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The Frugal Superpower: America's Global Leadership in a Cash-Strapped Era Hardcover – August 10, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


The Observer (UK)</I>, August 8, 2010
“Cool and concise… It isn't often that you see foreign policy, healthcare and pensions discussed in the same breath, but it makes you sit up when you do.”

Financial Times, August 8, 2010
“Mr Mandelbaum has been preaching the gospel of petrol taxes for a long time, and does so persuasively… The author is always reasonable and clear.”
Sunday Times (UK), August 8, 2010
“Mandelbaum is persuasive in defining the structural problems of the American economy, and the consequences.”
Basil & Spice, August 17, 2010
“Mandelbaum writes in... clear, easy-to-comprehend prose. I recommend The Frugal Superpower without reservation and I hope that President Barack Obama and his Cabinet and advisors and Congress will follow the sensible policies advocated by its author.”
Pajamas Media, August 13, 2010
“My friend Michael Mandelbaum has a new book out this month with the timely title and theme The Frugal Superpower. It’s also short, as if Michael were reminding us this is not a good moment to overspend on excess paper in our cash-strapped world. As an advocate of the short book in general (with some obvious exceptions), I call that a win-win.”
Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, September 4, 2010
“Very timely”

Harvard Magazine
“It’s easy to be powerful (if not loved) when rich. But what happens when the chief guarantor of world security becomes less so? The author, of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, sees a more modest U.S. profile, and less imported oil.”
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, December 13, 2010
“In explaining the connection between recent domestic policy developments and U.S. foreign policy, the author provides an uncomplicated foundation for understanding the direct line between politics and economics.”
Washington Diplomat, February, 2011
“The book, released in August 2010, is timely not only because of lingering uncertainties surrounding the supposed economic recovery, but also because of the underlying, long-term issues it addresses. Mandelbaum makes a strong, clear case that America’s unrestrained foreign policy will crack under the weight of crippling deficits — fueled by the huge costs of the financial crash and the nation’s entitlement programs.”
Modern Judaism, February, 2011
“An excellent…account of a country whose historic poverty, exacerbated by the Vietnam War, remains remarkably unchanged.”

Vingtieme Siecle
, January 20, 2011
“This concise and elegant history of ‘Commentary’ is a good introduction for those looking to understand the influence and role of the monthly in the intellectual wars of the post-WWII United States.”
Domestic Fuel, February 15, 2011
“This book offers the best case I have ever seen that oil is a major risk to American security and presents it in a way that a true politician, worried about foreign relations, cannot deny why our country needs to move to renewable energy.”

CHOICE, April 2011
“Mandelbaum presents a solid argument for a third strategy in ‘a cash-strapped era’--to reduce US oil consumption by imposing a gasoline tax…Highly recommended.”

About the Author

Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy; Director of the American Foreign Policy Program at Johns Hopkins, SAIS. He is a former faculty member at Harvard University, Columbia University and the U.S. Naval Academy; his Ph.D. in political science came from Harvard University.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158648916X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586489168
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #635,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. and is the director of the American Foreign Policy Program there. He has also held teaching posts at Harvard and Columbia Universities, and at the United States Naval Academy.

His most recent book, written with co-author Thomas L. Friedman, is THAT USED TO BE US: HOW AMERICA FELL BEHIND IN THE WORLD IT INVENTED AND HOW WE CAN COME BACK. Its publication date is September 5, 2011.

He serves on the board of advisors of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington-based organization sponsoring research and public discussion on American policy toward the Middle East.

A graduate of Yale College, Professor Mandelbaum earned his Master's degree at King's College, Cambridge University and his doctorate at Harvard University.

Professor Mandelbaum is the author or co-author of numerous articles and of 13 books: That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back (2011) with co-author Thomas L. Friedman; The Frugal Superpower: America's Global Leadership in a Cash-Strapped Era (2010); Democracy's Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World's Most Popular Form of Government (2007); The Case For Goliath: How America Acts As The World's Government in the Twenty-first Century (2006); The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Football and Basketball and What They See When They Do (2004); The Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy and Free Markets in the Twenty-First Century (2002); The Dawn of Peace in Europe (1996); The Fate of Nations: The Search for National Security in the 19th and 20th Centuries (1988); The Global Rivals, (co-author, 1988); Reagan and Gorbachev (co-author, 1987); The Nuclear Future (1983); The Nuclear Revolution: International Politics Before and After Hiroshima (1981); and The Nuclear Question: The United States and Nuclear Weapons, 1946-1976 (1979). He is also the editor of twelve books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hussain Abdul-Hussain on December 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Frugal Superpower argues that because of an "entitlement overstretch," America will not be able to conduct a foreign policy with unlimited funds, like in the past. Instead, the United States will have to become more selective in its overseas operations.

