Humans must have government. If they do not have it, they will create it. But what kind In Volume I of the Imperial Stars series best-selling author Jerry Pournelle set out to find the answer. His reluctant conclusion: that throughout history, no matter in what form they began, all governments become empires—or are conquered by them. From Babylon, to Persia, to Rome, to the U.S.S.R.: no matter how high the founding ideals, the end is ever tyranny. Or is there possibly one form of government that can withstand the curse of power and yet be strong enough to try conclusions with imperial legions . . . Democracies endure until the citizens care more for what the state can give them than for its ability to defend rich and poor alike; until they care more for their privileges than their responsibilities; until they learn they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury and use the state as an instrument for plundering, first, those who have wealth, then those who create it. The American people seem to be learning that fatal lesson. The last forty years have seen the United States reject the temptations of empire, but nearly succumb to the seductions of democracy. We have reached the abyss, but not yet taken the last step over it. The survival of freedom itself is at stake; and that future is by no means certain.