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The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster; First Edition (January 1, 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0743294084
- ISBN-13 : 978-0743294089
- Item Weight : 1.75 pounds
- Dimensions : 7 x 1.5 x 10 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #985,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I'm still not sure what to make of the work. There is a sense of discovery that unfolds as you read, as though Talbott himself has just discovered that the gypsies have a word that describes any outsider as a barbarian, or that not all historians agree with his teachers at Hotchkiss, his prep school, regarding the role of the Huns in bringing on the Dark Ages in Europe. Unfortunately, much of what he appears to be discovering for the first time is actually old hat to scholars steeped in history, linguistics and cultural studies. Perhaps this is simply the difference between a journalist and a scholar. The gallivanting through history which transpires throughout the book leads to some startling gaps -- a discussion, for example, of the Ottoman Empire as tolerant, which surely makes you wonder if he's heard of the Armenian genocide. I'm sure a specialist in any of the fields which he condenses in his quick summary could nitpick his off the cuff generalizations, finding places where he has erred.
He is, of course, much more cogent when he finally arrives at the Clinton years -- though what is missing in this section of the book is a clear decision to embrace one level of analysis and stick to it. For example, in detailing American hubris at the end of the cold War and the ways in which the US was ill-prepared and ill-informed regarding the threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, he stresses that Americans were "preoccupied with the Monica Lewinsky scandal." Fair enough from a journalistic point of view, but surely a bureacratic politics explanation could also be constructed to explain why the EXPERTS (not the PUBLIC) dropped the ball on that one.
He's at his best when he speculates in his journalistic expert way, suggesting for example that Krauthammer's "unipolar moment" might equally have been a "multipolar moment" if only Clinton had had the courage to gamble in support of his convinctions and draw together a real internationalist coalition. I'm with the reviewer above, however, who suggested that this book represents, in a sense, Talbott's dissertation -- his laying out of his credentials for the Obama administration so they'll know who to call, provided they have an opening. Unfortunately, I think Hilary got Strobe's job.
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Incidentally, you claimed I recently viewed 13 pages of items. You got it wrong. All I was looking for was a large print combined Dictionary and thesaurus. So correct your error regarding my recently viewed items.