Pretensions to Empire

Notes on the Criminal Folly of the Bush Administration

The distinguished essayist’s incisive critique of the Bush regime—a must-have book for political junkies and Lewis Lapham fans

“Lapham writes from a long and honorable tradition of speaking truth to power, and he is among the wittiest, most lucid stylists in the business. . . . None of his observations proves to be anything less than prophetic.” —The Boston Globe

Pretensions to Empire brings together Lewis Lapham’s recent political commentaries from his National Magazine Award–winning Harper’s “Notebook” column, beginning with the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and culminating in Lapham’s eloquent (and widely cited) case for the impeachment of George W. Bush.

Written in the highly literate and “self-assured style” (Publishers Weekly) that has earned Lapham a large and devoted readership, the pieces in this collection provide not only a critical perspective on Bush’s presidency—helping us understand what happened and how it happened—but also vital new information and research, including a brilliant dissection of the Republican propaganda mill’s octopus-like network and its role in the neoconservative ascent to power. As Lapham writes in the book’s preface, “these essays describe a march of folly, establish a record of moral incompetence and criminal intent, speak to the character of a government stupefied by its worship of money and blinded by its belief in miracles.”

Elegant and erudite, Pretensions to Empire is a “rousing” indictment of a stumbling political regime from the “loquacious lion of the literary left” (Mother Jones).


“Intelligent insight . . . for those who are tired of the endless Clint Eastwood–speak emanating from the White House.”
Los Angeles Times

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