1. Professor Boyle's book ranges widely in scope, identifying the current global predicament of a world caught in a financial and economic crisis, drawing on history for precedents and guidance, and looking to philosophy for a satisfactory way out over the longer term.
2. The book argues that the present moment may be akin to once in a century crisis situations, of which 1815 and 1914 are the most recent. In the first case, that of 1815, we had the Concert of Europe and the outcome was a century of peace with Britain as the world's leading power. In the second case, that of 1914, we had a war that continued in hot and cold modes for almost 80 years, under the overarching presence and authority of the United States. This long period of war has been followed by a global financial and economic crisis that is unprecedented in its scale.
3. The book then argues that the increasing global linkages call for greater authority to be vested in global institutions, and it is in a global mode that solutions must be sought. The time for the nation state is past, and to seek a solution in purely national terms would imply protectionism and acrimony; and if history be our guide, war.
4. The one particular policy that the book discusses is to levy a Tobin tax on speculative financial transactions (which ought to reduce the possibility of future financial crises), and use the proceeds to create a more equitable and harmonious world through ambitious goals relating to reducing poverty.
5. The book draws on philosophers to explore the nature of the state, the coming of the nation state, and the concept of personal identity. The philosophical underpinnings of the United States as an exceptional nation created by the Almighty to do good work on His earth are shown to be open to at least some doubt. I found the discussion of the frequently used device of "the American people" by the American politicians most interesting
6. Europe, the book posits, already accepts supranational institutions in the EU. The biggest hurdle therefore to the author's proposal (in his view) is whether the United States can be brought around to this perspective, and forego its self-declared exceptionality (and I would say that one cannot see any American politician suggesting that if s/he wishes to get elected). The alternative though is continuing instability and perhaps eventual war as nation states work to achieve their best interests to the exclusion of other nation states.
7. Now there are shortcomings in the book, but I have rated it as a 5 star work because not much more was possible within the bounds of the what would be about 100 pages of a regular book (this one is a volume with small pages). The shortcomings though are not of a critical nature (eg, whether it is IMF that is best placed to do the Tobin tax, how should the governance of an international institution be structured, etc, at one level; and how would China respond to these ideas at another level) and do not violate the basic concepts and argument put forth.
8. The critical aspect for me is the broad ideas that the book brings together in one coherent whole; the shortcomings may then be seen as the further work that is required by the concepts set out in the book.
9. I have also posted this review on Amazon UK