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The World America Made Hardcover – February 7, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307961311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307961310
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The book makes the case that the nation’s decline is a myth, a reaction to the financial crisis of 2008 rather than to any genuine geopolitical shifts." —The New York Times
"These ideas struck a chord with a President accused of leading a great American retreat."
—Michael Crowley, Time
"Kagan paints with a broad brush, sprinkling a memorable metaphor here, a striking simile there . . . He provides a compelling demonstration that whether it's protecting the sea lanes vital for free trade or nudging societies toward democracy, the world stands a better chance with America in prime position than with China or Russia in the lead." —The New York Times Book Review   

"[Marco] Rubio's foreign-policy views have evidently been recently shaped by a reading of Robert Kagan's The World America Made, a much-discussed refutation of the now-popular notion of American decline. As a Romney advisor who has penned bedside reading for President Barack Obama, Kagan could plausibly claim to be the most prominently cited writer in Washington right now." —Foreign Policy Magazine

"Intelligent, cogent, and timely." —Publishers Weekly

"At once a robust defence of the role America plays in world affairs and a determined rejection of the 'myth' that America is in decline." —Financial Times

"Serious, scholarly . . . [These are] ideas expressed clearly and consicely." —David Ignatius, Washington Post Writers Group  

"An extended and convincing argument against the thesis that there is anything inevitable about American decline." — Max Boot, Commentary 
"The foreign policy blueprint for the next Republican president." —Senator Marco Rubio
"Kagan grabs the reader’s attention from page one . . . He makes a powerful point: If America were to make a serious effort to disengage in world affairs, the world quickly would devolve into a much more scary and dangerous place . . . If you have time to read just one book, I suggest Kagan’s."  —Major General Perry Smith

"Magisterial . . . It's a small book, it's a great book."  —Bill Bennett
"Very important . . . A wonderful book."  —Hugh Hewitt
"A must-read."  —Lou Dobbs

About the Author

Robert Kagan is senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a columnist for The Washington Post. He is also the author of The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Dangerous Nation, Of Paradise and Power, and A Twilight Struggle. Kagan served in the U.S. State Department from 1984 to 1988. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

Very insightful and easy to read!
To argue against inevitable U.S. decline Kagan assesses the present situation of the United States and defines it in a different way from most other commentators.
Shalom Freedman
Read this book if you want to know more about the future of U.S. foreign policy.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Kagan's major argument is that all the talk of American decline shows little knowledge and perspective in regard to the various historical situations and realities the United States has been through. `Decline' as he sees it is not an inevitability but a choice and one great danger is that accepting the conventional wisdom regarding America's alleged decline will help promote it.
To argue against inevitable U.S. decline Kagan assesses the present situation of the United States and defines it in a different way from most other commentators. He maintains that the United States still has one- quarter of the world`s GDP- the same figure that it has had over the past three decades. The single great unusual point was after World War Two where it had fifty percent of the world product. Kagan notes that the U.S decline is often compared with the British Empire decline though late nineteeth and early twentieth century Britain had a rapid fall in share of global GDP of a kind the U.S. has never known.
On the military front Kagan argues that the U.S. remains far superior to any potential rival. He notes that it ,contrary to common opinion, has a far smaller percentage of its population serving overseas than it did in the sixties and seventies. He points out that the U.S. has a far superior array of military technologies than any potential rival. This military superiority is vital to the U.S. being the key provider in a more secure and prosperous world. i.e. Kagan's argument is not only that U.S. power is not in decline, it is that U.S. power is beneficial to the peoples of the world, and in fact makes the world- system operate in a far better way than it would were any other power to be its leader. In this Kagan clearly suggests that those who preach U.S.
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37 of 53 people found the following review helpful By William Whipple III VINE VOICE on February 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some people think the United States spends far too much on its armed forces out of a misguided desire to be the world's policeman. Spend half as much, eliminate most of the foreign bases, bring our troops home. And guess what - other nations will pick up the slack and life will go on. Meanwhile, we can do some "nation building" in this country.

This book by a senior analyst at the Brookings Institution paints a different picture. In Robert Kagan's view, US preeminence since the breakup of the USSR has been a good thing for both our country and the world. Among the benefits: continued freedom from major wars, a trend towards democratic governments, and relatively free trade that contributes to global prosperity.

The idea that the US has already begun a decline is mistaken, says the author, and stem from two misperceptions. Aside from the situation immediately after World War II, the US never enjoyed as much power as some people now "remember." Also, recent disappointment with results of the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan and economic reverses have skewed perceptions of the longer-term situation. This country has encountered many setbacks over the years, as in the 1970s with the end of the War in Vietnam and the oil crisis, and come back stronger than ever.

Let there be no mistake, moreover, that the US could reduce its military forces and foster a multi-polar world without adverse consequences. History shows that any world order depends on the existence and if necessary use of military power; the leading nations will not voluntarily subordinate their ambitions to someone else's notion of the greater good. Likely results of US decline would be less democracy in the world, more barriers to trade, and far more risk of major wars.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Todd Bartholomew TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A popular trope amongst authors is the "what if" scenario; a chance to speculate about a major shift in the world we know and what changes would come to pass as a result. While that seems a bit whimsical or silly "The World America Made" is anything but. Instead it is a speculative look at what the world would be like if America were to again become isolationist and retrench from the world's stage to focus on resolving our own domestic problems. More broadly Kagan looks at the question of whether America is genuinely in decline or if this is an echo of past fretting about America's perception that it is diminished in a globalized world. "The World America Made" is by turns intriguing, frustrating, frightening, and disturbing, pointing to how essential America's role in the modern world has been and can continue to be. Kagan wants to give readers a vision of what the world would be like without America as the sole remaining superpower and the result is a bit of "A Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life" to use to pop culture touchstones. This already seems to be playing out in parts of the world and is likely something that would accelerate as America withdraws from the world. Indeed, the future without America that Kagan views is a return to numerous small scale wars amongst rising nations jockeying for their position in the vacuum created by the USA withdrawing, something not necessarily too far fetched, but not an appetizing view of the future. I found myself thinking of the negativity "Economic Imperialism" carries with it, yet the reality is that globalism by any other name still created new dynamic markets that spurred competition, albeit with unfortunate consequences.Read more ›
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