In this easy-to-read entertaining book of political economy, Mandelbaum skillfully sketches the most probable scenario, post-American superpower. Before doing so, he traces the modern history of the American power.
Mandelbaum argues that the Cold War forced America to construct a network with world reach to counter Soviet power. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, the US did not scale back its power and rather maintained its expensive and powerful reach.

The author also argues that the globally unmatched American excess power might have lured America's presidents, Clinton and Bush, and made them commit foreign policy errors. He writes that after the Cold War, America fought more wars than it had during the Cold War. While the last of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq showed America's unmatched military superiority, these two wars - coupled with incompetent post war planning and occupation - are still taking their toll on the nation's finances and world standing.

Mandelbaum writes about an inevitable American spending overstretch that will force Washington to make hard choices. To meet the expenses of the entitlements of its aging and retiring population, the United States will most probably cut expenditures in other areas, mainly overseas.

While America's inevitable economic hardships are a valid point, Mandelbaum's reasons might not be enough to explain them. True the "entitlement overstretch" will burden the US economy.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert S Rosemurgy on November 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The economic and military power of the United States will diminish due to less consumption of market products and less available spending, primarily because of other demands, like Medicare, Social Security and other priorities. To the author, this is not a good result. He argues that the US properly acted as the world's policeman since the end of WWII, but that it can no longer afford to do so. He states, in general terms, that the US did so out of the best and most altruistic of motives, and generally ignores the covert activities of the CIA and US in Central and South America and elsewhere, as well as Vietnam and other major involvements that involved one consideration, the perceived interest of the US. There is no reference to the possibility that being unable to undertake the long wars of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan will be beneficial to both the US and the world. There is no explanation of why Japan, South Korea, Germany, Spain and other countries can not maintain their own defense and protect their own interests. He suggests that the world will miss our dominance and provision of "governance to the rest of the world." The "blunder" of Iraq was the execution of our occupation, not the "preventative" invasion itself. He is critical of the growing intolerance for state building, such as in Afghanistan. His analogy to the Peltzman Effect is bizarre. He notes a lesser US may require more cooperation among allies, presumably missing the unilateralism W used for Iraq. His strongest point is that the US could stabilize the Middle East by non-military action, simply by raising its fuel tax to reduce consumption. This, he argues, would reduce the power of Iran and help stabilize the area. Imagine, the US can still lead and influence matters by diplomacy and other non-military actions.Read more ›
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Allis Radosh on August 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Once I started reading The Frugal Superpower, I couldn't put it down. Written simply and elegantly, Michael Mandelbaum takes on the crucial question-what will America's role in the world be in an era of diminishing resources? It portends to be a more dangerous world and all of our "friends" may be less than happy when they don't have America to complain about. They may even have to pay for their own defense! The author has some interesting solutions. Anyone interested in the future of the world as we know it should definitely read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Geopolitico on December 23, 2010
Format: Audible Audio Edition
This is an outstanding work of the first order that is both vitally insightful and very timely. Michael Mandelbaum's unique abilities include tying together multiple relevant factors and providing the reader with a wonderfully clear explanation of how our situation developed and, more importantly, what it means for all of us now and in the future.

The unpredictable volatility that permeates the world economy and the related geopolitical situation are less frightening once you have followed Michael Mandelbaum through his history of our current predicament and our choices going forward.

This fascinating book is a both a joy to read and to contemplate. The author has range and depth that permeates the variety of levels evident in this fine work. While certain observations might strike some as self-evident, they are analogous to the Newton's observations on gravity which where clear only once a great mind had provided the basis for understanding. By providing us with that understanding, Professor Mandelbaum gives the reader the basis to study and consider critical questions for our time.

The intellectual rigor that Dr. Mandelbaum displays in his timely and insightful work is without parallel. Surprisingly for a work of such force, it should be highly readable and easily approachable for a range of individuals. Having read the book, I am now acquiring the audio version so I can hear Dr. Mandelbaum's cogent analysis again.
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