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Colossus: The Price of America's Empire

by

Colossus: The Price of America's Empire Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"There is much to admire in Colossus: reasoned historical analysis (showing more knowledge of obscure bits of U.S. imperial history than most Americans possess), firm command of economic statistics, pleasing literary cadences.....Ferguson's central point is important and indisputable — that the United States resembles a global empire far more than most Americans, still living in L. Frank Baum's prelapsarian Kansas, take the time to understand." Ted Widmer, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Is America an empire? Certainly not, according to our government. Despite the conquest of two sovereign states in as many years, despite the presence of more than 750 military installations in two thirds of the world's countries and despite his stated intention "to extend the benefits of freedom...to every corner of the world," George W. Bush maintains that "America has never been an empire." "We don't seek empires," insists Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. "We're not imperialistic."

Nonsense, says Niall Ferguson. In Colossus he argues that in both military and economic terms America is nothing less than the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. Just like the British Empire a century ago, the United States aspires to globalize free markets, the rule of law, and representative government. In theory it's a good project, says Ferguson. Yet Americans shy away from the long-term commitments of manpower and money that are indispensable if rogue regimes and failed states really are to be changed for the better. Ours, he argues, is an empire with an attention deficit disorder, imposing ever more unrealistic timescales on its overseas interventions. Worse, it's an empire in denial — a hyperpower that simply refuses to admit the scale of its global responsibilities. And the negative consequences will be felt at home as well as abroad. In an alarmingly persuasive final chapter Ferguson warns that this chronic myopia also applies to our domestic responsibilities. When overstretch comes, he warns, it will come from within — and it will reveal that more than just the feet of the American colossus is made of clay.

Review:

"Is America ready to rule the world? Probably not. But, argues the author, it had better gear up to the task....Discomfiting, highly provocative reading, with ammunition for pro and con alike." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"The erudite and often statistical argument has occasional flashes of wit and may compel liberals to rethink their opposition to intervention, even as it castigates conservatives for their lackluster commitment to nation building." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Colossus reads, in short, like a series of previously published essays too hastily stitched together....This is unfortunate, because...Ferguson is an accomplished and imaginative scholar. Several of his arguments deserve more careful consideration than they are likely to receive." John Lewis Gaddis, The New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

From renowned historian Niall Ferguson, a searching and provocative examination of the widespread institutional rot that threatens our collective future

What causes rich countries to lose their way? Symptoms of decline are all around us today: slowing growth, crushing debts, increasing inequality, aging populations, antisocial behavior. But what exactly has gone wrong? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues in The Great Degeneration, is that our institutions—the intricate frameworks within which a society can flourish or fail—are degenerating.

Representative government, the free market, the rule of law, and civil society—these are the four pillars of West European and North American societies. It was these institutions, rather than any geographical or climatic advantages, that set the West on the path to global dominance beginning around 1500. In our time, however, these institutions have deteriorated in disturbing ways. Our democracies have broken the contract between the generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are hindered by overcomplex regulations that debilitate the political and economic processes they were created to support; the rule of law has become the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all of our problems to be solved by the state.

It is institutional degeneration, in other words, that lies behind economic stagnation and the geopolitical decline that comes with it. With characteristic verve and historical insight, Ferguson analyzes not only the causes of this stagnation but also its profound consequences.

The Great Degeneration is an incisive indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. While the Arab world struggles to adopt democracy and China struggles to move from economic liberalization to the rule of law, our society is squandering the institutional inheritance of centuries. To arrest the breakdown of our civilization, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.

Synopsis:

Is America an empire? Certainly not, according to our government.and#160;Despite the conquest of two sovereign states in as many years, despite the presence of more than 750 military installations in two thirds of the worldandrsquo;s countries and despite his stated intention "to extend the benefits of freedom...to every corner of the world," George W. Bush maintains that "America has never been an empire." "We donandrsquo;t seek empires," insists Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. "Weandrsquo;re not imperialistic."

Nonsense, says Niall Ferguson. In Colossus he argues that in both military and economic terms America is nothing less than the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. Just like the British Empire a century ago, the United States aspires to globalize free markets, the rule of law, and representative government. In theory itandrsquo;s a good project, says Ferguson. Yet Americans shy away from the long-term commitments of manpower and money that are indispensable if rogue regimes and failed states really are to be changed for the better. Ours, he argues, is an empire with an attention deficit disorder, imposing ever more unrealistic timescales on its overseas interventions. Worse, itandrsquo;s an empire in denialandmdash;a hyperpower that simply refuses to admit the scale of its global responsibilities. And the negative consequences will be felt at home as well as abroad. In an alarmingly persuasive final chapter Ferguson warns that this chronic myopia also applies to our domestic responsibilities. When overstretch comes, he warns, it will come from withinandmdash;and it will reveal that more than just the feet of the American colossus is made of clay.

