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Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  12,363 ratings  ·  421 reviews
An immediate national bestseller, Hegemony or Survival demonstrates how, for more than half a century the United States has been pursuing a grand imperial strategy with the aim of staking out the globe. Our leaders have shown themselves willing-as in the Cuban missile crisis-to follow the dream of dominance no matter how high the risks. World-renowned intellectual Noam Cho ...more
Paperback, 301 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Holt McDougal (first published January 1st 2003)
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Feb 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, politics
I am positively drawn to the words of Chomsky for the following reasons: he is unflinchingly honest, he writes with a dispassionate demeaner that appears to be completely disinterested, he is never episodic, and the implications of what he writes are startling and desperately important.
Chomsky writes very matter-of-factly, using occasional sarcasm, but never retreating to overblown rhetoric. His quote-heavy prose is straightforward and undeniable. This man is an encyclopedia of historical knowle
My focus for re-reading this Bush-era (junior, the painter) critique of American’s foreign policy is to assess its accessibility. However, a side-tracked foray into reading some negative reviews turned into a useful exercise:

The Criticisms:
--Let’s review the common negative reactions (this will seem elementary to most activists, but it's useful to consider accessibility to wider audiences):

1) “Cynical”, “alienating”, “radical”:
--The curious activist’s dilemma between being accessible (to build m
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A quick read, and has a tone exactly like watching Chomsky speak. The assertions which seem to him incontestable, the thick and layered cynicism, the stoic application of morals no matter the context or scale. The title refers to Chomsky's belief that the world has two options: American global hegemony, or the survival of the human race. If the human race is to survive, America must cease it's quest, almost completed, for global dominance. However, he does not develop the reasons for this to be ...more
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
17 years after it’s publication, reading this Chomsky feels somewhat humorous. Bush and Blair were horrible, but 2020 US foreign policy and Trump ‘leadership’ makes everything previous, pale in comparison. Reading Chomsky is great to keep the critical analysis sharp, and excellent reminders to all the faux policies and discourses we (collectively around the world) have been fed to justify US sponsored and led global terrorism.
Brook Miscoski
Aug 03, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who want an intro or surface level viewpoint on US dominance issues
I think that the issue of hegemony vs valid self interest is a complex issue, and depending on your political biases, Chomsky may be a good place to start. Hegemony or Survival, like most of Chomsky's books on foriegn policy issues, gives a good window into what he has written on those issues. As a mildly idealistic pragmatist, I appreciate the critique of hegemony but did not feel that the analysis and factual assertions were adeaquate to enhance my understanding. I felt let down by a writer wh ...more
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

An incredibly interesting initial argument that gets so battered over the head and dissected utilizing the same damn historical case studies over and over that I could barely finish this book. Chomsky's logic is absolutely sound and the history backs him up. But this book would read infinitely better as a conference paper or as ONE chapter versus the rambling, jumpy, and sometimes amateur analysis it offers instead. Chomsky also seems to suffer here from a real bad case of organization; sectio
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
What to conclude about U.S. foreign policy from Chomsky's fierce, eye-opening critique?

Simply put, the policy is to dominate and control the world politically and economically by wielding an unmatched and ever-expanding military power to crush whomever it deems a threat whenever it wants.

