Colossus: The Price of America's Empire

Front Cover
Penguin Press, 2004 - Political Science - 384 pages
67 Reviews

Is America an empire? Certainly not, according to our government. Despite the conquest of two sovereign states in as many years, despite the presence of more than 750 military installations in two thirds of the world's countries and despite his stated intention "to extend the benefits of freedom...to every corner of the world," George W. Bush maintains that "America has never been an empire." "We don't seek empires," insists Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. "We're not imperialistic."

Nonsense, says Niall Ferguson. In Colossus he argues that in both military and economic terms America is nothing less than the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. Just like the British Empire a century ago, the United States aspires to globalize free markets, the rule of law, and representative government. In theory it's a good project, says Ferguson. Yet Americans shy away from the long-term commitments of manpower and money that are indispensable if rogue regimes and failed states really are to be changed for the better. Ours, he argues, is an empire with an attention deficit disorder, imposing ever more unrealistic timescales on its overseas interventions. Worse, it's an empire in denial—a hyperpower that simply refuses to admit the scale of its global responsibilities. And the negative consequences will be felt at home as well as abroad. In an alarmingly persuasive final chapter Ferguson warns that this chronic myopia also applies to our domestic responsibilities. When overstretch comes, he warns, it will come from within—and it will reveal that more than just the feet of the American colossus is made of clay.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
14
4 stars
23
3 stars
22
2 stars
6
1 star
2

Review: Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire

User Review  - Bjørn Peterson - Goodreads

He basically argues that the US isn't as good at being an Empire as it should be. It's provocative, but not new. Essentially the same arguments were made in 19th century France to persuade a hesitant public to back colonialism. It's a whole lot of Western arrogance and narcissism. Read full review

Review: Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire

User Review  - Spencer Willardson - Goodreads

This was a thought-provoking book that brought in many ideas from international relations and history to make a compelling argument for the US as an empire. The normative implications of embracing ... Read full review

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2004)

Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. The bestselling author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, and Colossus, he also writes regularly for newspapers and magazines all over the world. Since 2003 he has written and presented three highly successful television documentary series for British television: Empire, American Colossus, and, most recently, The War of the World.

Bibliographic information