From Publishers Weekly
Starobin, staff correspondent for the National Journal
, delivers a meticulously researched and up-to-the-minute analysis of the United States' role in global politics, culture and society. Arguing that the U.S. has reached the end of its tenure as a unipolar superpower, Starobin analyzes the weaknesses in America's political and economic institutions that have led to a widening gap in prosperity (both within its own borders and vis-à-vis other developed nations) and hindered its ability to set the pace of progress. He demonstrates how theories of widespread chaos in a post-American era are constructed, using as an example the fall of Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf, America's key ally against the Taliban in Afghanistan—but he shies away from this model, suggesting how the new world order might be one in which power is assumed by another nation (possibly China) or shared among several (India, Brazil and the E.U.). He also questions the validity of classically defined nation-states in favor of the possibility that economic and social interactions between cross-national regions, powerful city-states or global movements might supersede the relevance of individual nations. The result is a narrative of extraordinary range and contemporary relevance. (June)
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America-in-decline is the premise for National Journal reporter Starobin’s predictions of the future of the international order. He structures his prognostications around several possibilities, such as the notion that China will supplant the U.S. as preeminent world power, and packages opinions about long-term trends with interviews of actors in the emerging conditions—in the Chinese example, with China’s ambassador to Chile, for whose copper China has a great appetite. Starobin’s position throughout is that Americans and American political and economic institutions must prepare to adjust to such scenarios. In case China’s ascendance doesn’t pan out, Starobin proffers multipolarity, global governance, globally oriented city-states, and a “happy” chaos of Internet-empowered individualism as other successor situations to the American Century (an idea that, for readers unfamiliar with it, Starobin recaps, including its outgrowth from American exceptionalism). Crystallizing his vision of America’s future by means of a précis of California’s cosmopolitan present, Starobin argues with clarity and conviction that will resonate with the current-affairs readership. --Gilbert Taylor