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Michael John Parenti (born 1933) is an American political scientist and cultural critic who writes on scholarly and popular subjects. He has taught at American and international universities and has been a guest lecturer before campus and community audiences.[1][2]

Michael Parenti
Michael Parenti
Michael Parenti
BornMichael John Parenti
New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationPolitical scientist, historian, media critic
EducationCity College of New York, B.A.
Brown University, M.A.
Yale University, Ph.D.
SubjectHistory, politics, economics
ChildrenChristian Parenti

Education and personal lifeEdit

Michael Parenti was raised in an Italian-American working-class family and neighborhood in New York City about which he has written.[3] He received a BA from City College of New York, an MA from Brown University, and his PhD in political science from Yale University. Parenti is the father of Christian Parenti, an author and contributor to The Nation magazine.


For many years Parenti taught political and social science at various institutions of higher learning. Eventually he devoted himself full-time to writing, public speaking, and political activism.[4] He is the author of 23 books and many more articles. His works have been translated into at least 18 languages.[5] Parenti lectures frequently throughout the United States and abroad.

Parenti's writings cover a wide range of subjects: U.S. politics, culture, ideology, political economy, imperialism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, free-market orthodoxies, conservative judicial activism, religion, ancient history, modern history, historiography, repression in academia, news and entertainment media, technology, environmentalism, sexism, racism, Venezuela, the wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia, ethnicity, and his own early life.[6][7][8] His influential book Democracy for the Few,[9] now in its ninth edition, is a critical analysis of U.S. society, economy, and political institutions and a college-level political science textbook published by Wadsworth Publishing.[10] In recent years he has addressed such subjects as "Empires: Past and Present," "US Interventionism: the Case of Iraq," "Race, Gender, and Class Power," "Ideology and History," "The Collapse of Communism," and "Terrorism and Globalization."[5]

In 1974, Parenti ran in Vermont on the democratic socialist Liberty Union Party ticket for U.S. Congress and received 7% of the vote.[11]

In the 1980s, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. In Washington, D.C., in 2003, the Caucus for a New Political Science gave him a Career Achievement Award. In 2007, he received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from U.S. Representative Barbara Lee and an award from New Jersey Peace Action.[citation needed]

He served for 12 years as a judge for Project Censored. He also is on the advisory boards of Independent Progressive Politics Network and Education Without Borders as well as the advisory editorial boards of New Political Science and Nature, Society and Thought.[12]


To Kill a Nation: The Attack on YugoslaviaEdit

In 2000, Verso Books published Parenti's To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia.[13] According to Kirkus Reviews: "Parenti dissents from every piece of conventional wisdom about the former Yugoslavia’s breakup, the Kosovo crisis, and the NATO bombing campaign against the Serbian state in purported support of the Kosovar Albanians. Instead, he assembles an alternate history in which an American-led coalition backed by aggressive financial interests precipitated the civil war and the profoundly destructive air campaign that killed at least 3,000 civilians."[13] Publishers Weekly's review stated: "Parenti gives an unabashedly critical assessment of this intervention, based on a solid and passionate rejection of Western leaders' 'lies' about events in the Balkans and Western interests in that part of the world. Readers not familiar with his leftist analysis may find Parenti's dismissal of NATO's justification for its 1999 bombing campaign shocking or silly; others may find it thought-provoking."[14]

The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient RomeEdit

External video
  Booknotes interview with Parenti on The Assassination of Julius Caesar, September 7, 2003, C-SPAN

In 2003 The New Press published Parenti's The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome.[15] PW said, "Parenti... narrates a provocative history of the late republic in Rome (100–33 B.C.) to demonstrate that Caesar's death was the culmination of growing class conflict, economic disparity and political corruption."[16] Kirkus Reviews wrote: "Populist historian Parenti... views ancient Rome’s most famous assassination not as a tyrannicide but as a sanguinary scene in the never-ending drama of class warfare."[15] Kirkus Reviews described the book as "revisionist history at its most provocative."[15] Political Affairs wrote: "This is an excellent book and a good read."[17]

