My photo
Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Chapel Hill, Boston, Istanbul, Calgary, Washington DC, Austin, Tunis, Warszawa and counting

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

Paul Kennedy's monster work, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers - Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 had been referenced by a lot of the guys I had read before. It is a crazy book because of the detailed look it takes at power politics over a period of 500 years. I have to admit that I don't want to get into describing this book too much because any short blog entry would barely scratch the surface anyway and not give the amount of information provided by Kennedy justice. Thus, in only a few sentences:

Kenedy's main argument is that economic change and military prowess go hand in hand and that in the long run economic might determines military might and thus shapes the politics of the Great Powers. Disappointing, even if Kennedy surely cannot be blamed for that, was the fact that the book was written before the fall of the USSR, thus some of the analyses are completely irrelevant for today. Nonetheless I felt that his book helped me to develop a better understanding of the politics of power and war of the last 500 years (and especially and most relevantly of the 20th century).

Don't read this book just out of boredom, but if you do pick it up, it will provide with a wealth of information, the only downside of which might be that it proves once again how little we really know.

1 comment:

srh said...

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers is far from irrelevent today. Shortly after its publication, Kennedy's thesis was elegantly proved by the Soviet Union's overextension in Afganistan and subsequent economic demise as a world power.

And it is being proved again as the financial impact of the United States' disastrous incursion in Iraq only now begins to be seen on the world economic scene.