THE EMPIRE AND THE FIVE KINGS by Bernard-Henri Lévy

THE EMPIRE AND THE FIVE KINGS

America's Abdication and the Fate of the World
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Without America’s strength and influence, five former empires may vie for global power.

French philosopher, activist, and documentary filmmaker Lévy (The Genius of Judaism, 2017, etc.), a self-described “committed intellectual,” makes a compelling case that America’s isolationism has created a “great vacuum” that may incite aggressive political ambitions in five powers “bent on redrawing, in their favor, the global map of authority and power.” Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, and radical Sunni Islam are beginning “to stir again, to set themselves in motion, and, given the world newly exposed by the American withdrawal…to recommence the assault on history.” For Lévy, America stands as an exceptional nation whose “political, mythological, and symbolic inheritance” impels it to carry the torch of democracy “into dark lands.” Unlike Woodrow Wilson in 1917 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, the last two presidents have turned away from European alliances: Barack Obama favored forging ties with Asia and refused to support France when Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in Syria; Trump seemingly wants to withdraw from everything. The author also blames the decline of Western influence on “the digitization of the world,” where all “expressions of belief are of equal value,” an idea contorted by Trump into the notion of fake news. “What for so long had been known as ‘the truth,’ ” Lévy writes, “is really a shifting shadow.” Despite his admiration for Persian and Arab civilization and Russia’s great literature, the author condemns the five empires for their attraction to Nazism, anti-Semitism, fascism, and totalitarianism. In 1935, notes the author, Persia changed its name to Iran—“which, in Farsi, means ‘land of the Aryans’ ”—in a gesture of alignment with Hitlerism. Despite his dire warning, Lévy offers cautious hope: The five entities are economically and politically weak, and they lack a vision for a revival of culture and science, instead focusing, morbidly, on past grandeur.

An erudite and impassioned call for the West to retake the lead in championing liberty.

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-20301-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2018




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