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Colossus: The Price of America's Empire Hardcover – April 22, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
Overall evaluation: The fact that I give this book a "five star" rating should not imply that agree with it entirely. Ferguson sets forth several main theses, with which I agree entirely, and along the way makes numerous judgments on ancillary issues, several with which I disagree. I am a specialist in Middle East affairs, and I think Ferguson's understanding of the region is basically sound and much better than most who write about these things. I disagree with a few factual evaluations, but I only noticed one blatant factual error: the Abu Nidal Organization (formed in 1973) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (formed in 1967) did not arise in the 1980s with Hizbullah and Hamas, and furthermore they were (the ANO doesn't exist now) and are not Islamist or identified with Islam in any significant way (as misstated on pages 123-124).
This book is valuable and worth reading for two reasons.Read more ›
Ferguson is convinced that empires can only be understood comparatively-by comparing one with another-and against the alternative of anarchy. This brings a welcome realism to the discussion of how empires should and shouldn't behave. His interest in empire is not merely academic. He confesses in his epilogue what his book theorizes throughout: 'I believe the world needs an effective liberal empire and that the United States is the best candidate for the job'.
The author believes that America has always been an empire but is afflicted with the peculiar need to deny this fact. Popular criticism considers empire a bad thing, but because Ferguson insists that we take seriously what has happened in the absence of empire, he stands apart from those whose reflex is to equate empire with oppression and the unjust imposition of alien structures. Ferguson wishes that America would get over its denial complex and get on with being a productive empire in a world that, more often than not, simply needs that.
In 'The Limits of the American Empire' (ch. 1, pp. 33-60), Ferguson shows that Americans thought, spoke, and wrote in imperial terms from the moment of their secession from the British Empire. Often this was articulated in stark contrast to their self-identity as the anti-empire.Read more ›
This book, however, does not prove his case. Ferguson writes very well and marshals an amazing array of facts to support some of his points, but he still fails to support the general task he assigns to "Colossus". For all the power of his prose and the flash of his facts, they merely gloss over crucial points in his analysis. This is true from the start, where Ferguson does not so much define "empire", as he does un-define it by giving the widely-used term so broad a meaning as to basically stand for any great power. He complains that some would use the word so narrowly that the U.S. would be excluded from the category, but he does not appreciate the opposite possibility: that the term can be defined so widely as to catch some ridiculous examples under its rubric, along with the U.S. By Ferguson's vague notion of the word, present-day Germany could be considered an empire along with the present-day United States.
But the weakest section of the book is its holding up of Imperial Britain as a model for the United States in the twenty-first century. Ferguson seems lost in a time warp here (and I speak both as a supporter of a strong U.S. foreign policy and an admirer of the British Empire).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A powerfully researched and written argument for the United States to resume its vital role as leader of the West. Read morePublished 4 months ago by boyd conrad
When Tony Blair handed over to Gordon Brown, the Economist ran a very clever cover. It was a full list of all the issues he had tackled as Prime Minister, all his initiatives and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Athan
Stimulating ideas presented with conviction and erudition. Helps to explain the problems of today's world.Published 17 months ago by Tremont59
A bit of a mix of many things... starts out well and then gets in to too many things having nothing to do with the topic.Published 23 months ago by Sabine Atwell
Mr. Ferguson is an interesting author taking, in this case, about where American might be headed wrong.Published 23 months ago by Charles E. Hoover