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Extended Audio Sample The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, 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:
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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.”


Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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