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The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  319 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Paperback, 52 pages
Published April 1978 by William Blackwood and Sons, Ltd.
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  319 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Nick Burchett
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, favorites
An interesting thesis that should be sobering to any current world empire, including the United States. Some may think his generalization not sufficient for supporting his thesis, but I would disagree in that what he does present is part of our historical record and it's exactly because of the things he mentions that a revisionist point of view of the history of empires does not do it justice. He makes a very valid point that "We do not learn from history because our studies are brief and prejud ...more
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
I've got to admit, John Glubb's observations were quite striking. I was blown away by its relevance for today. It's not PC at times, but that does not concern me.

My major criticism with this book, is the nonexistent references. There is no way that I can verify this to be an accurate book. For all I know, it could be an attempt for Glubb to cunningly push his political ideology...
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"XXXIX Summary
As numerous points of interest have arisen
in the course of this essay, I close with a brief summary, to refresh the reader’s mind.
(a) We do not learn from history because our studies are brief and prejudiced.
(b) In a surprising manner, 250 years emerges as the average length of national greatness.
(c) This average has not varied for 3,000 years. Does it represent ten generations?
(d) The stages of the rise and fall of great nations seem to be:
The Age of Pioneers (outburst) The Age of
Nathaniel Durgasingh
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book speaks on the great empires of our ancestors and their steady decline and fall. Its damning that history has (once again) shown us that nothing is new under the sun. The unfortunate thing is that many of the ideologies and things done during the decline of an empire is taking place presently in the West.
Douglas Wilson
Mar 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture-studies
Very good. Also read in October of 1982.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“The only thing we learn from history, is that men never learn from history.”
C. Drying
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it

There are a couple of reasons I was interested in reading this essay. I first learned about it while watching a YouTube video on the Forward Observer channel where mention of some of its content resonated with my ever-increasing concerns about the decline of Western Civilization. This combined with the fact that America is a few years away from being 250-years old and, according to Sir John Glubb, great empires (or superpowers) tend to rise and fall within a 250-year
Michele Herrera
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
EVERYONE should read this.
Rock Angel
Dunno if this site is safe (file is 26 pages long instead of 52):


A British General who spent >1/4 century in the middle east from late 1920's became a prolific writer on the Arab culture: Bedouins with whom he had first hand experience, the empire's history, religion, military etc.

Author's bio from
"After WW1, Glubb became an Arabist. Resigning his British army commission in 1926 to become an administrator for the Iraqi government, he
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
An interesting read about the rising and falling of empires. The model of the 10 generations that it introduces seems overly simplistic but the breakdown of the different ages that represent the graducal changes of focus of the empire and its people is fascinating. He is not as radical as Rousseau for example, but it is obvious that he is critical of the over-intellectualism that characterizes our age. It will probably appeal more to people who prefer right wing ideologies but it should be an in ...more
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A short text documenting the rise and fall of various nations. Disturbing in its implications to Western society, and something I believe should be required reading for everyone living in a "Western" society (Europe, North America, parts of Asia, etc). No particular argument is given by the author regarding this, but the patterns provided are telling enough; as another review put it: "The American Empire is on its way down, there is no saving it, and that's probably for the best."
Dec 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
Short essay gleaning through the lifecycle of historical empires that the average life-span of an empire is 250 years and that it goes through six stages:


The American Empire is on its way down, there is no saving it, and that's probably for the best.
Chris Doran
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mr glubb's offensive anti-intellectualism and disdain for freedom is repugnant to me. If i want to spend all day eating cheese-its and masturbating to children's pony cartoons why shouldn't i? it's my right to do so and you can't stop me. society is better now than it has ever been. thank you obummer.
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A worthy discovery...
Jared Tobin
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I stumbled onto this tiny book while browsing Steve Hsu's blog. It's a short read, but a powerful meditation.

Glubb's thesis is that civilizational decline follows a pattern -- that there is a tendency, over the span of roughly ten generations, for a human civilization to decline from a robust, confident, and capable character into an effete, weak, and fractious one. This proceeds over a series of 'Ages', each with its own character, and Glubb discusses each in detail.

I find the general thrust of
Aravind Raamkumar
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This essay can be compared to an executive summary of a doctoral dissertation about the stages of different empires in the history of mankind. Glubb's military background is pretty much evident in his writing. Classifying empires into different ages can be a difficult proposition for any history scholar. The brilliant classification scheme put out by Glubb is the main contribution of this essay. I wouldn't be surprised if this book is part of the seminal reading collections of extreme right wing ...more
Marc Cooper
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting thesis that could be applied to a number of nations in today's world.

