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Showing 1-10 of 72 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 155 reviews
on November 28, 2012
This book hits it right out of the park. It is an unbelievably cogent argument about how US Foreign Policy has caused and will continue to cause future generations of hatred towards America and her citizens. I reccommend this book to anyone who is interested in looking behind the "Media Curtain" to get a highly detailed yet amazingly easy read into the foreign policy blunders the US has committed and continues to commit in countries like Japan & specifically in Okinowa, South Korea & the greater South Pacific Region.

The book makes the case that the US government like the Soviet era government during the Cold War, used other weaker nations as strategic "satellites," to contain the other "political theory" in the political war between capitalism (US) & socialism (USSR) the capitialists won. However, Johnson points out that the US government is still playing by the same rules laid out in the cold war which in turn is costing the US major as far as monetary assets and "good-will" in the face of the citizens of other nations.

The stealth imperialism presented in this book is an eye opening and revealing experience for the reader. After reading this book you will look at the world in a completely new light. You will begin to read news stories and know that there in fact are more pieces to the story presented and you will likely be able to fit those pieces together based on the knowledge you have gained by reading BLOWBACK.
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on November 22, 2014
I am shocked and ashamed at how much I haven't known about what the US has been doing in our name during my lifetime ... behind the scenes, not in the history books, denied at the time, supported by huge financing, never explained to Congressmen, hidden from the American people, without accountability. We, as American citizens, need to begin to comprehend the scope and frequency of governmental covert actions so we can do something to control them ... or our future and our children's future will continue to be in serious jeopardy.... democratic principles rely on citizens making informed decisions to guide institutional policies. "Blowback" is what happens when human rights are ignored and violated. This book is a must read for anyone wanting to learn how to limit practices that are the breeding ground for extremism.
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on June 10, 2015
An excellent primer on the US's Pacific empire. Professor Johnson's arguments are cogent and easily digestible, if not entirely pleasant to the taste. I highly recommend this book! It's a quick, uncomplicated read for a general audience (I only had to look up a handful of words) otherwise unfamiliar with the subterfuge and machinations of empire. The author's focus on the Pacific was both revelatory and embarrassing. The repeated comparisons of the US with the Soviet Union were unsettling. The author's evaluation of, and future predictions for more, blowback are disturbing, especially since it was penned prior to the tragic events of 9/11. The book utterly lacked maps and would've benefited from a couple of clarifying charts and at least one timeline, particularly concerning the recent history of China. I read, underlined, thoroughly annotated in the margins, and passed this book along to expand the thinking of fellow Americans.
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on June 21, 2012
Although the title and opening chapter make this book out to be an overview of the evils of American imperialism, in fact it's primarily an introduction to America's policy in East Asia over the last half decade. Seven of the ten chapters are explicitly about Asian concerns, and the remaining three are also focused primarily on Asia. The moral of these lessons from recent history is that US imperialist policies developed for the Cold War are being foolishly maintained, and the international outrage that they are creating is likely to culminate in political, economic, and security crises for the US.

What makes this book a worthwhile pick for the lay reader is the concept of blowback. In his eagerness to apply this lens to the broad range of events he wants to cover, Johnson stretches this term well beyond it's original meaning, but the point is well taken: Blowback is the side effects of foreign policy that citizens and even politicians do not understand because are ignorant of said foreign policy. For example, 9/11 was blowback for American policies in the Middle East that few Americans are aware of. Because we don't understand how our policies have caused our own woes, we are powerless to rectify them or prevent future blowback. The purpose of this short book is to inform Americans of some of our less admirable actions in East Asia over the last half century and how those actions are likely to be perceived by East Asians. Johnson hopes that, when we have understood the problems we have created and continue to create in East Asia, we will recognize the consequences and take action to avert conflict and ameliorate tensions.

This book was a very worthwhile read. I recommend it to all US citizens who intend to vote in a national election. It has a strong bias, which I like, not because he's right about everything, but because it sends an important message, and because the bias makes it interesting.
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on January 1, 2009
I must admit that I nearly set down this book of Chalmers Johnson on reading the prologue. There, Johnson offers praise for committed communist and "old China hand" John Stewart Service. Having previously read M. Stanton Evan's very important "Blacklisted by History", I was familiar enough with Service to know that anyone praising him would have an extraordinary bias in favor of Marxism and communist China. And while this bias does seep through in Johnson's work, it does not entirely diminish it. Finally, I am glad that I continued to read the book. And I feel that I profited from doing do.

Johnson essentially argues that America has created an imperial system that will ultimately unravel of its own weight. In fact, his last two chapters, written, I believe, in the late 1990's are extraordinarily prophetic in this regard. Johnson basically avers that the American empire may finally be brought down through its own inherent economic contradictions. From the perspective of the ending years of the first decade of the 2000's, this judgment is really to be applauded.

Readers ought to be aware that this book deals almost exclusively with American imperial operations in East Asia. There is particular emphasis on Japan and China. In addition, there is much important information revealed relative to Korea, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Here, Johnson's insights are excellent, and extremely valuable. But, even noticing this, we must also point out that many of Johnson's judgments in regard to Japan and China are clearly influenced by the above mentioned association with such as Service, and are really inaccurate. In particular, I can report that, like Johnson, I served as a US Navy officer in Cold War Yokosuka, Japan. From having so served, I can also report that Johnson's description of Yokosuka is very misleading in certain aspects. There was no "brothel exclusively for Navy officers", as Johnson reports, of which I was aware. And, as Police Operations at the Fleet Activity in Yokosuka, I would very likely have been aware of one if it indeed existed. Now, it may be that one did exist in the fifties when Johnson served in Yokusuka. But it almost certainly did not in the seventies.

