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Extended Audio Sample The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic Audiobook, by Chalmers Johnson Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (628 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Chalmers Johnson Narrator: Tom Weiner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781455188352
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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 bestseller, Chalmers Johnson thoroughly explores the new militarism that is transforming America and compelling us to pick up the burden of empire.

Recalling the classic warnings against militarism—from George Washington’s farewell address to Dwight Eisenhower’s denunciation of the military-industrial complex—Johnson uncovers its roots deep in our past. Turning to the present, he maps America’s expanding empire of military bases and the vast web of services that support them. He offers a vivid look at the new caste of professional militarists who have infiltrated multiple branches of government, who classify everything they do as “secret,” and for whom the manipulation of the military budget is of vital interest.

Among Johnson’s provocative conclusions is that American militarism is already putting an end to the age of globalization and bankrupting the United States, even as it creates the conditions for a new century of virulent blowback. The Sorrows of Empire suggests that the former American republic has already crossed its Rubicon—with the Pentagon in the lead.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Chilling…a frightening picture…of the spread of American military control over the world.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Original and genuinely important…The role of the prophet is an honorable one. In Chalmers Johnson the American empire has found its Jeremiah. He deserves to be heard.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Impressive…a powerful indictment of US military and foreign policy.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “Trenchantly argued, comprehensively documented, grimly eloquent…Worthy of the republic it seeks to defend.”

    Boston Globe

  • “[A] provocative, detailed tour of what [Johnson] sees as America’s entrenched culture of militarism…one of the most startling and engrossing accounts of exotic defense capabilities, operations and spending in print.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A provocative summons to the task of reining in a runaway military.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessie | 2/17/2014

    " It takes courage to write a book like this and sometimes, I felt like it did to read it. But too imporatant not to. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gary | 2/14/2014

    " 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 a felon-in-waiting. Certainly, there are legitimate problems in many places overseas where U.S. troops get in trouble with the local law (Johnson cites quite frequently Okinawa, with good reason). I have served twice in Okinawa and can attest to the fact that there are a great many U.S. bases there, and that seemingly outside the gates of every one are an array of bars and clubs catering to the wants of young people far from their own home. Sometimes the patrons of these establishments get out of hand and incidents occur. At any rate, while I was consuming this audiobook, I also screened the 2005 documentary movie "Why We Fight," in which Johnson appears. It was interesting to see him on screen delivering some of the same warnings against empire and militarism that are contained in his books. I had previously read his 2000 book "Blowback" and in fact this book covers some of the same ground, but even so, this book covers a lot of new ground, coming as it did after 9/11 and the 2003 Iraq War. I plan to get to some of Johnson's more recent books in the future, though the recently published "Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope," will certainly be his last book, as that he passed away last November. Recommended for those who have an open mind to criticisms of the U.S. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Moana | 2/7/2014

    " This book takes an annoyingly paternalistic view, but overall an interesting looking into American global military presence. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Justin | 1/24/2014

    " Fascinating and disturbing critique of the militarist imperialism of the US in the 20th and 21st centuries. In many ways Chalmers paints a picture of a cultural and political force constructing its own eventual ruin. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caloway Gavin | 1/16/2014

    " Charmers perspective as a former DoD and CIA insider is invaluable in his leveling of American military and foreign policy. He forces you to ask the question 'what really matters to the US' and whether our current commonly accepted policy by both major political parties still makes sense. Interestingly, some similar thinking has also surfaced at the NDU and recent JCOS briefings. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason Clay | 1/11/2014

    " The quasi imperialistic empire of the US is inherently doomed to a coming inglorious end and this book points out the basis for that end. I would highly recommend this work to any one interested in the politics of the new world order. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Noelle Campbell | 1/7/2014

    " Horrible waste of an hour. Not even good enough propaganda to read the entire first chapter. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jon | 1/3/2014

    " Lots of essential facts about the military expansion of the US empire, written by a former conservative turned anti-imperialist. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patrick | 12/29/2013

    " The first half, which covers the actually military might, is great, but the second half was on the economics, which I know of already. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steven | 12/26/2013

    " Very good and very detailed. Author makes no bones about the fact that it's not easy for him to "diss" his native country, but the transgressions we've allowed in favor of a military-industrial-Congressional complex are vast and deserve to be debated publicly. Sadly, this debate rarely takes place. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joseph Grillo | 12/12/2013

