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The Myth of America's Decline: Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies
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The Myth of America's Decline: Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  93 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Once every decade, it is "decline time" in America. In recent years, it has been the unstoppable rise of China that has spelled "finis America." What the Chinese juggernaut is today, the Soviet Union ("We shall bury you") was in the 1950s. The Vietnam decade of the 1960s was described as America’s "collective suicide attempt," while in the 1970s, the United States succumbe ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 4th 2013 by Liveright
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Chris Chester
As a believer in America's gradual decline, I admit I picked up Josef Joffe's book with a haughty sense that I could defuse his argument somehow. And indeed, for much of the book I believed that he was simply missing the point. Here's a brief rundown of his argument, from my notes.

*The very belief in the decline of American power -- military, cultural, diplomatic -- represents an abdication of responsibility to foreign powers.

*The belief in a decline in American power has a history as long as th
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
People living in robust democracies are used to being bombarded by their academic and political elite about how their societies are often dysfunctional and are falling behind its rivals, friends and enemies. There is a predictable pattern to this negativism. In India, where I come from, it happens every ten years and at times even in five years. It has to do with the National election cycle. A political dispensation rules for five years after winning an election. If the economy does well during ...more
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received this book through Goodreads' First Reads program, so thank you for that.

This book reads largely like a lengthy college essay. Not to say it is sophomoric at all, but rather it follows the very basic pattern of essay writing: Introduction, body sections, and a conclusion. Of course, each section was a lengthy chapter and were filled with a lot of graphs that supported his various "topic sentences". In fact, it wouldn't have surprised me to find out this was someone's dissertation as i
Alex MacMillan
May 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
More informative books on the USA vs. BRICs topic are out there (Why America Is Not a New Rome, Stumbling Giant). On the other hand, Josef Joffe packs far fewer cliches than Fareed Zakaria or Joseph Nye's Davos-approved pabulum (The Post-American World, The Future of Power).

Joffe sticks to the framing of "decline" as the loss of geopolitical power and Gross Domestic Product. The data clearly show America's overwhelming superiority when it comes to bombing and buying stuff. He elides the real sub
Dan Zamborsky
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received this book as a First Reads giveaway and would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in current events and political science.

The Myth of America’s Decline: Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies by Joseph Joffe provides a fascinating look into the uniquely American phenomenon of the United States’ seeming decline in the face of foreign powers and global change. Joffe takes the reader through a historical tour of specific events in which America was
Carla JFCL
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This extremely interesting book uses history, economics, politics and general strategy techniques to defend the argument that, contrary to popular belief, America's place in the world is not going to fall anytime soon into doom, despair and destruction. It provides a fascinating look at our ever-present "woe-is-me" culture, which according to this author is primarily foisted upon us by media, politicians and special interest groups. He systematically debunks almost all of their arguments, using ...more
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, politics

I read Josef Joffe's The Myth of America's Decline, in large part because it intersected with my view of U.S. policy toward Latin America. What Joffe argues, pretty convincingly in my opinion, is that there are waves of declinism--the USSR was going to overtake us, then Japan, then Europe, and now China--but they all concentrate on very short-term, unsustainable signs. People gleefully argued the USSR and Japan would overtake the U.S. precisely as the
A brilliant, detailed reading of Declinism [as in the West and the Rest read by Niall Ferguson] in the US and the West.

The author does not suggest this is not occurring but places the idea within a historical context and then analyzes the different forms the declinist argument occurs and its unstated purposes. This is the most interesting part of the book.

With a contextualized understanding of the declinist ideology in hand, the author then proceeds to apply this to the idea of decline over th
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Joffe presents evidence of a fact that has been denied way too many times: most political and economic forecasters, including scholars, journalists, and others alike seem to never get it right. In his work, he takes the reader in a journey to demonstrate that the recurring prophecy of the Decline of the American Empire is no exception.