God and His DemonsEdit

Prometheus Books published Parenti's 2010 book God and His Demons.[18] Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Don Lattin said: "God and his Demons is a depressing, mean-spirited book. Much of it is a recounting of the usual suspects we find in the new wave of atheist chic nonfiction - targets like Islamist extremists, TV preachers, child-molesting Catholic priests, Christian-right political operatives, creationists, cult leaders and, for historical context, a reminder that the Crusades and the Inquisition were no picnic either, along with a tired recounting of all those troublesome passages in the Hebrew Bible and the anti-Semitism in much New Testament translation."[18] Calling it an "angry volume" that "makes no clear argument", Publishers Weekly said: "His condescending tirade is directed not so much at religion as at human beings whom—one gets the impression—he can barely suffer."[19] Gregory Erlich, writing in Counterpunch (3/24/10), said, "God and His Demons is exceptionally well-written book, infused with the author’s characteristic style, wit, no-nonsense analysis and deeply-felt humanism. This ranks among the author’s most important works, deserving of the highest praise."

Appearances in mediaEdit

Apart from several recordings of some of his public speeches, Parenti has also appeared in the 1992 documentary Panama Deception, the 2004 Liberty Bound and 2013 Fall and Winter documentaries as an author and social commentator.

Parenti was interviewed in Boris Malagurski's documentary film The Weight of Chains 2 (2014). He was also interviewed for two episodes of the Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, speaking briefly about the Dalai Lama (Episode 305 – Holier Than Thou) and patriotism (Episode 508 – Mount Rushmore).

New York City-based punk rock band Choking Victim use a number of samples from Michael Parenti's lectures in their album No Gods, No Managers.





  1. ^
  2. ^ "Speaking Engagements by Michael Parenti". Michael Parenti. Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 25 December 2007.
  3. ^ Parenti, Michael (August 2007). "La Famiglia: An Ethno-Class Experience". Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader. City Lights Books. p. 403. ISBN 978-0-87286-482-5.
  4. ^ Parenti, Michael (1996). "Struggles in Academe: A Personal Account". Dirty Truths. ISBN 0-87286-317-4.
  5. ^ a b "Biography of Michael Parenti". Michael Parenti. Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 25 December 2007.
  6. ^ "Articles and Other Published Selections". Michael Parenti. Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 25 December 2007.
  7. ^ a b Parenti, Michael (August 2007). Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader. City Lights Books. p. 403. ISBN 978-0-87286-482-5.
  8. ^ "Books by Michael Parenti". Michael Parenti. Retrieved 25 December 2007.
  9. ^ a b Parenti, Michael (February 2007). Democracy for the Few (Eight ed.). Wadsworth Publishing Company. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-495-00744-9.
  10. ^ CENGAGE Learning. "WADSWORTH CENGAGE Learning political science". Retrieved 3 January 2008.
  11. ^ Sanders, Bernie (1997). "You Have to Begin Somewhere". Outsider in the House.
  12. ^ Parenti, Michael. "Michael Parenti Political Archive". Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  13. ^ a b "To Kill a Nation; The Destruction of Yugoslavia". Kirkus Reviews. December 1, 2000. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  14. ^ "To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  15. ^ a b c "The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome". Kirkus Reviews. June 1, 2003. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  16. ^ "The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome". Publishers Weekly. May 26, 2003. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  17. ^ Riggins, Thomas (June 24, 2004). "Book Review - The Assassination of Julius Caesar, By Michael Parenti". Political Affairs. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Lattin, Don (April 5, 2010). "Review: 'God and His Demons,' by Michael Parenti". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  19. ^ "God and His Demons". Publishers Weekly. January 11, 2010. Retrieved July 25, 2017.

External linksEdit

Michael Parenti's articles