    " difficult at times with his wide range of statistical information but excellent and informative, comparing the iraq war with ceasar crossing the rubicon with out permission if the roman senate. well done "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 12/12/2013

    " A great eye-opener, even if taken with a grain of salt. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Harold Swarthout | 12/7/2013

    " Military Industrial Complex, Ike, oh lord! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sasha | 11/4/2013

    " This is the second and best of Chalmers Johnson's analysis and history of the US becoming an empire. Fabulous analysis but esoteric if you aren't interested in the subject matter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 10/3/2013

    " If you have wondered if there exists a counterpoint to The Lexus and the Olive Tree, this is it. Some excellent analysis and insight, but more often than not the rhetoric over-reaches, which sadly diminishes the important message. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 C.b. Daring | 9/1/2013

    " That there are really only two or three countries in the world that don't have U.S. military bases. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lisa | 1/25/2013

    " A great argument against unilateralism and the consequences of the United States's proactive approach in military policy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 12/28/2012

    " A book documenting the negative impact the large military budgets in the United States is having on American democracy and the American economy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jordin | 7/14/2012

    " A bit oversimplified. Johnson is capable of far more in-depth analysis than this. A good starting point for describing the network of bases around the world, but light on the details. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erwin | 5/18/2012

    " Excellent. I'll supply details soon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 L. Wolfe | 5/4/2012

    " Johnson's writing could be simpler and more compelling. However, his head is in the right place. This book explains why America's continued pursuit of superpower status will ultimately destroy what is most important to us. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Seri | 2/18/2012

    " Of the "trilogy" this one was the most interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 1/13/2012

    " Chalmers Johnson put a lot of work into the research for this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James | 12/29/2011

    " An extraordinary book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nate | 12/9/2011

    " Johnson depicts the perilous nature of American empire through an investigation of the U.S.'s foreign military bases and privatization of defense. Sorrows of Empire proves Eisenhower's chilling warning of the military-industrial complex gone awry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Forsythe | 4/5/2011

    " I think that this book is invaluable to anyone who thinks about the US and our place in the world. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robert | 2/18/2011

    " A dogmatic fellow who meanders back and forth between the same points again and again. Some good insights as to the extent of our military presence around the world, but that's about it. Highly biased and simplistic interpretations of history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adrian | 12/9/2010

    " Learn how screwed we really are. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lisa | 9/7/2010

    " A great argument against unilateralism and the consequences of the United States's proactive approach in military policy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessie | 8/23/2010

    " It takes courage to write a book like this and sometimes, I felt like it did to read it. But too imporatant not to. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 6/30/2010

    " If you have wondered if there exists a counterpoint to The Lexus and the Olive Tree, this is it. Some excellent analysis and insight, but more often than not the rhetoric over-reaches, which sadly diminishes the important message. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Noelle | 3/30/2010

    " Horrible waste of an hour. Not even good enough propaganda to read the entire first chapter. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patrick | 3/1/2010

    " The first half, which covers the actually military might, is great, but the second half was on the economics, which I know of already. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jordin | 1/26/2010

    " A bit oversimplified. Johnson is capable of far more in-depth analysis than this. A good starting point for describing the network of bases around the world, but light on the details. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 1/4/2010

    " I think that this book is invaluable to anyone who thinks about the US and our place in the world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 11/29/2009

    " The quasi imperialistic empire of the US is inherently doomed to a coming inglorious end and this book points out the basis for that end. I would highly recommend this work to any one interested in the politics of the new world order. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 3/19/2009

    " A book documenting the negative impact the large military budgets in the United States is having on American democracy and the American economy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 11/11/2008

    " Chalmers is one of my main homies. I love this guy. I love his sober, gimlet-eyed analysis. This one volume holds the best broad explanation of where we've been and where we're at that I know of. "

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About the Author
Author Chalmers Johnson

Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, is the author of the bestselling books Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis, which make up his Blowback Trilogy. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, the London Review of Books, Harper’s Magazine, Nation, and TomDispatch.com. He lives near San Diego, California.

About the Narrator

Tom Weiner, a dialogue director and voice artist best known for his roles in video games and television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Transformers, is an Earphones Award winner and Audie Award finalist. He is a former member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.