Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)” as Want to Read:
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,337 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
"Impressive . . . a powerful indictment of U.S. military and foreign policy."
-Los Angeles Times Book Review, front page

In the years after the Soviet Union imploded, the United States was described first as the globe's "lone superpower," then as a "reluctant sheriff," next as the "indispensable nation," and in the wake of 9/11, as a "New Rome." In this important national
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 6th 2005 by Metropolitan Books (first published 2003)
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 The Sorrows of Empire, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Sorrows of Empire

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Oct 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
The sorrows, indeed. I’ve finally gotten to listen to the second part of this fascinating trilogy and am now sorry that I listened to them out of order. They are the kind of books that really do stay with you.

I’ve given up hoping people will actually be able to do something about Neo-colonialism, there is now, of course, no hope that things will change anytime soon. The thing that amazes me is how self-satisfied we tend to be about the suffering that happens in the world. It is as if poverty wa
Patrick McCoy
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Chalmers Johnston’s latest current affairs book, The Sorrows of Empire, is about American militarism and the secrecy surrounding it, as well as imperialism. In the prologue he says:

If I overstate the threat, I am sure to be forgiven because future generations will be so glad I was wrong. The danger I foresee is that the United States is embarked upon a path no unlike that of the former Soviet Union during the 1980s. The USSR collapsed for three basic reasons-internal economic contradictions dri
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
A harsh and critical look at U.S. foreign policy and current cultural atmosphere. While much of Johnson's book seems like the unashamed, far-left kooky America bashing, I believe that he has hit onto something that few Americans would like to admit: that the presidency and the military exercise far more power in our country than is healthy for a democratic-republic like ours. For example, his two chapters titled " "The Institutions of American Militarism" and "Surrogate Soldiers and Private Mer ...more
Dec 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
The recently deceased Chalmers Johnson was a former CIA man turned apostate from the American Imperial project. This book is an account of the American Empire, its flaws and weaknesses. It's rather well-documented, to the point where one wants to skip some of the details. Johnson also adopts, with the zeal of a convert, some of the nostrums of the Left.

That said, this is a well-documented and largely accurate account of where we are, which is in a very bad place. We failed to take account of wha
Aug 16, 2007 rated it did not like it
Bascially, this is a tedious argument for isolationism and unilateral withdrawal from the world, since we are at the heart of all the planet's problems (at least according to Chalmers) and that most of our problems stem from our military and the economic and political forces tied up in the "military-industrial complex."

The problem with the argument is not that one can't make a reasonable case for such a position; it is that Chaulmers does not. For example, he translates the global web of America
Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Amazing book about militarism in the United States. You'd think that after the U.s.s.r. fell we'd have spent less money on the military. uh, no. We have something like 1,000 military bases around the world where the laws of their locations do not apply. The last two chapters are about economic Globalization in the 90's and military globalization in this decade. I never really understood the concept of globalization and why people rallied against it and the IMF and the world bank. The last two ch ...more
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most depressing books I've ever read. Sorrows of Empire, indeed.
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Lots of essential facts about the military expansion of the US empire, written by a former conservative turned anti-imperialist.
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
In 2004, early in the endless war in which the United States is now engaged, Chalmers Johnson set out to write an overview of the American Empire, one characterized not by colonies around the world, but by a network of military bases and an economic system (globalization) that forces all countries except the United States to adhere to the rules of neoliberalism.

Simply put, this book is about the results of neoconservatism in pushing American military power, and neoliberalism pushing American eco
Elliott Bignell
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally got around to reading this polemic long after the Bush Presidency was over, when you might think its message less urgent. Be not fooled, as Johnson's model of US Empire and the sorrows which ride in its wake is rooted in history going back to the 19th Century and not merely a reaction to a single Administration.

Johnson's horsemen ride in the traditional team of four: Perpetual war and the terrorism it provokes as a response, erosion of democracy and constitutional rights with a Pentago
Pam Walter
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I first marked this book as "to read" because of a review I read in A People's History of the United States Zinn's book told of American military presence in untold sovereign nations. To understand what I mean when I say UNTOLD, one must simply read Lies My Teacher Told Me Once the United States was conquered from sea to shining sea, U.S. imperialism took off.

The 20th century began and nurtured a sense of entitlement. This century of hegemony began with Theodore Roosevelt who professed not to b
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This book is concerned with the rise of the American empire and its consequences on the nation. I found this to be much more interesting than his book "Blowback," but it does get long in sections as he lists the location and histories of American military bases around the world and recounts the buildup to both Iraq wars.

In the end, he predicts four things that will result from the empire--the last is the most frightening--economic collapse.

I was most intrigued by the section on oil in the Caspi
May 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Chalmers Johnson lectured in a class of mine in grad school at USD. He's an unassuming man with an intellect that pulls from experience and exhaustive research. I find him in a similar vein as Noam Chomsky. While critics could call him out, his meticulous indictment of US foreign policy and militarism flows with logical expansion of an empire for purposes of obtaining the spoils of war. If your not into this kind of thing it will be difficult to read, but if you like connecting the dots, Johnson ...more
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: American citizens
Recommended to Jerome by: The DVD
This is the kind of book more Americans should read. Scary in it's implications. Are we heading for a military takeover by the pentagon? Will the people of the U.S.A. be able to take back the government that was supposed to be of, by and for the people? Is George W. the first of a line of presidents to weaken the constitution? Why do we have a military far larger than we require to defend the nation?

Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Anybody who questions the concept of American Imperialism can put those to rest by reading this book. Although dated by more than a decade, events transpiring since only add to the case made by Mr. Johnson. The last few pages allow Mr. Johnson to ponder how this situation may be rectified, but, sadly, we had yet to see the Citizens United ruling, and a military budget that grew to twice the size he was talking about then! Sadly, the solution now seems even further away...
Noelle Campbell
Mar 30, 2010 rated it did not like it
Horrible waste of an hour. Not even good enough propaganda to read the entire first chapter.
Mazen Alloujami
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting study on the sliding of the USA politics from democracy to imperialism, with some interesting prognosis and warnings.
Jeff Carpenter
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Chalmers Johnson is the best ammunition to have in a political discussion about the U.S.A.
Patrick Doyle
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Published in 2003, some of the material is dated, however, the prescience of Chalmers Johnsons's analysis and predictions has only become more relevant.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I hate how obvious it is that we're all going to die.
Martin Rose
Nov 27, 2013 rated it liked it
First, this was an excellent overview of ascending American militarism and its effects; Chalmers Johnson died in 2010 and it's worth noting that to take such a bird's eye view of an entire empire across several generations and within the context of an entire globe is no small task. What people may not readily understand is we, as the reading public, benefit in volumes from Chalmers Johnson's ability to see these problems in their gestalt -- and in a broader understanding of Chalmers Johnson's wo ...more
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the second book in Chalmers Johnson's "Blowback" trilogy. I'd say that it's on par with the first entry, "Blowback", & it does more than just rehash the same issues. He does not ignore the problems of the military & the actions typical of Empires that the U.S. takes but he doesn't repeat himself. He focuses on the issues of militarism, the belief in "American Exceptionalism", events & lies that lead to the second Gulf War & how 9/11 was just the convenient excuse they nee ...more
Sam Roach
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Roman imperial sorrows mounted up over hundreds of years. Ours are likely to arrive with the speed of FedEx. If present trends continue, four sorrows, it seems to me are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative impact guarantees that the United States will cease to bear any resemblance to the country once outlined in our Constitution. First, there will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a growing reliance on weap ...more
Nov 05, 2010 rated it liked it
I'll say one thing for Chalmers Johnson's writings - they certainly make me think and challenge my assumptions. Johnson is an unrepentant critic of American militarism and imperialism and he makes a convincing case that the U.S. is on the way down because of these factors. I do take issue with how, at the start of the book, he seemed to cherry-pick statistics about U.S. armed forces stationed overseas, making it sound like every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine in uniform was little more than ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disturbing, enlightening, essential.
Mike Scarbrough
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very good book, number two in the "Blowback" trilogy. It is sad to witness the shameful behavior of Empire, but we are here nonetheless.

This book is not a sweet bedtime story. It is an insightful and rigorously documented exposition of the United States' soul-less plundering and pillaging of nearly everyone else on earth, whether by sneaky CIA induced coup, IMF/World Bank economic enslavement, or the biggie.....military dominance. It is all about money, power, and control. Everything
Joseph Montuori
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Johnson's thesis is simply that the United States government has, in fact, established an empire, largely in the post-Second World War period.

It's aim is to secure and maintain military, strategic, and economic control over resources and trade desired by the U.S. He also reveals the high degree of secrecy and subterfuge the U.S. Government uses to hide or mask the number, size, and extent of U.S. Military influence and control within our government and within foreign states. His evidence is met
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: blame America first-ers, masochists, people who are too happy
Chalmers Johnson lays out the thesis that America now maintains, through its foreign policy, economic policy, and military deployment, a new kind of empire, on the order of ancient Rome or the British empire. The book is very long on exposition and explanation, and describes our military footprint on the world (nearly 800 bases in 130 countries!) and their size, expense, and location cannot be explained as defensive. Johnson uses the word "militarism," which he defines generally as the use of fo ...more
Kristen Lemaster
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
So full of information, incredible historical anecdotes, and interesting quotes from powerful people. The first half is very readable and entertaining, then as more information is injected into the book, it gets pretty heavy and slow, but still worthwhile. Johnson is brilliant, very critical of the military-industrial complex and America's self-proclaimed role as the New Rome, and most importantly, hopeful that we can change the duplicitous, dangerous nature of American militarism so that we don ...more
Carolina Lins
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Acabei comprando esse livro na promoção e fiquei curiosa para ler, mesmo sabendo o que a mídia já havia dito antes. Eu comprei na banca de revista esse livro que estava lá jogando com um monte de preciosidades. Eu queria ter comprado mais livros daquela banca, mas acho que a moça ia achar estranho... Acabei, infelizmente, comprando 3 livros e fiquei com vergonha de ir lá de novo. Terminei agora um livro, estou embarcando em outro, por águas desconhecidas.Pois é, arrisco muito em livros e vou tot ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War
  • Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II
  • The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times
  • The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade
  • Whiteout: The CIA,Drugs and the Press
  • Turning the Tide: US Intervention in Central America & the Struggle for Peace
  • In the Ruins Of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia
  • Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich
  • Empire of Capital
  • Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
  • Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country
  • Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism
  • The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule
  • House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power
  • Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America
  • Hitler and the Holocaust (Modern Library Chronicles)
  • Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul
  • The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War
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...