Hence, the title: "hegemony" refers to the current trajectory of U.S. foreign policy (accelerated by Bush II primarily by way of his doctrine of preemptive war in the aftermath of 9/11) while "survival" refers t
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Any caring non-Americans knew what USA did and is doing. Noam Chomsky just managed to write it down into one neat book.
Bob Nichols
Mar 11, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first full-book exposure to the political Chomsky. It's the standard stuff from a "leftist" perspective, and the arguments and information presented are familiar enough to anyone paying attention to the foreign policy of the Bush-Cheney years. While that period is his focus, Chomsky does not limit himself here. Bush-Cheney is just a reflection of what had long preceded it - a history of U.S. foreign policy that cloaks itself in freedom talk, but it is really based on domination. It's ...more
Zach Irvin
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Chomsky is ruthless in this book. He extensively quotes elected officials, academics and news pundits to expose the jingoistic neoliberal agenda America has pursued for decades. Most shocking to me is the candor used by officials when talking about the brutal and exploitative methods America uses to establish power around the world. From the support of murderous dictators to the outright disposal of democratically elected officials that do not support American business interests. Chomsky reveals ...more
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
With crystal clear prose and thoroughly researched (and copiously footnoted) detail, Noam Chomsky reveals the current Iraq war to be just the most recent in a line of ultra-right nationalist aggression by both of the dominant political parties of America as they force (often successfully) an elitist American agenda to the forefront of world politics. Chomsky logically connects the current situation with past American terrorism waged against Nicaragua, Cuba, etc. The man is without question one o ...more
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that's gonna leave me in a vaguely angry mood for the next month. Jesus.
Jean Tessier
Diatribe against American imperial policies.

Early on, Chomsky warns his reader not to confuse state power with a country and its people. One can be critical of state policy while praising the country and its culture. Interestingly enough, one reviewer on has fallen into that trap and assumes that since Chomsky is critical of the current administration, he must hate America too.

Chomsky documents how the Monroe Doctrine has shaped American policy, both foreign and domestic for the past
Scott Lupo
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My first Noam Chomsky book although I have read articles and excerpts from him. This is a great book that details U.S. foreign relations policies up to 2004. Subject matter wise he is THE expert. Not only has he done his homework through diligent research he also puts these complex, multi-layered, and nuanced problems into the light. If you live in a world where you think the U.S. is perfect and altruistic in its dealings with the rest of the world you may not want to read this book as it will p ...more
Amanda L
Chomsky, use your words. To be fair, I wasn't actually able to finish it (yet) but do intend to as it is a thesis demanding attention; however, I did get far enough to shake my judgmental fist. How can entire paragraphs--- let alone pages-- of text be comprised entirely of a string of isolated quotes by other sources with no context? It was like compilation essay(s) by an inexperienced schmuck of an undergrad lacking any semblance of an original thought in his head or influence--- not a renowned ...more
Ericka Clouther
This is a long refutation of the concept that it is helpful to security or morally right to maintain American hegemony. It is also, to a lesser extent, a refutation of that democratic peace theory (the theory that democratic countries go to war with each other less) somehow contributes to increased world peace.

The book is a scathing indictment of American foreign policy which is equal parts nightmarishly frightening (talks about American "terrorist actions") and somehow also totally boring. I t
Sep 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Few contemporary intellectuals divide opinion quite like Chomsky. To his defenders, he sets out an irrefutable case that US history is dominated by an underlying imperialistic aim that is self-serving, hypocritical and essentially malign. To his detractors, his argument often boils down to "US capitalism is responsible for the world's problems, violent resistance to its proliferation is inevitable, therefore that too is the fault of capitalism."

In truth, I've yet to be wholly convinced by Choms
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
In case you're not familiar, this is the book that Hugo Chavez cited at the UN, the day he was railing against the US and calling Dubya the devil and whatever else. A group here in town was doing kind of an impromptu book-group reading of it, so I thought I'd join in. I knew that few of them had read Chomsky before, and being liberals I wondered what they'd think. Personally, I'm a little ways left of liberal, but I'm not the world's biggest Chomsky fan. Before this one I had read some short stu ...more
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
"Not to have read him is to genuinely court ignorance" -Nation

This quote, on the back cover, just about sums it up. With each passing page you become more aware that you know next to nothing about events in the world today, and more specifically how much the US is involved. In fact, it is unlikely that you will initially believe how many pies the US has its fingers in. The portrayal of events feels extremely conspiratorialist, but the evidence is all expounded upon at great length.

