- 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: 88 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#300,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #288 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Diplomacy
- #394 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > International Relations
- #457 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Political Economy
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.
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
"Every page of Colossus is provocative." —Ernest May
"Amid the seemingly endless writings and decisions about ‘America as Empire,’ the most prominent recent voice is that of Niall Ferguson." —Paul Kennedy, New York Review of Books
About the Author
Niall Ferguson is one of the world's most renowned historians. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization, The Great Degeneration, Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, and The Square and the Tower. He is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His many awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).
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."