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Colossus: The Price of America's Empire
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Colossus: The Price of America's Empire

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  1,067 ratings  ·  92 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 nev ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 26th 2004 by Penguin Press HC, The
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(showing 1-30 of 2,319)
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Joe
Jun 20, 2007 Joe rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aspiring Imperialists
This book made me nostalgic of the good ol' days of Western imperialism. Ah, nothing like waking up to the markets of the former Ottoman Empire, sampling the Asian teas from the top of a pagoded camel, smiling at your Mohammedean fez-headed domestic servant condescendingly... ahh...

Apparently, Imperialism can be a good thing. Countries of old British colonialism were given decent infrastructures (in exchange for total subserviance), not to mention America's two big post-occupied nations of Japa
...more
Stephen
5.0 stars. This was an insightful and incredibly enjoyable read. Despite being exhaustively researched, the writing was clear, consise and, unexpectedly, entertaining. Ferguson puts forth a compelling case for the benefits of the U.S. embracing the role of a "liberal" empire while at the same time identifying the internal and external conditions that will likely prevent the U.S. from accepting the role. Highly recommended!!
Erica Mukherjee
Though my political tendencies are decidedly left-leaning, it was interesting to read Colossus, by Niall Ferguson, a staunch conservative. While the book had a tendency to spend more time on digression and example than the main thesis, Ferguson laid down the argument that the United States is an imperial nation and should uncomplainingly accept the purple mantle rather than shy away from her responsibility. From a man whose previous books include a eulogy to the British Empire, his love of impe ...more
S.
everybody knows, so to speak, that the Brits have an edge in literature and non-fiction writing, but is it possible to quantify this edge? and does the UK, a nation of 63 million, really produce more and better material than the US, population 310 million and economy correspondingly 6x the size? I was thinking of scribbling out this screed on a Simon Winchester entry, but intellectual tasks happen when they do. we can't go around planning everything of course.

I guess in goodreads terms there is
...more
Eric
Interesting read, but a clear indicator that Ferguson's foreign policy worldview is best confined to paper.
Szplug
Many deny that the United States is an empire, but, actually, it is: in its military, political, economic, and cultural dominance, influence, wealth, and impact it is unparalleled, perhaps in all of history. In lieu of indignant or heated denial, why not accept it; indeed, why not embrace it? The United States has many flaws, and in its interaction with the rest of the (suppliant and envious) world there are numerous areas where improvement is not only possible, but necessary. This state of affa ...more
La pointe de la sauce
Niall Ferguson is a confused man. In his introduction he begins by making the assertion that the U.S has an imperialist mindset and argues that this could actually be a good thing.

He paints a picture of an empire hungry America, with an appetite for 'untrammeled command over it's military ventures' looking for ways to circumvent the U.N, is inhibited by a 'no casualties mindset' while at the same time remaining indifferent to collateral damage that inevitably resulted from high-altitude bombing.
...more
Bas Kreuger
What a book! What a joy to read. Hefty stuff on the way the US should choose to be an empire and behave consiously as such. Ferguson takes the British Empire as an example how to rule (part of) the world and takes the point of view that an empire isn't a bad thing by definition. When you compare several African states in the 19th century within the Empire with the ghastly condition they are in now as independant states, he makes a choice for stability, food, work and a healthy economy instead of ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 09, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tata J
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 501, non-fiction
This is my 3rd book among to the 50 that are classified as HISTORY books in 501 MUST READ BOOKS by Bounty Books (2006; UK). Like the previous two: HIROSHIMA by John Hersey (1946) and CHE GUEVARA: A REVOLUTIONARY LIFE by John Lee Anderson (1997), I enjoyed this a lot too. In the 501 INTRODUCTION, the publisher explained that these 50 history books are so different in terms of style and context and yet, if you were to read every title recommended here you would have a phenomenal understanding of, ...more
David Sarkies
Oct 03, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians
Recommended to David by: Saw it in a book shop and said - oh, Niall Ferguson
Shelves: history
In favour of the American Empire
19 October 2009

I find Professor Ferguson to be an incredibly insightful historian and a very concise writer, and I must say that I have really enjoyed the books of his that I have read. However, I did find that this book did start to become a bit dry and depressing near the end, but it is still a very good book and well worth the read. Without going into extensive arguments and discussions about what America should do with her unprecedented power, and also the co
...more
Christopher
This is a wonderful book with wonderful conclusions that is ill-served by a rather poor historical argument in the first half. Ferguson, swimming against the political currents, argues that not only has the U.S. always been an "empire in denial," but a Liberal American empire focused on ending genocide, introducing democratic values, and lowering poverty levels would be the best thing for the world. He makes the rather unique argument that, contrary to popular belief, the British Empire of old b ...more
Ron
Niall Ferguson is predictably well-reasoning and thorough about making his case that the United States is an empire, and has been since the late 1800s. He makes the case that it is an empire in denial, and that this poses risks to the world peace. So while many on the extreme left would happily agree with everything so far, Ferguson then goes on to say that the USA needs to recognize it is an empire in order to fulfill it's duties properly as an empire. So I guess in summary, he has the view a b ...more
Jonathan
Niall Ferguson's account of how America became a "liberal empire" - replacing the British one - and how she can keep that status is sadly out of date by now. Ferguson predicts in this book that if anything will keep America from fulfilling it's basically benign role in the world, it's the government's insane fiscal policies and enormous deficit. If anything, things now are far worse (the book was written in 2003) what with the Obama administration's health care scam, bailout poncy schemes, and i ...more
Shiloh
Colossus displays Ferguson's usual talent for advocating unconventional propositions (in this case, that imperialism is in fact good and that the U.S. should embrace its imperial role in the world today). Unfortunately, Ferguson's analysis is somewhat unfocused and outdated. For example, if published today Colossus would devote much more attention to the rise of China as a peer competitor to the U.S. rather than on the European Union, which is itself crumbling. However, Colossus convincingly pre ...more
Hadrian
Extremely interesting view of America's role and behavior in world history. Ferguson assets that 1) the United States has unconsciously been an empire throughout much of history, 2) The U.S. is not just a 'traditional' empire, as it also focuses on soft/economic power, 3) Both U.S. citizens and foreigners have had mixed feelings towards Empire, 4) The U.S.'s imperialism may yet be a positive in world affairs. Covers a wide range of topics, from the Middle East to economics to the relationships b ...more
Jeremy
Major premise is that America has always been an Empire. We're like the Egyptians because we're just in de-nile.

