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The Decline of American Power: The U.S. in a Chaotic World Paperback – August 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Wallerstein’s thought] provides a new framework for the subject of European history . . . it is compelling, a new explanation, a new classification, indeed a revolutionary one, of received knowledge and current thought." —Fernand Braudel

"Lucid, informed, and insightful." —The New York Times

About the Author

Immanuel Wallerstein is a senior research scholar in the department of sociology at Yale University and director emeritus of the Fernand Braudel Center at Binghamton University. He is also a resident researcher at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris. His many books include The Modern World-System and Historical Capitalism. The New Press has published After Liberalism, The Decline of American Power, and a collection of his works, The Essential Wallerstein. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut, and Paris, France.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; Edition Unstated edition (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565847997
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565847996
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,119,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Wright on November 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Immanuel Wallerstein has some very important things to say in this book, and his thesis (shared by several authors of other new books): that America is a country in a state of very serious decline, dating back to the early 1970's, is certainly plausible given an examination of the existing economic statistics.
Mr. Wallerstein is at his best in the first and last parts of his book, where he speaks in clear, straightforward language, and offers us the insight of someone who has clearly read widely in history, politics and the economy. His analysis of the contrasting spending habits of Japan and the United States (pg. 26), with a powerful illustration to explain it, and the ramifications for the two countries' futures, is a fabulous insight that kept me reading, and looking for more keen observations.
Unfortunately, Mr. Wallerstein's writing, throughout most of the rest of the book, suffers from an all-too-common handicap among researchers and professors: leaden, often indecipherable, academic prose.
Here's an illustrative example from page 107: "The capitalist world-economy is a historical system that has combined an axial division of labor integrated through a less than perfectly autonomous world-market combined with an interstate system composed of allegedly sovereign states, a geoculture that has legitimated a scientific ethos as the underpinnings of economic transformations and profit making, and liberal reformism as a mode of containing popular discontent with the steadily increasing socioeconomic polarization that capitalist development has entailed.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Wallerstein is a Senior Research Scholar at Yale University. He analyses the absolute decline of the capitalist world-economy, from its genesis in 1450 through its development to its current `period of terminal crisis'. We now endure economic stagnation, political instability and social pathologies.

He points out that there is no escape from class struggle, internally between those for and those against a more democratic and egalitarian society, externally between those defending nations' sovereignty and those upholding the imperial `right to intervene'.

He has some dazzling insights - "The idea that leaders sell out, just like the idea that the masses are falsely conscious, seems to me analytically sterile and politically disabling." But there are weaknesses too, as when he focuses on the `left' and on `anti-systemic movements', rather than on the mass, on the necessity for every country to develop workers' nationalism, to control speculative flows of capital and labour.

Workers are the immense majority in the world. Migration from rural areas into labour markets has enabled capitalists to relocate, particularly to China. But the world is running out of new sources of cheap labour, and within a generation the new workers learn how to organise for better wages. So wage levels are rising as a percentage of production costs, averaged across the world. Also, taxes to pay for health, education and welfare are rising. Higher wages and taxes squeeze global profits, threatening capitalists' ability to accumulate capital, especially from industrial production.

So the USA is a colossus with feet of clay. Its economy is faltering, and it cannot use its military muscle to shape the world the way it wants.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. Okorie on March 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. It chronicles several historical events that suggests american power weekening because of its militarist (military industrial complex). I bought this book for a class in college. it was interested to get a different view of world events and american exploits abroad.
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By Thomas Nickles on May 15, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good book at a good price!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am angry--I really wanted to buy and read this book, but a price of $50 for 160 pages is beneath contempt. The author is being abused by the publisher and I urge the author to consider a new publisher for the paperback, or demanding that the paperback be published immediately. Barnes and Noble has been shut down by Amazon -- all other publishers appear in intent on staving off their ultimate demise in the face of on demand publishing by gouging the public.

This book in hardcopy should not be sold for more than $25, and in paperback for $16. Please join me in boycotting this publisher, as someone who cares deeply about the dissemination of important knowledge -- which the author clearly offers -- I find this pricing an utter outrage.

Robert Steele
#1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction.

Here are some reasonably priced books that I offer as a substitute--by "top ten" if you will.
Modern Strategy
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
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