Other than the author neither listing nor, apparently, being aware of his own biases, and the parts that today would be considered non-PC, the biggest omission is that of any suggestion of how to break or extend the 250-year life-cycle of "Empires" (or super-states) that he identifies.

The author's bias (as a military man) truly shows when he suggests that: "Perhaps some means could be devised to prevent the activ
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very curious and thought-provoking take on how the cycle of life carries on and on. Has indeed there been no change in thirty centuries? I wonder if anyone reading this took up the author's suggestion to open a department to investigate this matter throughout all the lands...

Something to keep in mind, in any case, is the similarity of events repeating through time, some of which was illustrated in the examples of the Arabian and British realms. The ancients long ago commented on this, but too
James Stewart
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Insightful and informative. Although written in the 70s, it seems particularly prescient in it's predictions of what is now our very divided nation. However, it also at times just seems like a more refined version of the same tired conservative gripes that have surfaced since the beginning of civilization: Erosion of traditional values, changes traditional gender roles, and invasion of immigrants will bring the downfall of the society. He he even roundaboutly suggests that a decline in Christian ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
An insightful but concise examination of the patterns consistently emergent in every great society throughout history. Easy to read but thoughtful and surprising detailed for its length. Certainly alarming when you look at it in the context of where our own society lands on the scale of the pattern -- hint: it is not good.

Nothing truly new to me in terms of concept -- I have seen many things reiterating this very idea, it is not an uncommon one -- but an interesting read which got me thinking.
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. He does not try to be 100% sure, he does not try to explain things, he just observes similarities in empires and their falls.

I believe that we are not doomed to repeat those falls, because even while it seems that we are repeating some things over and over again, some things change. But I have to admit, that this book is a very interesting argument, very interesting observation.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent short book, that I would recommend to anyone interested in history, social history, civilizations and society.
The author lays out a very compelling and interesting case for similarities in the rise, conquest, affluence, and ultimately; decline of many of the world's great civilizations.
An easy read that is big on brevity and could almost be made into one uber-long quotable.
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting and concerning essay or thesis on why empires rise and fall, discussing how history is usually used for propaganda in school, painting that empire's enemies as cowards, while depicting their own patriots as heroes, among other things that lead every great nation to its own ruin, regardless of its political structure.
Tie Webb
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent take on the life cycles of empires. The similarities the author puts forth are quite compelling and due indeed seem to fit our current breadNd circuses. Highly recommended. Heck, it is only 52 pages long.
Zoheb Mashiur
Dec 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Rubbish suitable only to confirm the biases of Westerners nostalgic for the past and scared for their future.

The writer belongs to an era mercifully extinct.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: rightism, history
Incredibly uncompelling, good effort.
Brandon Dixon
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sobering perspective that makes it easier to digest the news of today.
Wisdom Learning
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
He convinced me with several of his arguments in regards of the death of Nations/Empires, his ideas really are eye-opening. What he wrote is highly relevant today even more than it was yesterday.
Caspar Vega
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sobering and more relevant now than ever.
Alec Birri
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to understanding the human condition, Glubb is well up there with the likes of Socrates, Yung and Orwell in my opinion.

Western civilisation is no different to any other empire, state, society, plant, animal or human being for that matter - a cradle to grave existence.

Contrary to popular belief, the Roman Empire didn't end because of war, invasion, population displacement or an uprising, the seeds of its demise had been sown long before - by a combination of guilt, self-loathing and
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Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb, KCB, CMG, DSO, OBE, MC (a.k.a. "Glubb Pasha") was a British Army officer who was for many years seconded to the Arab Legion of the Trans-Jordan (later The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan), which he ultimately commanded until dismissed by King Hussein in March 1956. He wrote many books after his retirement, primarily on the history of the Middle East and on Mili ...more
“Decadence is a moral and spiritual disease, resulting from too long a period of wealth and power, producing cynicism, decline of religion, pessimism and frivolity. The citizens of such a nation will no longer make an effort to save themselves, because they are not convinced that anything in life is worth saving.” 14 likes
“Perhaps the most dangerous by-product of the Age of Intellect is the unconscious growth of the idea that the human brain can solve the problems of the world. Even on the low level of practical affairs this is patently untrue. Any small human activity, the local bowls club or the ladies’ luncheon club, requires for its survival a measure of self-sacrifice and service on the part of the members. In a wider national sphere, the survival of the nation depends basically on the loyalty and self‑sacrifice of the citizens. The impression that the situation can be saved by mental cleverness, without unselfishness or human self-dedication, can only lead to collapse.” 12 likes
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