An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire

An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire
Image source: Google

Rating: 4.2/5

Author: Arundhati Roy

Publisher: South End Press

Publishing Date: 2004

Language: English

Genre: Non-Fiction

ISBN-10: 0143419315

ISBN-13: 978-0143419310

Format: Paperback

Pages: 328

Cost: Rs. 187 (Paperback), Rs. 267.40 (Kindle edition)


In this collection of speeches and essays, gathered together here for the first time, focusing largely on that intense period leading up to and beyond the UN's attack on Iraq, Arundhati Roy systematically deconstructs the US government's argument for going to war. She brilliantly exposes the gaping errors in their thesis, the hypocrisy and false ideology behind the rhetoric that led to 42% of the American public believing that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Centre, and that a bombed, besieged and starved country such as Iraq was a direct threat to the safety of the mighty USA.


With this book, Arundhati Roy offers us a deep insight on what the Bush administration really means when it talks about ‘compassionate conservativism’ and ‘the war on terror’. Roy has boldly been exposing the hypocrisy of such self-claimed democratic government. But above all, she aims to remind us that we hold the essence of power and the foundation of genuine democracy- the power of the people to counter their self-appointed leaders.

These essays are a call to arms against of what she describes as “the apocalyptic apparatus of the American empire.” Focusing on the disastrous US occupation of Iraq, Roy urges us to recognize and apply- the scope of our power, strongly urging the US dockworkers to refuse to load materials war-bound, reservists to reject their call-ups, activists to organize boycotts of Halliburton, and citizens of other nations to collectively resist being deputized as janitor-soldiers to clear away the detritus of the US invasion.

Roy’s Guide to Empire also offers us sharp theoretical tools for understanding the New American Empire—a dangerous paradigm. Roy argues here, that is entirely distinct from the imperialism of the British or even the New World Order of George Bush, the elder.

She examines how resistance movements build power, using examples of nonviolent organizing in South Africa, India, and the United States. She skilfully draws the thread through the apparent disconnected issues and arenas. Roy pays particular attention to the parallels between globalization in India, the devastation in Iraq, and the deplorable conditions many African Americans, in particular, must still confront.

Roy’s brilliant writing craves for global justice. She writes with absolute passion, clarity and urgency about the subjects dearest to her heart; subjects which must be of the utmost importance to any of us interested in Democracy, Freedom and Justice.

About the Author:

Arundhati Roy was born in 1960 in Kerala, India. She studied architecture at the Delhi School of Architecture and worked as a production designer. She has written two screenplays including Electric Moon (1992) that was commissioned by Channel 4 television.

Her first novel ‘God of small things’ won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997. An immediate bestseller, the novel was published simultaneously in 16 languages and 19 countries but caused controversy in India for the description of a love affair between a Syrian Christian and a Hindu 'untouchable'. She is also the author of several non-fiction books including: The Cost of Living (1999) - a highly critical attack on the Indian government for its handling of the controversial Narmada Valley dam project and for its nuclear testing programme; Power Politics (2001) - a book of essays; and The Algebra of Infinite Justice- a collection of journalism. The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire was published in 2004. She has since published a further collection of essays examining the dark side of democracy in contemporary India ‘Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy’ (2009).

Her latest book is ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ (2017), her second novel. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and, in the US, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. For her work as an activist she received the Cultural Freedom Prize awarded by the Lannan Foundation in 2002.