About the Author

Niall Ferguson is Herzog Professor of Financial History at the Stern Business School, New York University, and Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University. Born in Glasgow in 1964, he graduated with First Class Honors from Magdalen College, Oxford. His previous books include The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild (two volumes, available from Penguin), The Cash Nexus, and Empire. A prolific commentator on contemporary politics, he writes and reviews regularly for the American and British press. He and his family divide their time between New York and Oxfordshire.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Part I—Rise

1. The Limits of the American Empire

2. The Imperialism of Anti-Imperialism

3. The Civilization of Clashes

4. Splendid Multilateralism

Part II—Fall?

5. The Case for Liberal Empire

6. Going Home or Organizing Hypocrisy

7. "Impire": Europe Between Brussels and Byzantium

8. The Closing Door

Conclusion: Looking Homeward

Statistical Appendix

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594200137
Author:
Ferguson, Niall
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Economic Conditions
Subject:
Imperialism
Subject:
International Relations - General
Subject:
Government - U.S. Government
Subject:
Politics-United States Politics
Subject:
Politics-United States Foreign Policy
Subject:
Economic History
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Series Volume:
issue 6
Publication Date:
20040531
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b/w illustrations throughout
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » International Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » US History » 1945 to Present

Colossus: The Price of America's Empire Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Penguin Books - English 9781594200137 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "There is much to admire in Colossus: reasoned historical analysis (showing more knowledge of obscure bits of U.S. imperial history than most Americans possess), firm command of economic statistics, pleasing literary cadences.....Ferguson's central point is important and indisputable — that the United States resembles a global empire far more than most Americans, still living in L. Frank Baum's prelapsarian Kansas, take the time to understand." (read the entire Salon.com review)
"Review" by , "Is America ready to rule the world? Probably not. But, argues the author, it had better gear up to the task....Discomfiting, highly provocative reading, with ammunition for pro and con alike."
"Review" by , "The erudite and often statistical argument has occasional flashes of wit and may compel liberals to rethink their opposition to intervention, even as it castigates conservatives for their lackluster commitment to nation building."
"Review" by , "Colossus reads, in short, like a series of previously published essays too hastily stitched together....This is unfortunate, because...Ferguson is an accomplished and imaginative scholar. Several of his arguments deserve more careful consideration than they are likely to receive."
"Synopsis" by ,
From renowned historian Niall Ferguson, a searching and provocative examination of the widespread institutional rot that threatens our collective future

What causes rich countries to lose their way? Symptoms of decline are all around us today: slowing growth, crushing debts, increasing inequality, aging populations, antisocial behavior. But what exactly has gone wrong? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues in The Great Degeneration, is that our institutions—the intricate frameworks within which a society can flourish or fail—are degenerating.

Representative government, the free market, the rule of law, and civil society—these are the four pillars of West European and North American societies. It was these institutions, rather than any geographical or climatic advantages, that set the West on the path to global dominance beginning around 1500. In our time, however, these institutions have deteriorated in disturbing ways. Our democracies have broken the contract between the generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are hindered by overcomplex regulations that debilitate the political and economic processes they were created to support; the rule of law has become the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all of our problems to be solved by the state.

It is institutional degeneration, in other words, that lies behind economic stagnation and the geopolitical decline that comes with it. With characteristic verve and historical insight, Ferguson analyzes not only the causes of this stagnation but also its profound consequences.

The Great Degeneration is an incisive indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. While the Arab world struggles to adopt democracy and China struggles to move from economic liberalization to the rule of law, our society is squandering the institutional inheritance of centuries. To arrest the breakdown of our civilization, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.

"Synopsis" by ,

Is America an empire? Certainly not, according to our government.and#160;Despite the conquest of two sovereign states in as many years, despite the presence of more than 750 military installations in two thirds of the worldandrsquo;s countries and despite his stated intention "to extend the benefits of freedom...to every corner of the world," George W. Bush maintains that "America has never been an empire." "We donandrsquo;t seek empires," insists Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. "Weandrsquo;re not imperialistic."

Nonsense, says Niall Ferguson. In Colossus he argues that in both military and economic terms America is nothing less than the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. Just like the British Empire a century ago, the United States aspires to globalize free markets, the rule of law, and representative government. In theory itandrsquo;s a good project, says Ferguson. Yet Americans shy away from the long-term commitments of manpower and money that are indispensable if rogue regimes and failed states really are to be changed for the better. Ours, he argues, is an empire with an attention deficit disorder, imposing ever more unrealistic timescales on its overseas interventions. Worse, itandrsquo;s an empire in denialandmdash;a hyperpower that simply refuses to admit the scale of its global responsibilities. And the negative consequences will be felt at home as well as abroad. In an alarmingly persuasive final chapter Ferguson warns that this chronic myopia also applies to our domestic responsibilities. When overstretch comes, he warns, it will come from withinandmdash;and it will reveal that more than just the feet of the American colossus is made of clay.

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