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The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Paperback – January 15, 1989
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Warlike rivalries between European states stimulated advances, economic growth and military effectiveness. The Habsburg bid for power was ultimately unsuccessful because other European states worked together, the Habsburgs overextended in repeated conflicts during which they became militarily top heavy upon a weakening economic base. The other European states managed a better balance between wealth creation and military power. The power struggles between 1600 and 1815 were more complicated as Spain and the Netherlands declined while France, Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia rose to dominate diplomacy, and warfare.Read more ›
Great theories and great books are often so because they state, in a convincing way obvious facts that we want to ignore because they are inconvenient or unflattering. Sigmund Freud's Psychopathology of everyday life and "Interpretation of Dreams" shocked the Victorian world by pointing out that a lot of human behavior is about sex. Darwin's "Origin of Species" and "Descent of Man" was a shocker because it pointed out that we are animals, descended from animals. Karl Marx's contribution, shorn of polemics, was to point out the importance of economics in history and ideology.
Kennedy amasses considerable evidence for the unattractive theory that wars are won by economic might (and not because providence is on the side of the "good guys"), that all empires are mortal, and that empires can kill themselves by economic over-extension.
He correctly predicted the economic problems of the Soviet Union, before it was obvious to all, and he predicted the over extension and deficit spending that would could the lot of the US in the future - and are the lot of the US in Iraq. This is not a popular thesis.
Every historian from Thucydides, and Polybius to Gibbon, Toynbee and Spengler has understood that empires are "mortal." Yet every empire and every citizen of every empire insisted that their empire was the "exception" that could never be challenged and never fail. That is what makes many uncomfortable about this book, but it cannot be ignored.Read more ›
Four fifths of the book is good, as it is devoted to the development of Kennedys' theory, which is - economic wealth and military power is relative. Relative in terms of its distribution among nations and relative within a nation over time. Indeed, the U.K. of the 1980's and today,(a second rank power in comparison with the U.S and Japan) is wealthier in absolute terms than the huge British Empire of the late 19th century. The idea that that there is a strong relationship between economic power and military might, which seems obvious, is also illustrated with historical examples. What is less obvious (until shown by the author) are the variations on this theme. For example, an economic power may not also be a military power at the same time (Japan in the 1980's). There is also a tendency for declining economic powers to spend very heavily on the military, as their sense of security decreases (Soviet Union and U.S in the 1980's).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Needed to rate great powers in similar frameworks. The book goes on a broad journey too vast to comprehend why great powers truly failed and uniformly compare their demise. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Kristy A. Massey
It's valuable to read when 30 years passed, because we can know the prediction is difficult in the concrete form.Published 2 months ago by PAX
I read this book when i was 40 years old. I wish i had read it when i was 20, as it would have given me an incredible foundation for understanding the world. Read morePublished 7 months ago by FriendofAbe