About national and international power in the "modern" or Post Renaissance period. Explains how the various powers have risen and fallen over the 5 centuries since the formation of the "new monarchies" in W. Europe.
In the year 1500, the date chosen by numerous scholars to mark the divide between modern and pre-modern times, it was by no means obvious to the inhabitants of Europe that their continent was poised to dominate much of the rest of the earth.
Wikipedia article: The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict From 1500 to 2000, by Paul Kennedy, first published in 1987, explores the politics and economics of the Great Powers from 1500 to 1980 and the reason for their decline. It then continues by forecasting the positions of China, Japan, the European Economic Community (EEC), the Soviet Union and the United States through the end of the 20th century.
Book Review from the New York Times: ''The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers'' is a book that can be read on at least two levels. On the one hand it presents a clearly defined and closely reasoned thesis explaining the subject matter of the title - why nations rise and fall, and why the process is still continuing. On the other, in order to provide the data for his thesis, Mr. Kennedy gives a clearly written and fairly uncontentious history of the rise and fall of Europe and its empires and the confrontation between the superpowers which had followed. He unashamedly endorses the view of the German historian Leopold von Ranke that history is fundamentally about high politics, and that politicians will be better at their jobs if they understand the historical processes of which they form part.
Book Review: Looking back it is hard at first to recall why this book stirred so much controversy when it was published. It is Kennedy's unexceptional thesis that Great Powers rise to a point where they are overextended because of their imperial commitments and the expenditures needed to defend them. This diversion of national resources to the military saps the strength of the economy and forces an inevitable decline. When he writes as a historian, tracing the cycles of the rise and fall of Great Powers of the past, he makes an overwhelming case that this is so. But he stumbles badly, and this is where the controversy arose, when he tries to apply his theory to the United States.
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