- Hardcover: 496 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 11, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195304314
- ISBN-13: 978-0195304312
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.5 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,294,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Rule of Empires: Those Who Built Them, Those Who Endured Them, and Why They Always Fall 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Unhappy empires are, in crucial respects, all the same—and happy ones don't exist, according to this incisive study. Historian Parson (The British Imperial Century, 1815–1914) surveys imperial regimes from Rome's rule in ancient Britain to Spain's in Peru, Britain's in India and Kenya, and Nazi Germany's occupation of France. He identifies a single mercenary purpose behind these diverse examples: to loot the wealth and exploit the labor of conquered peoples. At the same time, he argues, stable rule requires the cooperation and assimilation of imperial subjects, which sets up a fatal contradiction—as an empire co-opts its subjects, it becomes harder to profitably exploit them, and the financial underpinnings of empire crumble. Challenging neo-imperialists like Niall Ferguson, the author insists that there is no such thing as benign empire; he fingers Britain's allegedly liberal empire as one of the most dysfunctional, because of its racist refusal to assimilate its populace. Parsons draws together an enormous amount of scholarship into a lucid, cold-eyed analysis of the mechanics of imperial control. The result is a compelling critique of empires past and of their latter-day nostalgists. (June)
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"A lucid, cold-eyed analysis of the mechanics of imperial control. The result is a compelling critique of empires past and of their latter-day nostalgists." --Publishers Weekly
"Parsons, an Africanist by training, samples instructive imperial experiences: Roman Britain, Muslim Spain, Spanish Peru, the East India Company in Italy, Napoleonic Italy, British Kenya, and Vichy France." --Charles S. Maie, Foreign Affairs
"Parsons sets an ambitious agenda for his case study on empires and largely succeeds. Explicitly setting out to counter the neoimperialist historiography of the last decade, Parsons uses a series of historic imperial episodes to illustrate the limits of empire and explain why empires subsequently fall... Students of empire, historical or otherwise, would be well advised to read this book... Highly recommended." --Choice
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Top customer reviews
The current state of the post-nation-state world's 21st century DGE (Disguised Global Empire), which uses empire's perfected predatory trick of employing disguises to hide its true nature, is extant on a wider basis than ever before, but is nominally head-quartered, not surprisingly, in the most powerful and most deluded previous nation-state, the United States --- but clearly encompasses other previous nation-state/countries like; UK, France, Israel, et al. in the global empire's realm.
Parsons' elucidation of empires' key factors of wealth and resource "extraction" and its skill in maintaining and playing upon distinctions between 'citizens' and 'subjects' can be clearly seen in empires over all ages --- and of even more value to a careful reader, shows analogies to the current 21st century's post-nation-state global empire.
The author points out of all empires, "when stripped to its essence, empire is nothing more than the political embodiment of unchecked avarice" --- to which I would add only that stripping away this most modern disguise of the DGE requires an understanding of the corporate/financial/militarist (and media) Empire that has quietly captured and now fully "Occupies" our former country, by hiding behind the facade of a much more modernized and sophisticated two-party "Vichy" sham of faux-democratic and totally illegitimate government --- evolved from the earlier Nazi Empire attempt to employ a crude one party "Vichy" facade in captured and "Occupied" France c. 1940.
A contemporary reader of Parsons' book could easily recognize that comparing the fraud of the current 1% elite 'extracting' wealth from fading nation-states in America and Europe, is not best understood as "going back 500 years to the age of feudalism or oligarchy", but is rather analogous to all of history --- that is, of the history of Empires that Parsons describes.
Providing money, or any special means to 'extract' wealth generally, whether by the Roman Empire's early and overt spoils of war or the most modern and sophisticated 21st century ethereal looting through dumping the negative externality costs of financial 'debt bombs' on governments of the world, is something that has always been provided for the 1%, but it has a name which covers all of history --- and that name is Empire.
Empire has always been the way the world has been operated "of, by, and for" the 1%. The very concept of the "1%", as Occupy has only most recently reminded us, is the concept and construct of Empire. The 1% have always extracted the wealth of the world from the 99% by using Empire. The only thing that has evolved over the centuries is the way that Empire (like a parasitic pathology) has improved and particularly disguised the means for extracting wealth. Saying that the Occupy movement is for the 99% and against the 1% can be more simply described and understood after reading "The Rule of Empires", by saying that the Occupy movement is really an attempt to "Occupy the Empire", and ultimately excise empire from history.
In fact, Parsons' book, when considered as essential to understanding of empire and the knowledge to excise empire, can be viewed as the type of book that Francis Fukuyama most recently had in mind to write, after his recanting of his 1992, "The End of History", and being what he seems to have had in mind in his Jan/Feb 2012 "Foreign Affairs" article "The Future of History" --- to redraw a more optimistic view of man's future history beyond empire.
It is encouraging to see that Amazon is providing a volume textbook discount on Parsons' book. "The Rule of Empires" is quite accessible to any audience interesting in understanding history and political-economics, and could prove extremely valuable to the future of our society if it were to become required reading for all liberal arts college students.
I FIRST SAW THIS BOOK IN A LIBRARY IN THE 5TH AVENUE, NYC. IT ATTRACTED ME AND I WAS STANDING IN THE SHOP, READING IT FOR MORE THAN 2 HOURS....I WANT IT TO BUY IT ON THE SPOT. THE PRICE WAS 4 TIMES HIGHER THAN AMAZON.COM. I ORDER IT AND READ IT.
THE AUTHOR OFFERS A NEW POINT-OF-VIEW OF THE EMIPRES, THEIR MASTER, CRONIES, ASSOCIATES AND COLLABORATORS: THESE ANGLES AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ARE MODERN, INTELLIGENT, DIFFERENT, ELOQUANT, ACCURATE, FRESH AND ELEGANT.
THIS IS A NICE AND INTELLIGENT BOOK TO READ AND CITE FROM IT.
Every good theoretical work should be falsifiable. That is, it should open itself to argument and encourage further work by others in the field. A scholarly work is not an answer, but a contribution to a conversation about how to search historical material for understanding of what happened and perhaps why. It is judged by how substantial a contribution it has made to the furtherance of the task, here, the task of historians. The contestability of good historical work might raise the question, what good is it? Compare economics. But the old German saying, Geschichte its unmittelbar an Gott, remains true. History is valuable in itself. It needs no point other than the search for meaning in what happened.