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The Future of Power Hardcover – February 1, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Harvard professor Nye, who served in the state and defense departments of the Carter and Clinton administrations, respectively, was among the first to promulgate the notion of soft power and, subsequently, smart power�a concept the Obama administration seems to have fully embraced. But here Nye gives �smart power� far more depth and nuance than merely marrying force and persuasion. Rather, it involves setting clear and manageable objectives, understanding the resources available within dynamic circumstances, understanding the sensibilities of the targets of a country�s objectives, choosing among �power strategies,� and anticipating the success of those strategies. If the book sounds wonky, it is. But Nye brings specific historical examples to give life to his far-ranging understanding of power, and he realistically sets his book amid the complex dynamics of the world�s geopolitical players. Given Nye�s prominence in the diplomatic community, this volume is likely to attract considerable attention. --Alan Moores


Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State
“Joseph Nye is America’s foremost expert on the substance, diversity, uses, and abuses of power. He writes with insights that a president or secretary of state would find valuable, and makes foreign policy less foreign for every reader. If your goal is to understand world affairs in the twenty-first century, there could be no better guide than The Future of Power.”

Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of The Aspen Institute
“Power once came from controlling the sea lanes. In the future, Joe Nye explains, it will come from the ability to navigate the information lanes of cyberspace and control the narrative that influences people. Sweeping in its themes but specific in its examples, this book is exciting to read and fascinating to contemplate.”

Economist, February 4, 2011
"If…you find yourself hankering after sturdier fare, then salvation is at hand in the form of Joseph Nye's painstaking new work, The Future of Power.…The book comes alive when Mr. Nye…cast[s] doubt on the idea that America is in precipitate decline."

Kirkus, January 15, 2011
"Illuminating analysis of the mechanisms of power shaping global politics…. Nye Jr.’s latest book steers the traditional debate over power politics into a new direction….The author’s sober, rigorous analysis anchors a debate that seems to be squirming from the grip of most media. A great reminder that fear and hate are not the only tools used to sell books these days—a substantial work that should be read by anyone with an interest in how politics works."

Finacial Times, March 6, 2011
“An illuminating distillation of the power relationships shaping a world in which the state with the best military can lose to the adversary with the better story…Nye makes sense of these new complexities.”
Washington Times, April 5, 2011
“Nye’s writing style is accessible even when his subject grows more complex…. A helpful primer to better understand the tools available to those formulating America’s foreign policy.”

Foreign Affairs
, March/April 2011
“Nye is the preeminent theorist of power in world affairs today, and this book is a grand synthesis of his ideas and an essential guide to the debate over the decline of the United States and the rise of China.”
LA Times, March 25, 2011
“Whether it's navigating the political waves of the Middle East or the diplomatic dance with China, the book offers a generous batch of insights…. Nye is a savvy and respected analyst, and he doesn't disappoint here. He's grappling with the hardest of questions, and though The Future of Power can at times read somewhat meanderingly, it's the best kind of meandering: a learned journey through big ideas of what power means and how it is ever-evolving.”

Post, April 1, 2011
“Insightful, readable… Rich in clever one-liners and felicitous phrases…. Nye is a master of his field at the height of his powers.”


New Statesman
“As power moves from west to east and from the palaces of dictators to the street, it is not just the identities of power brokers that are changing: so is the very meaning of power. No one is better placed to explain these trends than the scholar-statesman Joe Nye… The Future of Power contains important essays on both ‘cyber power’ and ‘American decline’, but what is most useful is Nye’s subtle exegesis of the mechanics of more conventional forms of power.”

Guardian (UK), May 29, 2011
“Nye has a lot of interesting points to make against conventional wisdom in matters geopolitical and cultural.”



