Sarah's Stars

James Laxer. Empire: A Groundwork Guide
Groundwood Books  $12.95 ISBN 978-0-88899-707-4  135 pg.
Reviewed by Meghan, Age 15

An empire exists when one nation, tribe or society exercises long-term domination over one or more external nations, tribes or societies. Through that domination the imperial power, or empire, is able to determine many of the key political, social, economic and cultural outcomes in the dominated society or societies. And that is the critical point ≠≠Ė≠ the ability of an empire to determine what happens, the outcomes in the societies under its control, is what distinguishes an empire from other forms of political organization.

Empire covers the basic points of imperial power and charts the history of the American Empire, which is slowly gaining power over most of the world. Although it may sound like a dry read, Empire is actually a fascinating and captivating read. There are five sections: What is an Empire? Past Empires, The American Empire, Cracks in the American Imperial Armor and Resistance to the Empire.

Empire was an amazing read. From the very fist page it reached out and caught me, pulling me into a long lost world full of ambitious lords and vast empires. Although Iíve grown up next to the United States and my father grew up within them, I didnít know half of the story revealed in Empire, indeed, I doubt that the average American has no idea how much money their country spends on defense or how many military stations the U.S. has in other countries. It was a huge surprise, finding out exactly how much power the United States has in todayís world.

James Laxer is a professor of political science at York University in Toronto and the author of sixteen books including Stalking the Elephant: My Discovery of America so heís well versed in the history of the American Empire and its politics. I especially liked how Mr. Laxer viewed all the empires with the same objective eye. At first it was a little disconcerting to read the names of Charlemagne, Napoleon and Hitler all in the same sentence, but I found that the objective style of writing made you focus more on the science of the empire rather than its achievements.

I thoroughly enjoyed Empire, it was much more interesting than back-cover blurb implies. There were a few words that I didnít understand at first, most were explained within the sentence or paragraph but there were a few I had to refer to my dictionary for explanations. It was an easy read except for those few words, a small and compact book with fairly large print. I would recommend it for boys, girls and adults, ages 13 and up.

Iíd give Empire: A Groundwork Guide four and a half stars out of five.

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