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Empires The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States by Herfried Munkler

Empires The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States


Empires The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States by Herfried Munkler

Herfried Munkler is a walking one-man think tank. Die Zeit Until recently, it was thought by many that empires were relics of the past. But suddenly, in the wake of 9/11, the global war on terror and the invasion of Iraq, the question of imperial power has returned to the centre of debate: we now seem to be faced with a new American empire that many people regard as threatening. Do the politicians in Washington dictate the rules that the rest of the world must follow? Or do empires have a logic of their own to which even the most powerful rulers must succumb? In this major new book, Herfried Munkler analyses the characteristics of empires and traces the rise and fall of imperial powers from Ancient Rome to the present day. What is an empire? What risks does an imperial order face and what opportunities are offered? Munkler shows how empires provide stability and examines the dangers they face when their powers are overstretched. He argues that, while earlier empires from Ancient China and Ancient Rome to the Spanish, Portuguese and British empires had their own historical conditions, certain basic principles concerning the development and preservation of power can be discerned in all empires and are still relevant today. This book is a commanding walk through the history of empires and at the same time a brilliant analysis of the most modern of topics. It will appeal to students and scholars of international politics and history as well as general readers interested in political history and contemporary world politics.


What makes Munkler's effort intriguingly different is that he doesn't just talk about America, but offers fascinating thoughts on the European Union as, at least potentially, a kind of empire too. The Independent

[In] tough-minded style, the German strategist Herfried Munkler has expounded the world-historical logic of empires in an ambitious comparative work. Perry Anderson, London Review of Books

Although Munkler's concerns are firmly grounded in the present, it is the ambition and historical richness of his argument that most firmly distinguishes it from other attempts to make sense of empire. Defying the presentism that is so characteristic of much commentary on the subject, Munkler takes the reader on a panoramic journey from the 'parallel empires
of Rome and Qin Dynasty China, through the seaborne and steppe empires of the late medieval and early modern periods, to the imperial American present

... A pleasure to read. Australian Journal of Political Science

Seamlessly weaving together theory and empiricism, [Empires] is a historical analysis of the highest order.

Political Studies Review

Herfried Munkler is a walking one-man think-tank. Die Zeit

A fascinating examination of empire. Tribune

Munkler carefully traces the sweep of empires in history, distinguishes between that which is imperial and that which is imperialist, and renders a fascinating and balanced account of two contemporary cases: the contradictory elements of America's imperial destiny and the inevitability, following the US precedent, of the EU's taking on imperial forms, out of necessity, despite its anti-imperialist character. In a twenty-first century where issues of order and stability lie at the core of security questions, this timely book, elegant in its conception and translation, may be a vital guide. James Gow, King's College London

Without question, this is the best single volume available on the logic of empires, both ancient and modern. The empirical range is impressive, the debt to international relations theory helpful, and the whole is written with grace and clarity. John A. Hall, McGill University

About the Author

Herfried Munkler is Professor of Political Theory at Humboldt University, Berlin.

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Book Info

Publication date

17th April 2007


Herfried Munkler

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Polity Press


264 pages


Political structure & processes



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