The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 by Paul Kennedy
For those who think that America will always be number one, this book should be enlightening. Citizens of the British, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires doubtless though the same, as did citizens of Ming China and Imperial France. The lesson of this excellent book is that power erodes, that no state can have enough financial, economic, and military power to ever be secure. Much of the subject would be dry but for the author’s excellent writing and research that pulled up key quotes. (My favorite is; “A mass media…whose raison d’etre is to make money and secure audiences and only secondarily to inform.” ) As an overview of history from 1500 to 1989, when it was published, it can’t be topped. Professor Kennedy foresees the rise of China as a world power, but not the collapse of the Soviet empire or the reunification of Germany. I took the liberty of emailing him to ask if he had published anything updating these areas. He has just submitted a 685page Ms. Victory at Sea; 1936-1946. He also said that by the second half of this year he would turn in a new edition of Great Powers. I plan to read both, “If I’m spared,” as the Scots say.