Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire” as Want to Read:
Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,991 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews
Now with a new and up-to-date Introduction by the author, the bestselling account of the effect of American global policies, hailed as "brilliant and iconoclastic" (Los Angeles Times)

The term "blowback," invented by the CIA, refers to the unintended results of American actions abroad. In this incisive and controversial book, Chalmers Johnson lays out in vivid detail the da
Paperback, 2nd, 268 pages
Published 2004 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Blowback, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Blowback

Community Reviews

(showing 1-10)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Apr 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is remarkable. The guy is one of the United State’s foremost experts on China and Japan. The main thesis of the book is that because the US has not really adjusted its foreign policy to account for the collapse of the Soviet Union it is still essentially fighting the cold war. But fighting the cold war isn’t really a good idea, particularly for the US, as it effectively gives an unfair economic advantage to East Asia. He claims that the US needs to better integrate both its foreign pol ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Blowback was written before 9/11, the event that was to make the word known. It refers to the U.S. actions in the world that bring a response detrimental to the U.S., 9/11 being a the prime example. Americans like to think of the U.S. as a rational actor with good intentions in opposition to crazed people out to do us harm. It's what we are fed by our government and by our news media, but it's mythology. Blowback presents the truth, where foreigners are just as rational as we are and have unders ...more
Kym Robinson

Book Review -
‘Blowback’ by Chalmers Johnson.

Blowback is a book that many of us know about due to its relevance in the post ‘9-11’ world. Because of this I had known about this book for some time before I was able to track it down and dig my paws into its pages. Johnson was a man who I had heard give interviews and seemed to be one of the 'go to guys' for the US anti-war movement. The book was published before that date and the terrible terror attacks which seemed to change much of the World. B
Matt Shake
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is another book I read in college. In political science there are two basic philosophies: "realism" and "idealism." When I was young I used to lean more towards political idealism. This philosophy encourages people to do things out of ideological principle. But Johnson wrote this book from a realist perspective, and I liked it enough that it ignited a slow conversion for me. Realists basically encourage people to act out of self-interest. But I've noticed two shades of realism: cold, hard, ...more
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Every year or so I tell myself that I need to be consuming policy books. Someone of my background really should be better versed in the available literature, after all. It would be good to broaden my intellectual horizons and see what sorts of theories are floating around out there. Then I pick up something like this and become hastily reacquainted with my reticence. I remember that the genre has basically made an art form of stringing together vaguely misleading and highly curated details into ...more
Chris White
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting review of the influences of the American empire on the second half of the 20th century and early 21st. You reap what you sow.
Satyaki Mitra
This book provides an insightful analysis of the flaws and ineptitude of American Foreign policy, principally with focus on the East Asian region. The author being one of the foremost scholars on East Asia, attempts to make his readers understand the dual and hypocritical role the US has been playing in East Asia, encouraging and even directly aiding dictatorships and inflicting unimaginable brutalities that are not much dissimilar from the policies the former USSR used on it's satellite states. ...more
G. Branden
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I recall, this is the first book I read after the September 11th attacks.

It was a good choice. Originally published in 2000, it saw a reprinting not long after I bought my copy--evidently I wasn't the only person impressed with Johnson's appearances on NPR at the time.

Essential reading for anyone who doubts that the United States constitutes an imperial power in the world (whether for good, ill, or both).

Johnson also makes the strongest case I've yet read for a civilian peacetime draft. The
Aaron Minks
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any American with a grain of salt
Recommended to Aaron by: Michael Laney
Shelves: non-fiction
Chalmers book was more than thought provoking but maybe not quite live changing. The entire point of the book was convered early on and and Chalmers seemed to belabor it. It was a good point but hammered so hard and repeatedly that I did not finish. I got the point, appreciated it, learned from it, and set the book aside. Warning: Chalmers has a distinctly Anti-American bias. I'm not sure how he got it but it's fills the pages. To say that American involvement in foreign affairs more often leads ...more
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wakeup
Lots to recommend in this book: great perspective on America's economic and military bullying (though, largely focused on east Asia). Connects the dots between American policy abroad and the collapse of manufacturing and the middle class at home.

One thing I hate about books like this is confronting the depth of my own ignorance.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2015 Reading Chal...: Blowback by Chalmers Johnson 1 10 Jul 30, 2015 08:38AM  
  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
  • The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War
  • House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power
  • War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death
  • Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
  • Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism
  • How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok
  • Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them
  • Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich
  • The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War
  • The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America
  • A Nation of Sheep
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
  • A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the  Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies
  • Endless Enemies
  • America's Great Depression
  • Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
  • Future: Tense: The Coming World Order?
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
More about Chalmers Johnson...
“It is time to realize, however, that the real dangers to America today come not from the newly rich people of East Asia but from our own ideological rigidity, our deep-seated belief in our own propaganda.” 6 likes
“The Nature of Political Terrorism The suicidal assassins of September 11, 2001, did not “attack America,” as political leaders and news media in the United States have tried to maintain; they attacked American foreign policy. Employing the strategy of the weak, they killed innocent bystanders, whose innocence is, of course, no different from that of the civilians killed by American bombs in Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.” 3 likes
More quotes…