Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His sixth and latest book, just published, is A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books).
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My Life With Maus

Sometimes life has a way of making you realize things about yourself. Recently, I discovered that an urge of mine, almost four decades old, had been the very opposite of that of a rural Tennessee school board this January. In another life, I played a role in what could be thought of as the unbanning of the graphic novel “Maus.” For months, I’ve been reading about the growing... Continue Reading

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Welcome to Our Extreme World

Admittedly, I hadn’t been there for 46 years, but old friends of mine still live (or at least lived) in the town of Greenville, California, and now, well, it’s more or less gone, though they survived. The Dixie Fire, one of those devastating West Coast blazes, had already “blackened” 504 square miles of Northern California in what was still essentially the (old) pre-fire season. It... Continue Reading

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What Planet Will Our Children and Grandchildren Inherit?

Let me start with my friend and the boat. Admittedly, they might not seem to have anything to do with each other. The boat, a guided-missile destroyer named the USS Curtis Wilbur, reportedly passed through the Straits of Taiwan and into the South China Sea, skirting the Paracel Islands that China has claimed as its own. It represented yet... Continue Reading

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Has the US Always Been at War?

Here’s the strange thing in an ever-stranger world: I was born in July 1944 in the midst of a devastating world war. That war ended in August 1945 with the atomic obliteration of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by the most devastating bombs in history up to that moment, given the sweet code names “Little Boy” and “Fat Man.” I was the littlest of boys at the... Continue Reading

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The Sports Pages of Death

Here’s one of the things I now do every morning. I go to the online Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and check out the figures there — global coronavirus cases and deaths, US coronavirus cases and deaths. And I do so the way that, not so long ago, I would have opened the sports pages and checked out the latest scores of whatever New York team I was rooting for. Where it... Continue Reading

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The American Century Ends Early

Like Gregor Samsa, the never-to-be-forgotten character in Franz Kafka’s story “The Metamorphosis,” we awoke on January 7 to discover that we, too, were “a giant insect” with “a domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments” and numerous “pitifully thin” legs that “waved helplessly” before our eyes. If you prefer, though, you can just say it: We opened our eyes and... Continue Reading

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The Imperial Presidency Comes Home to Roost

US President Joe Biden’s got a problem — and so do I. And so, in fact, do we. At 76 years old, you’d think I’d experienced it all when it comes to this country and its presidencies. Or most of it, anyway. I’ve been around since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. Born on July 20, 1944, I’m a little “young” to remember him, though I was a war baby in an era when Congress still... Continue Reading

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America in the Mid-70s and 2020

It was summer almost half a century ago when I got into that Volkswagen van and began my trip across America with Peter, a photographer friend. I was officially doing so as a reporter for a small San Francisco news service, having been sent out to tap the mood of the nation in a politically fraught moment. The Vietnam War, with all its domestic protests and disturbances, was just ending. North... Continue Reading

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America’s Maestro of Death and Destruction

Yes, when he was running for president, he did indeed say: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's, like, incredible." Then he won — and on November 3 (or thereafter), whether he wins or loses, we’re likely to find out that, when it comes to his base, he was right. He may not have lost a vote. Yes, Donald Trump is... Continue Reading

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American Carnage From a Pandemic President

The year was 1991 and the United States was suddenly the globe’s lone superpower, its ultimate hyperpower, the last and greatest of its kind, the soon-to-be-indispensable nation. The only one left — alone, utterly alone and triumphant atop the world. Who could have asked for more? Or better? It had been a Cold War fantasy of the first order — until that other superpower, the Soviet... Continue Reading

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