This is a far-reaching "study of the recurring patterns and problems of the political order in relation to the unique problems of the nuclear age". Dr. Niebuhr begins by examining the political structure of Russia and the United States, nations which have achieved imperial power and yet condemn imperialism -- for different reasons. He sees Russian Communism as having effectively reconstructed, in utopian terms, the oldest imperialism in history. He then considers the philosophies of authority in the Islamic and Christian empires and the development of dominion and community particularly in Western Christendom in order to disclose both the difference and the similarities between traditional communities and modern democracies. He refutes the 18th century notion that the authority of government is supplied in the modern world purely by rational consent and he discusses the foreign policy failures of liberal democracy, based on a "vague universalism" and consideration for the "community of mankind" which leaves little room for the "configurations of power and authority which develop in history between the nation and the universal community". He regards as the "lesser culprits of history" the "bland fanatics of western civilization who see the highly contingent achievement of our culture as the final form and norm of human existence" and whose policies are exemplified in the irrelevant dogmatism of the West in the Middle East. For the student of politics.