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War and Empire: The American Way of Life and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

War and Empire: The American Way of Life

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ISBN-13: 978-0745327648
ISBN-10: 0745327648
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Editorial Reviews


Masterful ... [Paul Atwood] gives us a panoramic view of American expansion, beginning with the first invasions of the continent and continuing to the present wars in the Middle East. He does this with a rich command of history, and at every stage measures the pretensions of the state against the real motives of power and profit. -- Howard Zinn, Professor Emeritus, Boston University, author of A People's History of the United States A clear-headed and compelling account of the development of the American empire, an invaluable corrective to standard myth-making accounts and one that should be read by all students of America's past. -- Marilyn Young, professor of History at New York University, author of Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth Century History (NY, the New press, 2009) and The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990 (NY, Harper, 1991). In this myth-busting book, Paul Atwood offers an impassioned and provocative challenge to all that Americans think they know about how the United States became a great power. -- Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism

About the Author

Paul Atwood is a senior lecturer in the American studies department and research associate in the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, both at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is a Vietnam-era veteran and an editor of Sticks and Stones: Living with Uncertain Wars (2006).


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (March 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745327648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745327648
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R. N. Cable on May 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
This concise, powerfully written and densely documented "alternative interpretation of the American past" from Captain John Smith at Jamestown (1609) to President Barack Obama today unreservedly gets five stars! Paul Atwood, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and son of a WWII Marine combatant evidently has concluded from his experience, as did two-time Medal of Honor winner USMC Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler in 1933, that "War is a racket. The few profit--the many pay." Or as Atwood concludes in his Preface, "every war in the American past was at bottom a matter of choice, not, as our national ideology proclaims, a necessity. War has never made the world safe for peace but only for more war."

Atwood's quarter-century career at the University of Massachusetts at Boston has been a passionate, professional attempt to demonstrate this fact to students from "the United States of Amnesia" (in Gore Vidal's characterization); and this book is a clear and convincing exposition of his thesis which he amplifies first in the 16-page "Introduction: American Ideology versus American Realities." The 10 main chapters then compellingly unfold under a series of summarizing rubrics. (View the "Contents" pages at this website.) Illustrations and maps are absent in this book; but the narrative is crystal clear and engaging without them. This overview of American history is thoroughly referenced in 16 pages of Notes based on a Bibliography of over 100 volumes.

"War and Empire" concisely complements "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn (Atwood's graduate thesis advisor). It concentrates on U.S.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Weathers on May 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent and well-developed antidote to the sanitized version of US history taught in schools that has served to build up self-serving national myths. Beginning with America's roots in Europe (and especially Great Britain) and covering all the way to the election of President Obama, this book shines light on the development of US foreign policy and on the real reasons how the United States grew from a British colony into a global empire.

I didn't give it the highest rating though because it is edited in a strange way where summary pieces from the introduction are repeated verbatim in each chapter and sometimes the chronology inside a chapter will leap around a bit and repeat pieces of information. I found it distracting. Also, I would have preferred if the author had made his case more fully in some spots rather than simply assert motivations. While I know he is correct from more in depth coverage of these subjects that I've seen elsewhere, critical readers not familiar with these subjects will have trouble simply taking his word for it.

Despite these flaws, it is still a worthy book that should be widely read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Ludwig Watzal on June 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
Former US President Ronald Reagan called in a speech to the "National Association of Evangelicals" in Orlando, Florida in 1983 the former Soviet Union an evil empire". Having read War and Empire" by Paul L. Atwood this characterization fits perfectly well to US-American foreign policy. What the author presents to the reader makes one shiver.

Starting out as a nation born in the fight against British colonialism, the US has become the world largest imperial power. The US does not only wage two neocolonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the later together with Nato, but it has also military bases in 141 states and 11 territories, out of 191 states comprising the United Nations. American arms patrol all the seas and skies, including outer space. This is not enough, the Pentagon declares flatly that it wants to achieve nothing less than full-spectrum dominance" over any potential foe in the future.

When former US President George W. Bush stated that Muslims might hate the US because of they hate freedom and American values, he was totally wrong. If Muslims hate at all the US, it would be solely for their brutal occuption of Muslim countries and their double standards in international affairs, especially towards their "albatross-like ally, Israel" as the autor calls it. After 9/11 the majority of Americans demanded revenge. President Bush initially called for a "crusade" against Muslims. Attacking Afghanistan was not enough.

Paul L. Atwood, Senior Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, set the record stright right from the beginning: The US is not a peace-loving nation that will avoid violence at all costs. On the contrary, "War is the American way of life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mangolia on February 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not the story as taught by my elementary school teachers. The book is well written and interesting from front to back covers. A must read for anyone interested in better understanding the context underlying the current domestic and international conflicts, and the quickly evolving geopolitical situation in the world.
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