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On Empire: America, War, and Global Supremacy Hardcover – March 18, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this collection of essays, the British historian denounces globalism's increasing economic inequalities, which in classic Marxist form, he claims burdenthose who benefit least. Not surprisingly, Hobsbawm expects developing political resistance to retard globalism's progress in the next 20 or so years. Eventually, he implies, globalism will merely be a blip in the historically determined process of the international proletariat's triumph. The major obstacle to that development is the United States. Hobsbawm's America essentially has become a rogue superpower that rejects international common law in favor of what he calls imperialism of human rights, which, combined with a fear of terrorism, legitimates U.S. military intervention anywhere the uncontrollable and apparently irrational U.S. government decides. Hobsbawm contrasts the instability, unpredictability, aggression of the American pattern with an earlier, more measured, economically based British version that he considers almost benign by comparison (and is a far cry from his earlier writing on the subject). His loathing for American reliance on politico-military force to pursue global ambitions as unlimited as they are undefined has reached new depths. This erudite polemic may appeal to the intellectual left, but is unlikely to change many minds outside that sphere. (Mar. 18)
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Review

PRAISE FOR ERIC HOBSBAWM’S
The Age of Extremes:
A History of the World, 1914-1991

“The fact is that no other living historian of whatever political affiliation has the intellectual firepower–the range and depth of knowledge, the analytical skill–to bring off a book like this.”
–Niall Ferguson, The Sunday Telegraph

“Hobsbawm’s magisterial treatment of the short twentieth century will be the definitive fin-de-siècle work.”
–Kenneth Prewitt, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

“No historian can match his overwhelming command of fact and source… Hobsbawm’s gift for startling, often seductive generalizations from his material has only grown. He is a historian, not a novelist, but the engine inside his head is a Rolls-Royce imagination.”
–Neal Ascherson, The Independent
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition, First Printing edition (March 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375425373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375425370
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,842,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bibliophile on September 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellently written, but lacking in content. This 90-page, pocket-size book consists of four essays, which on their own are strong, but because Hobsbawm repeats similar themes and statistics in all four pieces, it becomes slightly redundant. On the other hand, unlike Chalmers Johnson's "Nemesis" (another great book on the topic of empires chock full of fascinating tidbits), "On Empire" takes a fairly even hand in analysing the issues. Overall, it's a fast and enjoyable read that covers a pertinent topic in international affairs today.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cumming on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After the tragedy of 9/11 the USA got an outpouring of sympathy and support from the citizens and governments of nations all over the world. Seven years later, the USA has achieved virtual pariah status around the world. They hate us now. What happened?

Hobsbawm is an eminent British historian now living in his 10th decade. He has seen the 20th Century unfold. This collection of essays was taken from speeches he has made since 2001. They go a long way toward explaining how the Bush administration squandered the good will once felt toward us.

Bottom line: our aggressive and immoral attacks on other nations poisoned viewpoints around the world. The US is seen as a rogue nation bent on imperial rule and domination of weaker countries.

We are hated now.
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By Greg LaMotta on February 20, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good, but too general, thoughts on imperialism.
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8 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on March 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
To leftists the word "empire" has the negative connotation that once belonged to Rome: imperialistic, expansionist, hegemonic, and slavery centered. Further, the term has come to belong to be used for the exclusive use of the United States. In ON EMPIRE, British Marxist historian Hobsbawm trots out all the old arguments that had been expatiated on by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and other academic Marxists who view the Soviet Union only through its starting premises of Marx but hold the United States to the much differing standard that even a temporary existence of slavery in all its forms is enough to cancel out any other good it might have accomplished, which in any case, Hobsbawm and his ilk never seem to mention. To build an empire, according to Hobsbawm, requires a nation to exploit its own people, to carry out ruthless aggression against neighbors, and to engage in genocide against any population (including its own) that represents a threat to achieve those goals. The preceding sound pretty much what Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Mao did. And with the exception of Hitler, all were leftist socialists. Hobsbawm falls neatly into the same mindset that afflicts all academic Marxists. That the United States falls into two extremes: on one end is the admitted existence of all sort of social evils (slavery, crime, exploitation, class warfare) and on the other is to extrapolate those evils until they come to characterize the United States with an indelible coating. I have yet to hear of Hobsbawm, Chomsky, or Zinn admit that the United States chose to tear itself apart solely to eliminate those evils that they claim still form its innate nature.Read more ›
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