Zach Cohen's Reviews > Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope

Dismantling the Empire by Chalmers Johnson
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's review
Nov 13, 2010

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Read from November 10 to 13, 2010

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 society, while simultaneously maintaining a military empire abroad. He analyzes in depth the fiscal consequences of the US attempt to do so, and the resulting financial catastrophe that we are just beginning to see unravel. He demonstrated irrefutably how self defeating and unsustainable our present course is, and argues that we take the gentler path of voluntarily scaling back our empire rather than waiting for it to collapse under financial implosion and/or military defeat.

These are the common threads that run through the book, however, they are presented in a series of essays that originally appeared on a news/commentary website to which he contributes. While the essays are, in and of themselves, generally fantastic, they don't work cohesively very well as a book beyond the fact that the same basic themes are repeated. The repetition in numerous essays of the same statistics can get old. Also, despite the common themes, the topics do sometimes jump around abruptly, though the editors did try to arrange them in a logical way. I must not have read the description well enough to realize this was the case, so my expectations were colored by the fact that I thought I was buying an actual book, rather than a collection of short pieces.

In summary: 5 stars for content, 1 star for selling a bunch of essays I could have read online as a book =)

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