We are different type of empire than previous ones, namely that we rebuild and let the conquered nation take over its own destiny. We also used the Monroe and Truman doctrine to keep a maintain a hold on spheres of influence. We also looked after struggling people groups, keeping our interests firmly in place. We must embrace our destiny and come to terms the fact that we are the most
...more
Shannon Mcconkie
Niall Ferguson potentially holds the answer to a myriad of geopolitical problems facing America today; Islamic terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, illegal immigration, etc. His answer is simple: America simply needs to stop denying that it is an empire and start engaging in some legitimate 19th century European-style Imperialism.

I tend to agree with most of Ferguson's tenets. Anyone who is educated or who has traveled throughout Asia or Africa can attest to the political and economic be
...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Ferguson believes that empires are inherently good things. Colossus offers a provocative diatribe against America's underutilized power, self-absorption, and refusal to embrace a crucial global role. In the process, he analyzes the interaction between domestic and foreign policy, the roots of empires, the fit between globalization and imperialism, and America's many challenges, including funding the war on terror. Generally, Ferguson is balanced, readable, informative

Laura
Caveat: My five stars rating reflects the fact that this was an enjoyable, interesting read and I thought the book was well written and thought-provoking. My rating for Colossus is not necessarily in comparison with other books of its type or genre, since this is really one of the first books in contemporary economic & political analysis that I have read.
Arnold
His brilliant explanation as to why the USA only thinks it is an empire. Up to his usual ultra high sandards and vital for anyone wishing to understand the world in which we live
Richard
Meh. More of Niall Ferguson's smug nonsense.

Buuut entertaining enough.
Matt Bates
Yes. I liked the book. Most political books tend to be biased towards one party or the other. Since this is less a political book and more a history book, it sidesteps that. But really, one of the few politics books that I REALLY enjoyed reading. I read a lot of them, but this one was actually very enjoyable. He brings up many good points, and many things that I was completely unaware of. Also, I read the book like a year and a half ago so if I'm foggy on the details it's because I can't complet ...more
Spencer Willardson
This was a thought-provoking book that brought in many ideas from international relations and history to make a compelling argument for the U.S. as an empire. The normative implications of embracing that role are interesting and Ferguson does a good job of highlighting the conundrums of liberal empire building.

The book is a bit dated now with its focus on the beginning of the conflict in Iraq, but the way that we left Iraq and are working to leave Afghanistan are consistent with Ferguson's desc
...more
Kym Andrew Robinson
Though this book was written in 2003, it comes across as some what dated. It spends a great deal looking at the balance of power in the then present as it seeks to justify the benevolence of the American Empire, alluding that perhaps if not for it, then calamity would befall the World.

I do for the most part enjoy Ferguson, he has produced a large body of work on a variety of interesting subjects. I have read, listened and watched a great deal of his productive efforts and I can say that he is f
...more
Matt
A European arguing that an America interested in extending its influence in this world would be a good thing. Only problem he says is that America has never been than interested in empire and fails to capitalize on the de facto empire we have. Part of the problem is that we don't have the stomach for loss of American lives (no matter how many non-American lives we could possibly save in return). Nor do we have the attention span to stay with the exercise of nation building that would naturally f ...more
Dennis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fawls13
This is an excellent book.
It was published in 2005, before the 'Great Recession' so it was hamstrung slightly because some of the trend data is now thrown out of whack in some ways. However, the actuality of economic shock fits in with the 'storyline' of this book quite well.

It is not a gloom and doom look at the economics of the US but it does give a well supported and well thought out view of the economic hazards facing the US. I particularly like the look at the military expenditures the auth
...more
Russell Hayes
This book hearkens back to the days of European imperialism and encourages the US to emulate that old successful formula. A self-declared imperialist, Niall Ferguson argues that if the US would commit in the long term to staying in countries and building them up (e.g., most recently, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq), rather than going in half-heartedly and setting timetables for withdrawal, perhaps they would turn out more like Germany and Japan after the decades-long US occupation of those countr ...more
Ryan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike
Ferguson is one of my favorite new authors. He provides ample evidence and well reasoned arguments. Usually most political writers or books are rhetoric and nothing more. Ferguson has a knack for connecting current events with historically parallel situations and drawing reasonable conclusions for present action.

In "Colossus" he looks at America's empire and compares it with other empires in history. The most similar is the British empire. Ferguson draws many helpful insights from Britain's succ
...more
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Niall Ferguson (born April 18, 1964, in Glasgow) is a British (Scottish) historian who specialises in financial and economic history as well as the history of empire. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and the William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He was educated at the private Glasgow Academy in Scotland, and at Magdal ...more
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