Sobering reading for geopolitics mavens and Risk aficionados alike, offering no likely path beyond decline and fall.

IN THE SHADOWS OF THE AMERICAN CENTURY

THE RISE AND DECLINE OF US GLOBAL POWER

If you’re American and want to rule the world, get to work immediately. By McCoy’s (History/Univ. of Wisconsin; Policing America's Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, 2009, etc.) reckoning, you’ve only got a few years left.

The so-called American century has run longer than 100 years. It began, the author argues, in 1898, when the U.S. assumed colonial territories formerly controlled by Spain, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines. It extended throughout the industrialized 20th century and the Cold War but then faltered in the “bid to extend that hegemony deep into the twenty-first century through a fusion of cyberwar, space warfare, trade pacts, and military alliances.” Considering that the current occupant of the White House has repudiated such pacts and alliances, it would seem that there are plenty of hard-power options left in terms of sheer military might, but that doesn’t get the job done alone. That repudiation, however, is not unnatural. For as long as America has had an empire—and McCoy does not shy from calling it that—there has been an uneasiness, a “profound, persistent ambiguity” about whether a putatively democratic republic ought to be controlling distant countries, whether militarily or through soft-power paths. Meanwhile, our position abroad has been weakened by numerous missteps, as when, in one of the author’s examples, the troop surge in Afghanistan had the unintended consequence of alienating country people and pushing them into the arms of a now-resurgent Taliban. McCoy closes with several scenarios for how American hegemony and superpower dominance will fade—and, he urges, “every significant trend points toward a striking decline in American global power by 2030.” The likeliest beneficiary would be China, he adds, which makes war a near inevitability. If only a dozen or so years are left, then it’s time to start preparing for a post-imperial world—which is unlikely to happen, given the present “inward looking” leadership.

Sobering reading for geopolitics mavens and Risk aficionados alike, offering no likely path beyond decline and fall.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60846-773-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Haymarket Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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