Books for changing the world
The Forging of the American Empire

This is the story of a nation—the United States—that has conducted more than 160 wars and other military ventures while insisting it loves peace.

In the process, the US has forged a world empire while maintaining its innocence of imperialistic designs. From Mexico to Lebanon, from China to the Dominican Republic, from Nicaragua to Vietnam, the US has intervened regularly in the affairs of other nations.

Yet the myth that Americans are benevolent, peace-lving people who will fight only to defend the rights of others lingers on. Excesses and cruelties, though sometimes admitted, usually are regarded as momentary aberrations.

In this comprehensive history of American imperialism, Sidney Lens punctures the myth once and for all by showing how the US, from the time it gained its own independence, has used every available means—political, economic, and military—to dominate other peoples.

  • “In early 2003, Michael Ignatieff, a Harvard professor, wrote in the New York Times:

    America’s empire is not like empires of times past, built on colonies, conquest an the white man’s burden. We are no longer in the era of the United Fruit Company, when American corporations needed the Marines to secure their investments overseas. The 21st century imperium is a new invention in the annals of political science, an empire lite, a global hegemony whose grace notes are free markets, human rights and democracy.

    Only someone blind to the history of the United States, its obsessive drive for control of oil, its endless expansion of military bases around the world, its domination of other countries through its enormous economic power, its violations of the human rights of millions of people, whether directly or through proxy governments, could make that statement.

    What Sidney Lens wrote around 1970 about ‘the myth of morality’ encircling American imperialism was clearly still in evidence in 2003. His history of American empire is essential for understanding what still goes on in our time.” —From the foreword by Howard Zinn

    “The observations Sidney Lens made of American imperialism in the 1970s are still valid today. You could say they were prophetic. I’m so glad this book is being republished. It couldn’t be timelier.” —Studs Terkel

Other books by Sidney Lens