A bestseller in Europe, this provocative but erratic manifesto stands Euro-anxiety about American hegemony on its head. French demographer Todd (The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere) cites Paul Kennedy's theory of imperial overstretch and Michael Lind's notion of the American overclass to paint America as a "predatory" but weakening empire, its unilateralism and militarism a sign of frailty, not strength. Misguided free trade policies, he contends, have hollowed out America's industrial base and decimated its working and middle classes, polarizing the country into a society of plutocrats and plebeians. Dependent on imports, America has degenerated into a parasitic, Keynesian consumer-of-last-resort, injecting demand into the world economy while producing nothing of value. To mask its decline, America pursues a foreign policy of "theatrical micromilitarism," picking fights with helpless Third World countries like Iraq to convince the world's real power centers-Europe, Japan and Russia-of its military prowess and validate its spurious image as global policeman. Written in a witty polemical style, Todd's grand but cursory arguments range across economics, military history and geopolitics in ways that might make specialists cringe. Particularly reductionist is his demographic and anthropological view of political science, in which birth and literacy rates and peasant family structures are virtually the sole determinants of a society's politics (but, it should be noted, he used declining birth rates in the Soviet Union to predict its downfall). Todd's eccentric views-on the American trade deficit, the racial attitudes of "the Anglo-Saxon mind," the prevalence of marriages between cousins in Islamic countries, the "castrating" feminism of American women-pull in too many directions to be classified as right or left. His characterization of the United States may hold more than a grain of truth, but some readers might bristle before they see it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Todd, a researcher at the French National Institute for Demographic Studies, has authored numerous books, one of which (The Final Fall, 1979) predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union well before it came to pass. Now he has written what may be the most important work since Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man (1992), positing that the U.S., despite its apparent position as the unipolar power of the planet, is overextended--our trade deficit is currently $500 billion per year, which means that the rest of the world is financing our consumerism. Todd is above all a demographer, and he bases much of his opinion on statistical elements--declining birth rates in the Soviet Union first cued him in to the country's approaching doom. So he notes some disturbing American phenomena, such as rising stratification based on educational credentials, and the "obsolescence of unreformable political institutions." In the end, he believes the U.S. should return to its nineteenth-century civilian, republican roots, and that Europe should follow that impulse. Already a best-seller in Europe, this book is destined to be much talked about and analyzed. Allen Weakland
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Excellent book. This will piss off any American at first glance, but read on, think and consider! Todd makes sone startling points about the U.S. and it's future. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Lab owner
An excellent book that makes a lot of very interesting and I think valid points about America's current state of affairs. Read morePublished 11 months ago by D. Fleming
I found Emmanuel Todd to be a very interesting thinker and his work, "After Empire," to be refreshing and engaging. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Agam Bellum
The book is written back in 2002, but I have to give the author credit for his description. Read more
not finished reading-- author has an agenda to sell. He must have not live in the world I live were you have sell your skills-deliver your skills correctly- and then collect your... Read morePublished on December 19, 2012 by Delbert Lee Spiegel
Todd published the French version of this book in 2002. Nine years later most of what he described then has not only been confirmed by facts, but the pace of transformation (public... Read morePublished on February 4, 2011 by cyberprimate
Brilliant and unusually farsighted. The review calls this book "erratic". There is nothing erratic in this book for anyone able to keep more than two thoughts in their mind at the... Read morePublished on March 21, 2010 by spiral1
Todd offers valid analysis and provides sound arguments in this book. While one cannot deny that some thoughts expressed are clearly of an ideological nature, it pays to remember... Read morePublished on November 16, 2008 by Soeren H. Huba
This book, though the author is a respected scholar, seems to be guided by the two golden rules of journalism: 1) Over-simplify; and then, 2) Exaggerate. Read morePublished on November 7, 2008 by Dr. Milo Jones