Synopses & Reviews
In a little over two centuries, America has grown from a regional power to a superpower, and to what is today called a hyperpower. But can America retain its position as the worlds dominant power, or has it already begun to decline?
Historians have debated the rise and fall of empires for centuries. To date, however, no one has studied the far rarer phenomenon of hyperpowers—those few societies that amassed such extraordinary military and economic might that they essentially dominated the world.
Now, in this sweeping history of globally dominant empires, bestselling author Amy Chua explains how hyperpowers rise and why they fall. In a series of brilliantly focused chapters, Chua examines historys hyperpowers—Persia, Rome, Tang China, the Mongols, the Dutch, the British, and the United States—and reveals the reasons behind their success, as well as the roots of their ultimate demise.
Chuas unprecedented study reveals a fascinating historical pattern. For all their differences, she argues, every one of these world-dominant powers was, at least by the standards of its time, extraordinarily pluralistic and tolerant. Each one succeeded by harnessing the skills and energies of individuals from very different backgrounds, and by attracting and exploiting highly talented groups that were excluded in other societies. Thus Rome allowed Africans, Spaniards, and Gauls alike to rise to the highest echelons of power, while the “barbarian” Mongols conquered their vast domains only because they practiced an ethnic and religious tolerance unheard of in their time. In contrast,
Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, while wielding great power, failed to attain global dominance as a direct result of their racial and religious intolerance.
But Chua also uncovers a great historical irony: in virtually every instance, multicultural tolerance eventually sowed the seeds of decline, and diversity became a liability, triggering conflict, hatred, and violence.
The United States is the quintessential example of a power that rose to global dominance through tolerance and diversity. The secret to Americas success has always been its unsurpassed ability to attract enterprising immigrants. Today, however, concerns about outsourcing and uncontrolled illegal immigration are producing a backlash against our tradition of cultural openness. Has America finally reached a “tipping point”? Have we gone too far in the direction of diversity and tolerance to maintain cohesion and unity? Will we be overtaken by rising powers like China, the EU or even India?
Chua shows why American power may have already exceeded its limits and why it may be in our interest to retreat from our go-it-alone approach and promote a new multilateralism in both domestic and foreign affairs.
"Chua (World on Fire), a Yale law professor and daughter of immigrants, examines a number of 'world-dominant' powers a none too rigorously defined group that lumps together the Persian, Roman, Mongol and British empires with the contemporary United States and argues that tolerance and multiculturalism are indispensable features of global economic and military success. Such 'hyperpowers' rise, Chua argues, because their tolerance of minority cultures and religions, their receptivity to foreign ideas and their willingness to absorb and empower talented provincials and immigrants lets them harness the world's 'human capital.' Conversely, hyperpowers decline when their assimilative capacities falter and they lapse into intolerance and exclusion. The sexy concept of a world-dominant hyperpower, in addition to being somewhat erratic the smallish Dutch Republic makes the cut, while the far-flung (but inconveniently intolerant) Spanish empire doesn't is doubtful when examining an America that can hardly dominate Baghdad and not much more convincing when applied to earlier hegemons. Chua does offer an illuminating survey of the benefits of tolerance and pluralism, often as a tacit brief for maintaining America's generous immigration policies." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Bestselling author Amy Chua examines historys hyperpowers--Persia, Rome, China, the Mongols, the Dutch, the British, and the United States--and reveals the reasons behind their success and the roots of their ultimate demise.
About the Author
AMY CHUA is the John Duff Jr. Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She is the author of World on Fire and is a noted expert in the fields of international business, ethnic conflict, and globalization. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with her husband and two daughters.