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on April 28, 2008
The two brief reviews of Empire as a Way of Life need brief comment themselves. First, Williams was not a Marxist though he certainly admired the contributions of Karl Marx to our understanding of how the modern world came into being. He was also curious about how it came to pass that Marx fell into intellectual oblivion.
Second, Williams meant Empire as a Way of Life to be an essay to be read by the widest possible audience and certainly not one to be read after his much more detailed, complex works on diplomacy. And so it happened: Empire became a book widely read by lower division college students in history, political science, and sociology. We welcome the book in its new edition.
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on November 27, 2006
Though dead for sixteen years, it is remarkable how much of a visionary William Appleman Williams truly was. He opens this book with a description of how America's political system has transformed our original ideology into an empire that is ever thirsting for new markets and how we've become more or less a slave to our own creation. Since so few people participate in our political system, our system has devolved into empire, though it remains Williams' hope that somehow this will change. This book is his attempt to illustrate how empire has emerged through the machinations of members of each political party who choose to follow the path of empire. This path has led America to be at odds with much of the rest of the world as we attempt to satisfy our need for growth.

Readers should be forwarned that much of Williams' arguments in this book are rehashings of ideas he put forth with much more detail in Contours of American History, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, and The Roots of the Modern American Empire. Empire as a Way of Life should not be a reader's first encounter with Williams. His earlier works illustrate how deep Williams'knowledge of US history truly is. What this book does is develop his earlier arguments into a concise indictment of our society and its need for empire to sustain our growth. Williams points out that this does not need to be the case, but disinterest amongst American voters and the corporate world's ability to manipulate the issues creats the reality in which empire thrives.

According to Williams, most, but not all, presidents give in to demands for empire and in reality do a disservice to the rest of the world and to our own ideology. Those presidents that do not share imperial thinking, such as Herbert Hoover, fall victim to some external force that limits or prevents them from realizing their full potential. But these are the people Williams speaks of most highly. Others, including FDR, JFK, and Henry Kissinger are not treated with kindness. NSC-68 is another source of our current dilemma for it has served as the blueprint for empire for nearly 40 years. Prior to this document, the Monroe Doctrine played a similar role.

This book does have its oddities, though. At the end of some chapters are accounts of US interventions around the world that seem somewhat out of place. They do not receive much attention in the actual chapter and do not really serve much purpose. However, also buried amongst the pages are Williams personal opinions that make this book such a treat to read.

It says much for a book that was written 21 years ago, predates the current neo-conservative movement, yet does so much to show how current events in Iraq are simply the story playing itself out beyond the pages of the actual book. In the introduction, Andrew Bacevich refers to Willaims as "Jeremiah" and given his ability to project the future, it is a moniker well deserved. We should take heed of what he says.
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on April 17, 2009
In this superb analysis W.A. Williams unveils the continuous hypocrisy of US home and foreign policy. Expansion, conquest and intervention are transformed into `a pious rhetoric of virtue, wealth, freedom and democracy'. In reality, those in power destroyed the cultures of the First Americans, conquered half of Mexico and denied liberty, equality and welfare to large numbers of people at home and abroad.

The roots of these policies are to be found in the surplus production of agricultural and, later, industrial products and the need to conquer overseas markets for selling these surpluses. In other words, it was (is) waging wars for trade. By the way, the surplus proceeds went (go) to a minority.

The few who rule the US see an imperial policy as the end and purpose of American culture. They want to be the just judge (and jury), the center of global government and the policeman enforcing that power!
But for W.A. Williams, it is an illusion to reap the rewards of empire without paying its costs and without admitting that the US is an empire.
As H.J. Raymond said: `I greatly fear we shall sacrifice our liberties to our imperial dreams.'
Already in 1980, 50 % of all US scientists and engineers were employed in military work and 53 % of all tax dollars were used for military operations (more than double the health + education budget).

The author also criticizes heavily Roosevelt's New Deal, because it created an institutional link between the huge companies and the military. Power became even more consolidated and centralized. The State and the large corporations had become the Very Visible Hands oiling the economic process by taxes imposed on ordinary citizens, while the proceeds went (go) to ...

