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Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  253 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
The author of the bestselling Blowback Trilogy reflects on America's waning power in a masterful collection of essays

In his prophetic book Blowback, published before 9/11, Chalmers Johnson warned that our secret operations in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe would exact a price at home. Now, in a brilliant series of essays written over the last three years, Johnson mea
ebook, 224 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by Metropolitan Books (first published August 1st 2010)
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Sep 19, 2010 Jafar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The low rating is not because I disagree with what Johnson is saying. On the contrary, I admit that I picked up this book so that it can reconfirm my own standing on the issue, that is, we need to roll back the empire before it brings about our demise. No orchestrating military coups, no manipulating foreign governments, no wars, no regime changes, no military bases anywhere in the world, no military interventions even for humanitarian reasons, no taking side in other countries’ conflicts, no pu ...more
Oct 22, 2010 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was very good – I was expecting it to be pretty much a repeat of everything said in his Blowback series (and, to be honest, there was some of that) but there was also enough new and interesting material to keep me reading. The part I enjoyed the most was the reference to Legacy of Ashes (a book I’ve now started reading, even though I don’t really have time and already think is a must read, absolutely amazing).

His argument is that the US has basically two options on its road forward: one is
Aug 02, 2010 Marcia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In order to understand where we are now in the scheme of the international community, we must read the books of Chalmers Johnson. Dr. Johnson is remarkable as a raconteur of the miserable state of affairs the USA has bungled into by way of deceit, media manipulation so citizens build no context out of which to judge the current events, and in the fog of confusion and lack of truthful information permit our taxes to fund cruel interventions and takeovers of foreign nations by force in order to us ...more
Lauren Albert
Jan 18, 2011 Lauren Albert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
A frightening look at America's "base imperialism." I hadn't realized how omnipresent our military bases are. Johnson claims that the D.O.D. defense budget for 2008 was larger than that for ALL other countries combined. A lot of that, of course, would be spent in support of those bases. I do try to be skeptical of such large claims no matter the politics of the person making them so I would have to do some research before I would state that as a fact.

The book, like many such collections of essa
Eleanor With Cats
I'm in love. I was born decades too late. This guy takes complex and dark subjects like terrorism and corporate corruption and secret illegal torture by spies and makes it as understandable, compelling, and funny as Molly Ivins essays. (Admittedly the humor is even drier than Ivins' and perhaps a tad cynical.) Johnson was probably one of the best writers anglophone academia has ever had. He also seems to have been insightful, idealistic, and appreciative of the absurd.

I have faith in our instit
Zach Cohen
This is my first Chalmers Johnson book. While I thoroughly enjoyed and would award 5 stars for his cogent, well supported arguments and observations, I did not enjoy the format.

Johnson deconstructs our military bureaucracy to reveal self defeating imperialism, profiteering, and profligate spending, among other trends he identifies as threatening to the well being of the US. He argues eloquently that no country in history has been able to remain democratic and economically provide for its civil
Jan 18, 2011 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a terrific series of essays by Professor Chalmers Johnson on the hidden costs of maintaining America's military influence across the globe. While Johnson does stray into some (weaker) morality arguments, his focus is mostly on the economic realities that aren't widely debated in the mainstream media, that America can simply no longer afford its Military Industrial Complex (aka domestic jobs programs).

Johnson does stray into a rather searing and hilarious critique of former Congressman Ra
B Kevin
Jun 08, 2012 B Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
This (along with the other 2 books in the triogy, Blowback and Nemesis, is an important read for anyone concerned about the future of the US, both economically and politically. Will we gracefully dismantle our empire of some 747 military bases (not including Iraq and Afghanistan) over 500,000 troops, spies, contractors, dependents, and other on military bases located in 130 countries (there are only 192 countries in the UN) and the bloated military budget that goes with it, or will we take the s ...more
TJ Wisner
This book should be read by the Left and the Right if we don't want to go the way of former Empires. What Chalmers Johnson goes into here should not be labeled Left or Right. It's obvious he is comfortable as a Leftist with his Bush bashing in the first part of the book. He is right about Bush, however it's not gonna get a typical neo-conservative to go on reading the book, which is to bad because almost everything in here is so vital to the future of this country and the world. World domination ...more
Richard Ward
Got a lot out of the book. I tell everyone who listens that the US government has the opposite of the Midas touch, turning everything it touches into trash. This book reminded me to include the CIA in such a statement and that it, too, as part of the government, is inept to the point of ridiculous. The author calls for the CIA to be disbanded, as it should be. In the US we worship the military and can't bring ourselves to admit that it might be as inept, wasteful, and abusive as the rest of the ...more
Jason S
I love Chalmers Johnson, but this was by far not one of his best books. There were no footnotes, the prose was ranting at times, and the articles (most reposted from the internet) were repetitive and not much different from his earlier books. Blowback was 100% better.
Mar 31, 2011 Ob-jonny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Chalmers Johnson's final book and it is a concise analysis at the out of control military spending and the ridiculous number of US military bases, and how this is hurting the American economy. It debunks the myth of military Keynesian which states that military spending stimulates the economy. All of this spending is inflationary and results in no exports or imports of goods. In other words, there is nobody to sell all of this useless military equipment to. It's really amazing to think t ...more
Dec 03, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This is a collection of essays concerning the state of the American empire. Johnson demonstrates that the military-industrial complex not only exists, not as a conspiratorial sort of existence, but as a real, and entrenched system of military Keynesianism--where the government uses the Department of Defense, defense contractors, the CIA, and so on as a means for job creation and economic growth. But what Johnson argues is that this is economic suicide. Building bombs and weapons systems destroys ...more
Apr 17, 2015 Marlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazingly prophetic, particularly since it was written before 9/11.
Hunter Marston
Aug 11, 2012 Hunter Marston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
provocative, prescient, a good read. a little too leftist on some issues: for instance, abolish the CIA? draw down our embassy initiatives in the middle east? Johnson seems to think that US foreign policy is all governed by what he calls the "military-industrial complex," a conspiratorial nexus linking the republican party and defense industries. most of his research is sound and very insightful, but some of his conclusions are astonishingly naive and radical. still, his general line of thought ...more
Nov 27, 2013 Zachariah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good analysis of our overreaching American empire but because of the essay style format it gets a tad repetitive. As short as this book is, it felt like it could have been even shorter. Also, I felt the way sources were addressed was a little weak. It basically says if you want sources, look them up on Seems kinda lazy if you ask me.

