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Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity

4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0872864320
ISBN-10: 0872864324
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A few pages into this slim manifesto, it’s clear that Jenson’s 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 people’s opposition into political power." That sounds like a tall order, but Jensen’s use of personal anecdotes, analogies and in-your-face common sense makes the reading easy and his request sound doable, even logical. Jensen’s 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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Review

"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 Didn’t Tell You, Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy -- Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872864324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872864320
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,520,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Jensen is a professor of media law, ethics and politics at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream, among other books. He also writes for popular media, and his opinion and analytic pieces on foreign policy, politics and race have appeared in papers and magazines throughout the United States.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Sometimes book blurbs get it right: "Robert Jensen supplies a much needed citizens' manual, that explains the evasion of moral principles that underlie appeals to patriotism. His justified concerns over his country's and the world's future is meshed with discussion of the basis of hope and the possibilities of constructive action," writes Edward S. Herman.
To me it is Herman's second point that makes Citizens of the Empire vital reading for anyone concerned about our country's road to empire. Jensen offers cogent analysis of the rhetoric neocons use to justify America's bellicose swaggering across the world stage as well as the historical precedents that led us here. But more important is Jensen's optimism that all is not lost, that we citizens of the empire need not and should not give in to the despair and cynicism so many of us suffer in post-9/11 America.
Jensen cuts through the thicket of Orwellian deceptions that entangle us daily, especially in this election season. But I recommend Citizens of the Empire for its heart.
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Format: Paperback
This book really hit home, because I think it addresses questions a lot of people have right now, but maybe don't want to discuss. I think its getting easier and easier for us all to see that something is terribly wrong, but it's not easy to articulate.
And, for me at least, when you do try to articulate it, you find a culture that doesn't want to engage these questions.
Looking critically at the world can become overwhelming. Where do we start? Is there any point? What do you do in the face of so much power, and so much injustice?
Jensen doesn't profess to have all the answers, and that's why the book is so powerful. This isn't a fact-laden, academic book. It's meant to be read, passed along, and talked about. Sure, there are good introductions to arguments against the war, and details of past U.S. aggressions, but the strength of the book is much bigger than that. Jensen talks honestly and humbly about our place in the world, and in doing so actually gives some hope that we can become human beings.
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Format: Paperback
When I read books like the excellent "Citizens of the Empire" I feel hope that yes, there are people who look at others (different races and religions) as humans and not as some strange people which we must step on.

Jensen gives some answers to the blind "patriotism" that has taken over our country. Things like "America is the greatest" and "Support our Troops" are used to frame debates and anyone who dissents is labeled as "anti-American" - whatever that means.

Jensen tries to appeal to basic human senses of empathy and humanity. He talks about the reality of war - cluster bombing and other types of indiscriminate bombing which lead to death, destruction and despair. Remember guys, each time an innocent person dies in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever we attack/have attacked - we are killing that person. You, me - our tax dollars are used to buy weapons to kill those people.

The conclusion that the author reaches at the end of this book is this: If you truly want peace, join the anti-war movement. To people who actually research U.S. history and our destructive foreign policy, this seems like common sense. But for others who actually think that it is ok to invade nations and kill innocent people - Jensen's words won't make sense. Perhaps in the future when America is not the superpower of the world - which is going to happen within 20 years, naysayers of Jensen and blind patriots will finally realize reality.
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Book review on "Citizens of the Empire"

Robert Jenson's "Citizens of the Empire" is well subtitled "The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity". Although Robert Jenson does not delve too deeply into spirituality, he sends a profound message that the prevailing culture of consumer materialism, patriotism and militarism in America is suppressing what should be the transcending spiritual nature of our humanity.

In American society, there is no debate that Americans value individual freedom over all other human values. However, upon a close examination of American culture, Robert Jenson points out how Americans are hardly free at all. Jenson argues that American citizens are truly captive to a corporate consumer culture. Until American citizens become more introspective of American culture, Jenson asserts that we are incapable as a nation of becoming more human in the fullest sense of the term.

In summary, Jenson provides a jolting analysis of American culture that shatters the illusions of American innocence. It lays bare the truth of how citizens of the empire "choose not to know". To those citizens who do choose to know, they are the radical ones. They are the citizens Jenson challenges to organize, to be part of a movement, to work it out with like minded people, and of most importance, to choose not to be radical entirely on one's own.

(...)
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By A Customer on June 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Sometimes book blurbs get it right: "Robert Jensen supplies a much needed citizens' manual, that explains the evasion of moral principles that underlie appeals to patriotism. His justified concerns over his country's and the world's future is meshed with discussion of the basis of hope and the possibilities of constructive action," writes Edward S. Herman.
To me it is Herman's second point that makes Citizens of the Empire vital reading for anyone concerned about our country's road to empire. Jensen offers cogent analysis of the rhetoric neocons use to justify America's bellicose swaggering across the world stage as well as the historical precedents that led us here. But more important is Jensen's optimism that all is not lost, that we citizens of the empire need not and should not give in to the despair and cynicism so many of us suffer in post-9/11 America.
Jensen cuts through the thicket of Orwellian deceptions that entangle us daily, especially in this election season. But I recommend Citizens of the Empire for its heart.
Comment 10 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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