find clarity and meaning, sometimes even beauty, a “La Grande Jatte” amidst the pointillistic dots; as Frost put it about poetry: “a momentary stay against confusion.” Gary Steven Corseri, Countercurrents
Peter Koenig –
…. Is a revolutionary genius, a profound thinker – who sees truth where others close their eyes. Seeking Truth in a Country of Lies is a visionary analysis of the falsehoods we experience on a daily basis way beyond the borders of the United States.
“In a dark time, the eye begins to see” – is the philosophical underpinning of this marvelous book. Ed dissects with a sharp daring scalpel of courage the coats of hypocrisy and lies until he unmasks the tumor of deception that pervades every layer of our society. Through a universal propaganda machine, fraud permeates our lives and brains. We have become gullible, confused and start believing wrong is right and war is peace. Ed, like Albert Camus, is fighting a constant plague, a never-ending Sisyphusian rebellion towards a horizon of freedom. Ed skillfully weaves through the shams, until we begin seeing the light. As so lucidly expressed by Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. Ed leaves us with a light of hope, eviscerating the scare of darkness, and is opening our eyes. A masterpiece.” PETER KOENIG, Economist and Geopolitical Analyst, author of Implosion, An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental destruction and Corporate Greed