For W.A. Williams, those in power should follow Pilpay's adage that `we ought to do our neighbor all the good we can; if you do evil, the same will be measured back to you'. They should also break the paranoia that defines all US problems as caused by external evil.

This book written by a superb free mind, is a must read for all those interested in human history and for all those who want to understand the world we live in.
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on July 5, 2013
Makes you feel powerful living in the USA, yet so dirty. Can this be the reason why George Washington refused a third term in office? The political angles into "freedom" require an ignorance to ethics. No idea since I am but a peasant, but it is an interesting read.
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on June 29, 2005
U.S. foreign policy is as bad as British foreign policy with Bush and Blair skipping around the world hand-in-hand kicking sand in everyone's faces, along with a few bombs, missiles and so forth. How did we come to this?

William Appleman Williams explained it well twenty-five years ago when he wrote this essay. Imperialism has always been our nation's "raison d'etre" despite all the high-sounding libertarian rhetoric to the contrary. In Williams's Marxist view of elite behavior, elites have always sought to enhance their pocketbooks at the expense of everyone around them.

The Revolutionary War was a war to secure their pocketbooks from the mercantilists in England.

The Constitution was a "coup d'etat" over the Articles of Confederation and the libertarian United States of America because the elites (Hamiltonians) who pulled it off wanted wars with North Africa and the Articles prevented the warmongers from starting them.

The War of 1812 was fought on behalf of Yankee elites and their pocketbooks.

The War Between the States was a war for empire. Abraham Lincoln made a "bargain with the 'Devil'"(p 92) to rape the Bill of Rights on behalf of Yankee elites and their pocketbooks.

The Spanish-American War was instigated by the U.S. on behalf of elites and their desire to acquire the Philippines. After the U.S. liberated the Philippines quite quickly, they spent the next three years killing Filipinos in the name of empire.

The British were so impressed with American empire, they sent a fifth column to win us over to join them in the trenches of France for the Great War. Woodrow Wilson obliged them by sending our boys over to the Western Front to "usher in a millenium of democratic progress" (p134).

After the Yanks said never again and their women had voted in Prohibition to curtail their European-acquired bad habits, FDR came along. WW II had broken out, the Brits sent their fifth column again to win the U.S. back, and the Brits appointed Winston Churchill as Prime Minister because he was half Yankee. After FDR allowed Pearl Harbor which made everyone become what would later be termed "9/11 crazy", he committed our troops to war in Europe. It was a war for American-powered British Empire.

Truman, Eisenhower, and even Kennedy continued FDR's imperialism. LBJ, Nixon, and Carter increasingly flexed their muscles so that when the CIA personnel in Tehran were taken hostage by the Iranian freedom fighters, Williams says they are "hostages to the American Empire" (p 207).

Williams's strong point is his assertion that all of the above conflicts happened as a result of deliberate planning by government puppets of our elites. With 300 of today's 500 billionaires residing here in the U.S., Williams's insight is a big help to understanding who is doing what.

The only caveat is Williams's confusion concerning capitalism and free enterprise, which he confuses with economic fascism or corporatism. He doesn't understand that government came first, then the corporations. Too often, he seems to suggest it happened the other way around.

This fast-paced book is too important to be overlooked. If you want to know why our kids are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan today along with British kids, read this book. We have been doing American-powered British Empire since World War II when the reins were handed to us by British elites who partnered with our elites.

If Williams was not misled by Marx's teachings, he would see that government is the problem and can never be the solution. As Robert Nozick explained in "Anarchy, State and Utopia", government is a cudgel that can be wielded against others by whoever seizes hold of it; therefore keep the cudgel small.
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on November 14, 2012
This book should be read by all Americans who
care about the future of this country and its imperial
role in the world.
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on November 6, 2014
No problems whatsoever.
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on April 12, 2011
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on July 30, 2015
very well written
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on October 8, 2012
I recieved my bool sooner then I thought. In really good conidtioin like new. It has come in handy with History Class..

Leann
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