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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586488910
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586488918
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ann L. Hollick on February 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Joseph Nye's new book on the Future of Power brings reasoned analysis to bear on anxious predictions of America's relative decline vis a vis a rising China. While not ruling out the danger of conflict, Nye sees no need for the U.S. and China to go to war in the 21st century if Chinese hubris and American fears can be held in check. This volume goes a long way toward achieving that worth while objective. Building on his earlier study of soft and hard power, Nye argues that China and the US have much to gain from working together on major global challenges ranging from financial stability to climate change. This cooperation would, in Nye's words, represent the exercise of "smart power."
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The book focuses on how nations can exert influence. The two simplistic methods are hard power (mostly military strength) and soft power (cultural appeal, foreign aid, persuasion, etc.). Nye argues that both are important and that the proper balance between the two is what he calls "smart power." Nye focuses on rising nations that may not always see eye-to-eye with America. His conclusions strike me as accurate and remarkably well said. He has an upbeat view of America's future in the 21st Century. Academic but still approachable for the rest of us, this is a great book to read if you want to better understand America's role in the world.
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The US has, since WWII, been the most powerful and influential country in the world. Following the collapse of the Communist system in 1990 it is the sole super power. Nonetheless, there have been limits to the extension of American power. The most obvious example is the defeat in Vietnam. More recently, in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the US has become engaged in new wars of occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq. And the prognosis of those state building projects remains uncertain today.

Joseph S. Nye Jr. has provided a new book, The Future of Power, to assess American power and consider the future of America's reach. In some ways this book is an example par excellence of realpolitik. He offers a reasoned approach to assessing the limits of power and provides a methodology, which he terms `smart power,' as a strategy for the successful extension of American influence in the world. He explains that, while the US remains the dominate military power by far, it cannot successfully impose its will on the world order through military might alone. This is, as far as it goes, a rational critique of US policy and its continued reliance upon projected military strength. Indeed the US cannot afford the expense of maintaining military dominance and policing the world. So the author suggests a mix of soft and hard power that are measured against a prioritized list of goals in order to achieve the maximum influence possible. This is the essence of smart power. His advice would certainly be useful, if it were taken to heart by the many old cold-warriors who lead government policy. So from this perspective I think that The Future of Power is a worthy book.

However, in the long run not even smart power will be adequate.
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I have read a book a day for several decades, and consequently it has been my subjective experience that about one out of every 100 books is a gem, an absolutely wonderful gift to the reader. This book is that gem, and one simply has to read it with an open mind to gain an understanding of how the world works. Regardless of what side of the political fence you find yourself on, the left or the right, you will find The Future of Power to be INTENSE, PROVOCATIVE, and NECESSARY.

One can choose to maintain their preconceived notions about power, but after reading this book, it becomes clear that such people will be swept aside by the future that Nye describes so clearly. Your understanding of power will never be the same. We are at an inflection point in world history, and our traditional understanding of extrapolating the past into the future will not be a guide for what is coming next, but this book will be such a guide. If I had to use single words to describe what is in this book, I would say:

* Original

* Brilliant

* Readable

* Clear

* Pragmatic

* Lucid

* Sweeping

* Influential

* Seminal

Nye comes to us with extraordinary credentials. The fact that he was Dean of the Harvard School of Government (JFK School) for several years, I do not hold against him. His work in government including high positions at the National Security Council, National Intelligence Council, and the Defense Department have allowed him both influence, and the ability to evolve on a real world basis.
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"The Future of Power" is really "the future of American global power". Joseph Nye expands upon his Foreign Affairs essay (see November/December 2010 issue) to make a case for the use of smart power in U.S. foreign relations. Smart power is the ability to combine hard and soft power into a winning strategy. Thus, Nye recommends using a balanced combination of sticks and carrots in American foreign policy. Military power alone cannot accomplish U.S. foreign policy objectives. However, through the adroit and balanced use of military power, economic power and cultural power the United States will prevail globally. Cyber power is also essential to American foreign policy. Together, these strands make up the "DNA" for successful U.S. diplomacy.
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