From Publishers Weekly
A few pages into this slim manifesto, its clear that Jensons latest offering is a heavy critique of the U.S.s post 9/11 policy, the war on terror and George W. Bush. It would be remiss, however, to reduce this work to mere complaint. Jensen, a journalism professor at the Univ. of Texas, Austin, delivers a concise, telling, first-person account of what he argues is the "alienation and isolation that so many feel in the face of the triumphalism common in the country" since the attacks. He questions why America has developed such "an incredibly degraded political culture" and criticizes U.S. academic institutions for their "unwillingness to take seriously their role as centers of knowledge and their refusal to create space for debate and discussion." It is up to the citizens of the empire, Jensen says, to "build movements that can transform peoples opposition into political power." That sounds like a tall order, but Jensens use of personal anecdotes, analogies and in-your-face common sense makes the reading easy and his request sound doable, even logical. Jensens premise gains momentum as he correlates the increase of American civil liberties to decreased public participation, reminding readers that the "degree to which a society is democratic also can be judged by how extensive and active are citizens attempts to participate in the formation of public policy." He couples his opinions with a solution for those progressive thinkers who want to help, making the book a sort of handbook for people who are looking for new ways to engage fully in the democratic process of citizenship.
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"Robert Jensen does more than challenge us to think and feel he also encourages us to transform our lives. While Citizens of the Empire provides cogent information and analysis, the book also offers real clarity about the emotional imperatives of coming to terms with grim aspects of the status quo. At the same time that he demolishes media myths about the "war on terrorism," Jensen takes apart key mechanisms of propaganda, militarism and convenient illusions. Midway through the first decade of the 21st century, this book will jolt readers into a truer reckoning with their own beliefs and capabilities. Jensen makes a powerful case that we can stop being passive spectators and start being active co-creators of history. Citizens of the Empire is a book of realism and hope a strong antidote to the poisons of conformity and despair." Norman Solomon, Co-author, Target Iraq: What the News Media Didnt Tell You, Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy -- Review