Publisher: Overflow
Imprint: Overflow
Title: Empire of Humiliation
Author: James Jens Brusseau
ISBN-10: 0980056780
ISBN-13: 9780980056785
Pages: 332
Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.1 lb
Colophon and identifying elements©

The Characters

  • What does Marina find attractive about Anderson? In the end, does she care about him?
  • Anderson at the end, does he begin a new life? Is it possible to really start over?
  • Is Name’s life noble? Distinguished, intelligent, misguided, criminal, horrid, insane? What should his gravestone read? If you had to read his eulogy, what would you say?
  • If Name, Anderson and Marina were your three children, would you be proud of any of them? Ashamed? Something else?
  • From the book:

"If Name had understood Marina, he’d have said she lacked principles. For her part, she’d probably say that she didn’t need them. Basically, the two are so different it’s hard to believe they live in the same world. Maybe they don’t."


      What does that last line “Maybe they don’t” mean?

The place

  • What do you think of Mexico City: would you like to live there with a maid and everything? Maybe only for a short while?
  • Bribes are rampant in Mexico, is there similar corruption in the US or Europe?
  • If you’re an American, when you go abroad, do you try to identify yourself as American? Or try not to?



  • Is the life of the prostitute humiliating, or is it just a different version of what we all do for a living? If it is humiliating, how is it similar to the humiliation Name has in mind for Mexico?
  • When was the last time you felt humiliated at work, or by a neighbor, or a friend or lover? Did they gain something? (Or: When was the last time you humiliated someone else? Did you gain something?)
  • Do you think the idea of thoroughly controlling others through humiliation is true? Could it actually work on an international scale? Does the reasoning presented in the chapter “Suspecting an Imperialism” (pages 85-86) make sense?

Empire and Imperialism

  • What are Name’s motives for imperialism? Are there good imperialists and bad ones?
  • Does the history of empire repeat as Marina thinks, maybe a little different every time but generally the same?


Nations and Postnationalism

  • Is Marina a Postnationalist? Why, and what does that word mean, anyway? Is it a good way to live? Is that way of living more possible today than before? Why?In the 1920s Gertrude Stein said America is the world’s oldest nation (because it has the oldest founding constitution) and also the youngest? Is America still a young nation?
  • Is there an authentic Mexican identity, or an American identity? Does it change with time? If it’s lost, where do you go to get it back?
  • Do you think some foreigners are really like Luis, the Jornada reporter, completely driven by resentment?



  • What is the connection between religion and empire in the book? Is religion an imperialist instrument? Is the Church an empire too?



  • Is this book in favor of the United States or against it? The author is an American. Do you imagine him as Republican? A Democrat? Something else?
  • What would the candidates in this year’s presidential election say about this book?


The Plot

  • Name says that Anderson must publicize the journal about empire. Did Anderson do that? The book Empire of Humiliation, what is it really about?
  • Were you surprised by the book’s ending? Did you see it coming? Was it a god ending? If you had to write the last few chapters yourself, would you write them differently?
  • How does the book’s cover relate to the plot?


The Literature

  • The author is an academic scholar of theoretical nonfiction books, did that past influence the way he wrote?
  • Do you think it would make a good movie, or not so good? How do you imagine it? What changes would you need to make with the book to reform it for the screen?

Reading Group Discussion Possibilities