But the conclusion itself, nor the evidence so well presented, are the reasons why I would recommend this book. It is the in depth and clarity of the analysis wha
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Methinks Joffe has hit upon a subject that should concern us all - how the propagandists of the political elite have had us jumping through hoops far too long. I was eleven or twelve years old when I picked up a card in the local bank back in Wisconsin crowing about "the missile gap" and how if we kept following the ways of Ike, and not electing JFK, we were all doomed. Of course, Reagan used much the same ploy twenty years later, so this kind of "doom and gloom" politicking is an equal-party ph ...more
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I received this book through the First Reads program and greatly enjoyed it, especially when paired within the other texts I'm currently reading for my thesis. Joffe does an excellent job of situating America in a string of cyclical periods of "decline" (such as in relation to the Soviet Union or, currently, China), or what we are led to believe to be decline, yet America has persisted as a dominant global power. Politically these periods of "decline" have been seized upon my politicians to furt ...more
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Very good book. Joffe is clearly a genius of both economics and politics. I received a free copy of this book as a "first read" from Goodreads, and was not disappointed. I expected it to be a bunch of biased babbling about the current state of the economy. What I found was a history of economic policy in the U.S. and throughout the world, and how each "tide" of the economy guided politics and then led to chances in the economic future. I love the way the author traced the "gloom and doom" mental ...more
Samantha Plotkin
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Disclosure: I won this book through Goodreads' First Reads program. The Myth of America's Decline: Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies by Josef Joffe gives a strong, well-reasoned argument against the cyclical Declinism in American politics and culture. The book is a fast read and, while overly verbose at times, is written in language that an average reader can understand and enjoy. I do feel that too much time was spent restating the arguments and not enough of the book ...more
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Lots of facts that prove that we are number 1! He gives short shrift to the current decline in buying power of the middle class. Just so long as the U.S. dominates militarily and in GDP growth all will be well. He does not make any attempt to discuss the facts of current imbalance in the distribution of wealth and what it might mean going forward. He makes a case that overall in comparison to all other countries we are still on top. He does not look at any models about quality of life which even ...more
Brittany Perry
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through Goodread's First Reads. Fantastic, and might I say for those of you who think this book might be a tad on the boring side, its not. I was hooked within the first pages by the writer's use of simple language that anyone with a decent high school education can read. The tale of how presidents have come to power by playing America's downfall is fascinating. this a book that gives us history, present and future in one easy to understand volume on where we have been where we a ...more
Mary Davis
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this book and although it is not my normal choice in reading material, I enjoyed it. It is a must read for doubters in the US's ability to maintain a leadership role. It is well researched and well argued. I would recommend it to others who are interested in how economics really works on a large scale and how the economic history of the US belies the doomsayers failed predictions of U.S. economic decline and collapse.
I won this book by way of Goodreads First Reads. Thank you so much for the book!

As someone who is just learning about politics, I must say I enjoyed the book. While I frequently had to look up references (my fault, not the author's) I will say that this book cleared up a lot of my ignorance and also inspired me to research a lot. I wish I could say something more without sounding like an idiot. I'm appreciative I received this book! I will reread in the future.
Mark Singer
I tend towards long-term historical pessimism, but was intrigued by the books premise so I gave it a go.
Am I convinced? No.
The best part of the book is the detailed explanation of "Declinism" in the USA since the 1950s. Where it gets weak is where Joffe describes the strengths and weaknesses of other nations, but does not provide a comparable description of similar USA characteristics.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was one of the better global power books I've read in a while. Outlined how politicians and others have tried to convince America is in decline to sell their agenda, and then discusses in detail how power can be measured and looks ahead for global powers in the 21st century.
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite possibly the best debunking of the misuse of statistics and political rhetoric I've ever read. For anyone who laments the loss of bipartisan cooperation in America, and the rise of shrill extremism, this is a must read.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great book w/ lots of facts. My only criticism is that the beginning of the book spends too much time on the history of the predictions of America's decline. And the last bit of the book also rambles a bit. Overall, a really good, fascinating book.
Michael Fox
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Dec 27, 2013
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