The book assum
Marco Pavan
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book gets 5 stars just simply for how it’s written. Every single topic introduced gets dissected and analyzed from a wide array of perspectives and Chomsky does a sublime job in applying both common and linguistical logic to the content itself to draw conclusions.

Given the highly delicate topic and premise of this book, where in most common settings any criticism towards American governments worldwide, especially on their foreign policy, results in being identified as anti-American - which
Greg Talbot
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Chomsky, long recognized as a leading far-left writer and thinker, has something of a defining book in “Hegemony or Surivival”. In some ways, his reflective work on the U.S.'s involvement in global affairs is more important and instructive in 2013, than when the book was published in 2003. Not only does Chomsky give a frightening but comprehensive view of where we are as a country, he details the dark dirty wars that are still largely unknown to the US public. Whether the killing of six Jesuit S ...more
Nov 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Talks all about the first war on terror in the 80's, and the destruction it caused, the failed attempts by the opressed to get america out of their country and to stop killing everyone, America's stranglehold on the UN. He spells out how America is so full of shit by the application of double standards, both philosophically and in the UN, where the rules don't apply to it. It's a pretty sad state of affairs really, when a person or entity is so full of shit as to pronounce vigorously one thing a ...more
C. Scott
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Absolutely terrifying. Chomsky's argument is that American hegemony is more important than the survival of the planet.

This is among the best Chomsky books I've ever read. Easy to grasp. Easy to follow along. Even though this book is more than 10 years old it's still completely relevant.

Maybe it's because I've been reading more about American imperialism - work by Andrew Bacevich and Michael Parenti - but I feel like I got a lot more out of this particular book than I have from Chomsky's other b
Erik Graff
Jul 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chomsky fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Another Chomsky screed, this being an overview of the history of modern American foreign policy in light of its contemporary occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq in the ostensive cause of fighting "terrorism." Chomsky demonstrates again and again and again that the real, the maximum terrorist is the United States of America.

I believe I bought this book at the Evanston Library book sale and lost it by leaving it in the washroom at work. I hope the finder reads the thing.
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Read this book, or live in America at your own peril. To paraphrase one reviewer, to not read Chomsky is to court ignorance.
Parth Agrawal
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I picked up this book, I wondered how could a choice as ridiculous as the title of the book can be presented to mankind. I mean its clear right? What would you prefer: Hegemony or Survival? I guess the people here would agree with me that the right answer to this question is: Hegemony-> As long as we are alive and there is no imminent threat to our survival
Survival-> As soon as we realize that there's an imminent threat to our survival

Well there's one or two flaws with this approach. For
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
You cannot easily disregard the conclusions drawn from this book. There is no such thing as a responsible superpower, irrespective of the ideology. While the British empire was more conspicuous and unshackled by the need to be politically correct, USA has engaged in doublespeak while carrying out its noble agenda of spreading freedom and democracy across the world, while also securing its “strategic interests”.

Those memes of oil, democracy and American obsession make you laugh. You just didn’t k
Noah Oanh
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished this one. Noam made a great point on how the political world works(this book has been written in 2004 but so many points are still valid hitherto).

Few things that I want to note before I leave this book behind:

- If your country is weak, it is really hard to win the voice of the world. Even you are right, you still can't persuade the world to believe you. It happened in many cases like the one in Vietnam war - it took a good 20 years before the world could hear our voice and rec
Gopal Vijayaraghavan
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is widely known that America under successive Presidents, while professing the ideals of democracy and human rights, props up the worst kind of tin pot dictators and dumps them when their purpose is served. Moreover, American establishment creates unimaginable terror in subverting many democratically elected Governments to serve its own interest.
In 'Hegemony or Survival', Noam Chomsky lays bare the real intentions behind the continuous policy of the military industrial establishment of Ameri
I pretty much thought the US (and our current Dear Leader) had become the laughing stock of the world, but today proved just how much that is true.
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Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of linguistics made in the 20th century. H

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