Open in the App Open in the App Open in the App
Get the key ideas from

Empire of Illusion

The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

By Chris Hedges
15-minute read
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle  by Chris Hedges

Empire of Illusion (2010) offers a close examination of declining literacy levels in the United States, and the disastrous effects that this educational catastrophe is having on the country. These blinks will explain how TV is pacifying the US citizenry, how corporate power has taken over the country and what this means for the future.

  • Anyone interested in US history, politics or economics
  • Educators, policymakers and students
  • Concerned citizens interested in the decline of American academia, culture and national unity

Chris Hedges is an American journalist. He has worked for The New York Times as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, and is also the author of the best-selling books War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Death of the Liberal Class.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

Empire of Illusion

The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

By Chris Hedges
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle  by Chris Hedges
Synopsis

Empire of Illusion (2010) offers a close examination of declining literacy levels in the United States, and the disastrous effects that this educational catastrophe is having on the country. These blinks will explain how TV is pacifying the US citizenry, how corporate power has taken over the country and what this means for the future.

Key idea 1 of 9

Widespread illiteracy is cutting Americans off from reality.

Believe it or not, the United States is currently experiencing an illiteracy epidemic. This serious educational failure is helping make Americans the most illusion-prone people in the world.

In North America, functional illiteracy – the inability to accomplish everyday reading and writing tasks – is rising to alarming levels. In fact, approximately one-third of the US population is barely literate or entirely illiterate. For instance, one study found that 7 million Americans are illiterate, another 27 million can’t read enough to complete a job application and 50 million read at a fifth-grade level!

Americans generally aren’t interested in books. Research has shown that after graduation, about one-third of high school students don’t read another book for the rest of their lives. And the same goes for 42 percent of those with a college degree.

This trend was actually foreshadowed by two classic works of dystopian fiction. In the first book, 1984, George Orwell painted a picture of a totalitarian regime in which books were off-limits and information strictly controlled.

But it was one of his contemporaries that really hit the mark. His name was Aldous Huxley and his novel Brave New World portrayed a future society obsessed with entertainment, one in which banning books wasn’t necessary because nobody wanted to read anyway.

However, a lack of interest in reading doesn’t mean that Americans don’t get enough information; the only problem is that the country’s primary form of mass communication, television, is excellent at manipulating images and distorting reality.

One study found that a TV is on for approximately seven hours a day in any given American home. The average american watches TV for about four hours a day – so, by the time a US citizen is 65, they’ll have spent nine years of their life in front of a television!

TV continues to be hugely popular because it communicates through familiar clichés, presents predictable and easy-to-digest content, such as reality shows and sitcoms, and gives viewers the illusion of an exciting life while comforting them in their passivity.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.