Nevertheless this book sends a powerful message, despite its flaws. There's really no excuse not to read this.
Jun 19, 2013 R.Z. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Chalmers Johnson is the president of the Japan Policy Research Institute. I had read his "Sorrows of Empire" and was very impressed with his thinking. This book is a compilation of his essays written from 2004 -2009. Johnson is an incisive thinker who is unafraid of talking truth to power and his ideas should at least be on the table for consideration. It is interesting to see how many of his ideas from past years are still valid and more important than ever.
Earl Simmons
First of all, I was sadned by the death of the brilliant Chalmers Johnson. As of the book, it had good points, which I've always agreed with, I mean just from the title, the acknowledgment of the existence of an American empire, denied by most Americans was enough for me ! It's just that sometimes it's a bit boring when the author gives irrelevant examples to illustrate, and that have nothing to do with the matter in question.... But anyhow, it was a good read !
Sep 19, 2010 Luke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good ol fashioned liberal leaning rant that's content could have been adequately covered in 2 pages instead of 200.
Still, the more I think about it, the more it bothers me that foreign military spending isn't debated nearly as much as domestic spending issues, and for that reason I appreciate this book. It's hard for me to not compare the US to a fading Roman empire. It's an uncomfortable thought.
I think I'm becoming a libertarian...
Oct 13, 2011 Bebe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook - continued education, this book should be mandatory in schools. Politics, Militarism I am ashamed at how little I know. This book is written so it is easy to understand, maybe not comprehend why things are the way they are.
Beware the Industrial Military Complex, none heeded Eisenhower and now we are in a big dodo.
George you have to read this book!!!!
Miroku Nemeth
Mar 14, 2012 Miroku Nemeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read Johnson's trilogy preceding this book--this is a great summary of his perspective on the contemporary over-extension of American imperial power in 200 or so pages as opposed to the perhaps 1400 or so in the other texts (though the research and information in those books is invaluable). Essential reading.
Kevin Summers
The format of the book (as a collection of essays) is limiting, as some of the writing is repetitive.

Sample quote: "If we cannot cut back our long-standing, ever increasing military spending in a major way, then the bankruptcy of the United States is inevitable. ... We do not have much time left."
Mike Moskos
Jan 08, 2013 Mike Moskos rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book, 2013-read
I love Chalmers Johnsons' exposes of government misdeeds (particularly this about our military empire), but the book would have been far more interesting if it had been written from scratch, rather than a reprint of already published essays.
C. Scott
Dec 05, 2013 C. Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important message. I already agreed with almost everything this author said before reading this book, but it was elegantly put. Completely worth reading if you have any questions or concerns about how much money the US spends on defense.
Dec 15, 2012 Gene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the tradition of Kevin Phillips' "Wealth and Democracy", Johnson reiterates the mainstream media's ignoring of the economic consequences of empire and concentration of wealth: the demise of our democracy, as predicted by Louis Brandeis.
Aug 27, 2012 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good book by Chalmers Johnson. This book is part of his Blowback trilogy. He does a great job again by explaining how our foreign policy and the military industrial complex is leading our nation down the path of other (failed) empires.
Mar 08, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book laid out a convincing argument - strongly argued - that the current direction of our nation in the global perspective is not only wrong headed it is self destructive and destructive of the rest of the world as well.
Feb 12, 2011 Eva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read! I felt this book made some great connections and opened my eyes to the vast amounts of money that is not funneled to social services....
Author makes some valid points, although a bit strident and repetitious at times (for such a short book).
Jan 06, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Serious food for thought about U.S. military spending and its conscequences.
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Chalmers Ashby Johnson was an American author and professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego. He fought in the Korean war, from 1967-1973 was a consultant for the CIA, and ran the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley for years. He was also president and co-founder of the Japan Policy Research Institute, an organization promoting public education a ...more
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“Even though the American people may not know what has been done in their name, those on the receiving end certainly do: they include the people of Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1959 to the present), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Indonesia (1965), Vietnam (1961–73), Laos (1961–73), Cambodia (1969–73), Greece (1967–73), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979 to the present), El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua (1980s), and Iraq (1991 to the present). Not surprisingly, sometimes these victims try to get even. There is a direct line between the attacks on September 11, 2001—the most significant instance of blowback in the history of the CIA—and the events of 1979.” 0 likes
“On this issue, the United States is an outlaw, waiting to be brought to justice.” 0 likes
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