The writing is generally very good. And the points made are important. Some of the insights could rightly even be styled as extraordinary. However, we can't help but to observe that the overall quality of the book is deeply marred by the evident prejudices of the author, alluded to above. In general, we recommend this book, but with a "grain of salt".
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on June 15, 2010
If all you do is read the standard textbooks and listen to the platitudes that come out the mouths of our ruling class, you will never get the complete picture of "why they hate us." Former Cold Warrior Chalmers Johnson details how the national security apparatus set up during that era and the foreign policies implemented has laid the groundwork for most today's international troubles. "Blowback", a CIA term referring to the unintended consequences of polices that were usually kept secret from the American public, is detailed and explained in depth. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has not fully adapted to the post-communist era by rolling back militarism and government secrecy. America continues to maintain a global garrison of bases and relentlessly intervenes in the internal affairs of other countries openly and covertly. In Johnson's words, "The evidence is building up that in the decade following the end of the Cold War, the United States largely abandoned a reliance on diplomacy, economic aid, international law, and multilateral institutions in carrying out its foreign policies and resorted much of the time to bluster, military force, and financial manipulation. The world is not a safer place as a result."

The one disappointment I had with this book was the lack of focus in the Middle East. Nevertheless, it is to be expected since the author is an East Asia expert and most of book focuses on American actions there.
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on September 26, 2008
In the Introduction to the book Mr. Johnson tells the reader the circumstances of when the term "Blowback" first appeared in a government document related to covert C.I.A. actions of 1953.

The author shares his critical view of the American empire and uses the U.S. military bases in Japan and Okinawa as examples.
He also examines the joint exercises that various U.S. military organizations perform with some nations known for brutal human rights violations.
On accountability he made this observation, "The Pentagon's most recent route around accountability is 'privatization' of it's training activities."

Another aspect of American imperialism is the actions of the International Monetary Fund that often leads to political instability.
On financing he discusses the enormous sums of money in the U.S defense budget to maintain access to Persian Gulf oil and why that's a priority.

"The American Empire has become skilled at developing self-fulfilling and self-serving prophecies in order to justify it's policies." -page 92.
No truer words have been written about the subject.

He offers up an accurate assessment of free trade, particularly with China. "The second aspect of human rights in China we must recognize is to ensure that poor working conditions and prison labor in China (and elsewhere) do not end up destroying the livelihood of American workers."

Chalmers Johnson clarified the financial as well as the military aspect of the American empire citing the positions of Adam Smith and John Hobson.
"Smith and Hobson both believed that finance capitalism produced the pathologies of the global economy they called mercantilism and imperialism."
He observes that capitalists are seldom happy with being capitalists and would prefer being monopolists, inside traders, or usurers.

After reading all three of Chalmers Johnson's trilogy books, I regard "Blowback, Second Edition" as the best.
If you want to understand how the American empire works and why blowback happens, this book is a "must read".
It covers the many aspects of American imperialism and in an easily understood fashion. Destined to be a foreign policy classic, if it isn't already!
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on June 5, 2016
Like everything else of Chalmers Johnson's, this book was full to bursting with information and insight. A very different look at the American Empire's overseas involvement that makes the Brits in India and Africa look like child's play.
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on August 16, 2013
He is a scholar of East Asian economics and political science. I can't remember exactly what group he was asked to join but it was either the Pentagon, CIA or some other surveillance group years ago. They needed his expertise on East Asian politics, life style and economics.. This alerted him to the military-industrialist complex going on behind our backs at our tax-payer expense, not to mention all the un-repayable debt to the Federal Reserve that we are accumulating now....

Blowback is a term that the govt. uses to assess "If we do this or that militaristic aggressive thing to another country, what will be the repercussions.....?" This is the first in his trilogy of books... This deals with Vietnam, Korea, WWII, China, Japan, Okinawa, etc.... Our first venture into world takeover by the American imperialist govt. Did you know that there are at least 700-800 military bases world-wide that are run by the US govt.? Why is the US there? To establish a military-industrialist one-world govt. controlled by the US....."Globalization", another code word for takeover....

This is not a conspiracy theory book... Its just hard facts that he learned as he worked with the clandestine activities of the US Pentagon, CIA, and other covert agencies we don't even know about.... He was just a mild-mannered educator at a California college for most of his life... But he became alarmed by what he saw....And he was also surprised that most of the information he was given is not even top secret - so he was able to discuss it in his trilogy of books....Its a great read if you really wonder what's going on these days and its definitely not another conspiracy theory book - he backs it up by lengthy references throughout the book... Many of which I've checked. I'm the world's biggest skeptic:-)
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on November 18, 2015
Chalmers Johnson, like Andrew Bacevich, hits the proverbial nail on the head with their assessment of the actual cause and effect relationship between American militarism and the consequences most politicians and citizens are unwilling to see. Johnson is clear and direct in presenting his viewpoint and must be considered by both military and civilian if they truly seek to understand how American foreign policy will play out in the coming century. We need more skepticism of militarism, especially in the United States.
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