- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 29, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143034790
- ISBN-13: 978-0143034797
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 87 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#68,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #58 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Diplomacy
- #114 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Political Economy
- #160 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > International Relations
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire Reprint Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"The United States today is an empirebut a peculiar kind of empire," writes Niall Ferguson. Despite overwhelming military, economic, and cultural dominance, America has had a difficult time imposing its will on other nations, mostly because the country is uncomfortable with imperialism and thus unable to use this power most effectively and decisively. The origin of this attitude and its persistence is a principal theme of this thought-provoking book, including how domestic politics affects foreign policy, whether it is politicians worried about the next election or citizens who "like Social Security more than national security." Ferguson, a British historian, has no objection to an American empire, as long as it is a liberal one actively underwriting the free exchange of goods, labor, and capital. Further, he writes that "empire is more necessary in the twenty-first century than ever before" as a means to "contain epidemics, depose tyrants, end local wars and eradicate terrorist organizations." The sooner America embraces this role and acts on it confidently, the better. Ferguson contrasts this persistent anti-imperialistic urge with the attitude held by the British Empire and suggests that America has much to learn from that model if it is to achieve its stated foreign policy objectives of spreading social freedom, democracy, development, and the free market to the world. He suggests that the U.S. must be willing to send money, civilians, and troops for a sustained period of time to troubled spots if there is to be real changeas in Japan and Germany after World War II--an idea that many American citizens and leaders now find repulsive. Rather than devoting limited resources and striving to get complex jobs done in a rush, Americans must be willing to integrate themselves into a foreign culture until a full Americanization has occurred, he writes. Overall, a trenchant examination of a uniquely American dilemma and its implications for the rest of the world. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Criticism of the U.S. government's imperialist tendencies has become nearly ubiquitous since the invasion of Iraq began nearly a year ago, but Ferguson would like America to embrace its imperial character. Just as in his previous book, Empire, he argued that the British Empire had done much good, he now suggests that "many parts of the world would benefit from a period of American rule," as stability and a lack of corruption that could be brought by liberal imperial government would result in capital investment and growth. Similarly, he says, the British Empire acted as "an engine for the integration of international capital markets." The problems nations like India faced after the British left, he continues, could have been ameliorated if the colonization had been more comprehensive, more securely establishing the types of institutions that foster long-term prosperity. The primary shortcoming of America's approach to empire, Ferguson believes, is that it prefers in-and-out military flourishes to staying in for the long haul. His criticism of Americans as a people who "like social security more than they like national security" and refuse to confront impending economic disaster are withering, but he also has sharp comments for those who imagine a unified Europe rising up to confront America and for the way France tried to block the Iraqi invasion. The erudite and often statistical argument has occasional flashes of wit and may compel liberals to rethink their opposition to intervention, even as it castigates conservatives for their lackluster commitment to nation building.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Ferguson, though generally considered a Conservative in today's vernacular is really a 19th century liberal, not far from what we call a Neo-Con. As such he is unapologetic about America's potential role as a benevolent hegemon and in this book goes into considerable detail describing American and world attitudes, the history of 19th century liberal imperialism and argues persuasively the US should do more, rather than less of this, regardless of the cost.
Though clearly more on the side of the US Conservatives, Ferguson's view is actually a third way...combining some of the idealism of modern liberalism with the pragmatic self-interest of economic conservatives and dismissing entirely the social warriors of both sides. In other words alternatively furiating and enjoyable whichever side you are "on". I expect both sides will also manage to co-opt his arguments to their advantage...
But what makes his book extremely interesting is the historical context he uses. Ferguson goes over so many of the U.S. large wars and tiny wars over the last 150 years. He also draws many parallels to the British empire -- and shows how a great deal of their forays were not successful (both in terms of British and the colony's interest).
The examples that most stared at me were the Philippines and Egypt -- where he draws parallels to Iraq.
The first example is one that is often used. America "liberated" the Philippines in the Spanish-American War and lost about 1000 lives conquering it (which was a very small amount for that day). However, people in the Philippines were not content to just shake off one master and get a new one. Over the next decade America lost another 4000 lives due to rebel activities on the islands. The war and conquest, which in the beginning was extremely popular, became increasingly less so over time. So much so that successive Presidents were trying to find a way out ... and fast.
Egypt is an example I have not yet heard. The British effectively took over Egypt in 1882 when the country's pro-British ruler was overthrown. And though the British claimed on countless occasions that it wanted to leave Egypt as soon as possible, it was still ruling the country for the next 74 years. In fact, in 1956, the year the British did leave (and only because the national purse could not afford it), the British still had over 80,000 troops on its Egyptian base -- which was a tract of land near the canal that was the size of Massachusetts!
We learn from these examples that our transformation of Iraq is going to be enormously difficult and costly. If odds makers were making bets (and some surely are), the odds would definitely be against us succeeding. And Ferguson weaves in Americas huge debts (see Running On Empty by Pete Peterson) of unfunded liabilities to the tune of $45 trillion (!!!) make saving the world an increasingly difficult thing to do.
Like Peterson's book, my outlook after finishing Colossus is one of decided gloom. And gloom is generally not in my character. Though I tend to be an eternal optimist and believe the world is becoming an increasingly better place, it is difficult to not see the enormous challenges that lay ahead of my generation.
Summation: Colossus is a academic book, but very much worth reading. I'd like to leave you one of Ferguson's key quotes from the book:
"there are three fundamental deficits that together explain why the United States has been a less effective empire than its British predecessor. They are its economic deficit, its manpower deficit and -- the most serious of the three -- its attention deficit."