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The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone
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The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  331 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
What role should America play in the world? What key challenges face us in the century to come, and how should we define our national interests? These questions have been given electrifying new significance in the wake of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Not since Rome has any nation had so much economic, cultural, and military power, but that power is still not ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published December 31st 2001)
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Lauren Albert
Feb 04, 2011 Lauren Albert rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
The book is unsurprisingly dated having been written not long after 9/11. But much of what he has to say is still worth hearing. He discusses the difference between soft and hard power, when each is called for, and how to balance unilateralism and multilateralism in foreign policy. Many politicians (and citizens) could still learn from his discussion of immigration--a liberal immigration policy is what could save us from the coming fate of other developed countries with declining and aging ...more
Guilherme Casarões
Jan 25, 2009 Guilherme Casarões rated it really liked it
Fed up with so many people talking about 'soft power'? I know what you're talking about. Soft power became such a loose concept in daily political/diplomatic use that it lost much of its credit and explanatory power. Although this book is not the one in which Nye coined the idea of soft power, it is certainly where he applies it best. A great read for anyone who wants to understand why Bush got it wrong.
Sep 20, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
Here is the paradox: America is the most powerful nation on Earth, and has the responsibility to use that power, but also must use restraint. It must not just use "hard" power, like military force, but also "soft" power, like media. Nye was an assistant secretary of defense under Bill Clinton, so he has good working knowledge of the pragmatic world of international politics and power, but has that touch of liberalism to temper this pragmatism. (NOTE: I'm a major pragmatist in politics and ...more
Steve Kettmann
May 02, 2010 Steve Kettmann rated it liked it
My review from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002:

The United States' role on the world stage
Nye argues we should use 'soft power' of influence, not just military might
Reviewed by Steve Kettmann

Sunday, March 24, 2002

The Paradox

of American Power

Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone

By Joseph S. Nye Jr.


"The Paradox of American Power" is not a book likely to change
Aug 09, 2016 Christopher rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
A good working-paper on the case for a multilateral approach for U.S. foreign policy. I would first like to say tht I agree with most, if not all, of what Mr. Nye wrote. The reason why I gave this only four stars though is because he tends to lose his main point of explaining why we need a multilateral approach to foreign policy. He tends to dive into the aspects of our changing world, specifically the Information Revolution and Globalization, which seem important to his overall thesis, but he ...more
Aug 10, 2015 Luc rated it really liked it
This is a very good piece of analysis about international affairs issues that is still relevant in 2015. The main argument that the author try to underline throughout the book is that the United States must try to understand the complexities and realities of the world through globalization and transnational issues. The United States, in order to survive and maintain its superpower status must find the correct balance between its hard power, mainly the capacity to project its military forces ...more
Feb 16, 2009 Jamie rated it liked it
Slightly outdated in some of the analysis due to 2002 release, but relevant and insightful none the less. For anyone not ridiculously nationalistic, and open to the idea of a waning US supremacy (not to be confused with an overturn of US power), this book is perfect to help realize why and how we should start shaping our governmental policy and interaction with the world to not only create a better life for ourselves (assuming you are American), but a better life for the global community. Would ...more
May 16, 2007 Lily rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: International Affairs Enthusiasts
This book came about when I was in my International Relations/Affairs phase a few years ago. I went to a lecture regarding working abroad and the speaker suggested this author. It is quite interesting as he explains historically superpowers have been cyclical and how the US is at it's downward part of the cycle. The Author gives reasoning for his belief that China or India are poised to adopt the top position in the next generation and explains how "power" is really made up of a few things.
Apr 20, 2013 Royce rated it really liked it
I found the first three chapters to be tedious but the last two were enjoyable. There are several mentions of how America could squander its' soft power through arrogance, but as the book was written in 2002, before the asinine invasion of Iraq, I was dogged by wondering about the author's thoughts on a seemingly textbook example of unilateral high-handedness. On that note I look forward to reading Mr. Nye's more recent books.
Apr 01, 2009 Glen rated it really liked it
This book is as valid today as it was before we started the current wars. It is basically an application of his Soft Power premise to current events. Clearly, its recommendations were not heeded and I'm sure Mr. Nye has been seething for the past few years, but perhaps this new administration can reestablish diplomatic and economic leadership and return to the multilateralism so desperately needed to solve our global problems--economic, social, and environmental.
Aug 29, 2007 Debolitta rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: politics minded
yah, yg ini mah mao gk mau harus gw baca, biar lulus semester 5.
to be honest, ini keadaan Amerika sekarang.
kata siapa, negara sebesar AS gk ketar-ketir ngeliat keadaan ky sekarang ??
apalg Indonesia !?? haha. *falsifikasi.
Sergi Caravaca
A perfect explanation of the current international powers and the international relations of the USA. The book is from 2003, so an actualization is needed,specially after Irak's War and Bush's administration, that changed the international relationships, and also the arab spring.
Sep 08, 2007 Grant rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in foreign affairs
If you've taken an international relations class before reading this book, you'll love it. If you haven't, well then I don't know what to tell you
Very good, but I wish I had read it when it first came out in 2002 as most of the impact of the book's claims were lost due to already having been proven true by events.
Lyndsey Czapansky
Lyndsey Czapansky rated it it was ok
Oct 09, 2015
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Joseph Samuel Nye, Jr. is an American political scientist and former Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He currently holds the position of University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University where he has been a member of the faculty since 1964. He is also the co-founder, along with Robert Keohane, of the international relations theory ...more
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