Colossus : The Rise and Fall of the American Empire

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From the bestselling author of The Ascent of Money and The Square and the Tower 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 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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 139 x 214 x 23mm | 380g
  • The Penguin Press
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0143034790
  • 9780143034797
  • 345,025

Table of contents


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
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Review Text

"Every page of Colossus is provocative."  Ernest May

"Amid the seemingly endless writings and decisions about America as Empire, the most prominent recent voice is that of Niall Ferguson."  Paul Kennedy, New York Review of Books
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Review quote

Every page of Colossus is provocative. --Ernest May

Amid the seemingly endless writings and decisions about 'America as Empire, ' the most prominent recent voice is that of Niall Ferguson. --Paul Kennedy, New York Review of Books
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About Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is one of the world's most renowned historians. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization, The Great Degeneration, Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, and The Square and the Tower. He is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His many awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).
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Rating details

1,877 ratings
3.58 out of 5 stars
5 17% (316)
4 38% (709)
3 34% (632)
2 10% (180)
1 2% (40)
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