- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Allen Lane; 1st edition edition (29 April 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0713997702
- ISBN-13: 978-0713997705
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.7 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire Hardcover – 29 Apr 2004
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"The United States today is an empire--but a peculiar kind of empire", writes Niall Ferguson in Colossus: the Rise and Fall of the American Empire. Despite overwhelming military, economic and cultural dominance, the US has had a difficult time imposing its will on other nations, mostly because the country is uncomfortable with imperialism and thus unable to use this power most effectively and decisively. The origin of this attitude and its persistence is a principal theme of this thought-provoking book, including how domestic politics affects foreign policy, whether it is politicians worried about the next election or citizens who "like Social Security more than national security".
Ferguson, author of Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, has no objection to an American empire, as long as it is a liberal one actively underwriting the free exchange of goods, labour and capital. Further, he writes that "empire is more necessary in the 21st century than ever before" as a means to "contain epidemics, depose tyrants end local wars and eradicate terrorist organisations". The sooner America embraces this role and acts on it confidently, the better.
Ferguson contrasts this persistent anti-imperialistic urge with the attitude held by the British Empire and suggests that America has much to learn from that model if it is to achieve its stated foreign policy objectives of spreading social freedom, democracy, development and the free market to the world. He suggests that the US must be willing to send money, civilians and troops for a sustained period of time to troubled spots if there is to be real change, as in Japan and Germany after World War II--an idea that many American citizens and leaders now find repulsive. Rather than devoting limited resources and striving to get complex jobs done in a rush, Americans must be willing to integrate themselves into a foreign culture until a full Americanisation has occurred, he writes.
Overall, this is a trenchant examination of a uniquely American dilemma and its implications for the rest of the world. --Shawn Carkonen, Amazon.com
Colossus confirms Niall Ferguson's standing as one of the most incisive writers of history, politics and economics today (Sunday Telegraph)
One of the timeliest and most topical books to have appeared in recent years (Literary Review)
Yet another tour de force from a writer who displays all his usual gifts of forceful polemic, unconventional intelligence and elegant prose ... guaranteed to spark fierce debate (Irish Times)
A bravura exploration of why Americans are not cut out to be imperialists but nonetheless have an empire. Vigorous, substantive, and worrying (Timothy Garton Ash) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
As a Brit who knows America well, and who genuinely enjoys the country and it's people (with the exception of narrow-minded individuals such as the aforementioned reviewer), I find it insulting to be told that Britain is fervently anti-American. While such feelings certainly exist (perhaps understandably given recent political movements emerging from the White House), they are FAR less prominent in Britain than in just about any other corner of the world. Perhaps the support given by Britain to America in recent conflicts, while the British government manages to retain a relatively high level of public approval is pure coincidence?Read more ›
The liberal empires (first the British empire and now, somewhat reluctantly, the American empire) are guided by the principle of the spread of liberal values across the globe. They are motivated by the desire to bring responsible representative government to countries in which it does not exist, to engender respect for the rule of law, create the stability needed for economic growth and encourage the peaceful coexistence of nations. Ferguson decisively rejects the Hobson theory of empire as some quasi mafia style protection racket run by elites in the imperial core.
Looking at the historical record, Ferguson argues that imperial status has done a great deal of good. The stability thereby created enhances the colonial state's credit ratings, thus allowing it to borrow and service its debts more cheaply than countries outside the imperial system. Also the guarantee of intervention by the imperial power in cases where the colony is threatened or otherwise in difficulty promotes further stability and positive attidues to the future, so necessary for investment and growth. This is backed up by statistical argument that growth rates within the British empire were superior to those of the same countries once outside the imperial framework.
This book is however about America.Read more ›
That would be an excellent summary of Colossus. Ostensibly, this is a book about empire in general and the American “empire” in particular. We’re taught extensively about previous empires, such as the British Empire, potential challengers to the American “empire” (with plenty of scorn thrown the EU’s way) and we’re given the author’s view on empire in the introduction: a liberal empire can be a force for good in Niall Ferguson’s view. It’s almost your duty to run one if you can.
A list of reasons is given, furthermore, that make the US “Empire in denial” unlikely to succeed the way the British Empire had done: it has lost the willingness (and, increasingly the ability) to dedicate the necessary finances to the cause of running an empire, it lacks the manpower to rule (Americans are very reluctant to spend time abroad running an empire the way the British used to), it lacks the patience to wait the minimum one generation it takes to see nation-building through, it is allergic to loss of American lives in combat etc. etc.
But if you ask me, this is all filler. This is a book about the 2003 invasion of Iraq.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book does not look the same as the picture advertised as the cover was different but the delivery was promptPublished 24 days ago by West Midlands Washing Machines Ltd
Very interesting and compelling; I recommend it wholeheartedlyPublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is American history forced through the prism of empire, and aspects that don't fit the narrative are left out. Don't just use this book as a source.Published 8 months ago by Alex Ray
An ok book that sometimes gets lost in the detail. Having said that some of the facts and figures provided are very useful. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Frank A Wheeler
I'm a great fan of Niall Ferguson's books although this one, I regret to say, I found a little boring. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Avid Reader
Niall Ferguson's book is excellent and he shows in this book shows the remarkable rise from a colony to the most productive and technology advanced and richest country in the... Read morePublished 19 months ago by P I
I have only read a few pages but again beautifully written and structuredPublished 23 months ago by Caroline Gulliford