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The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (Anglais) Broché – 15 janvier 1989


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About national and international power in the "modern" or Post Renaissance period. Explains how the various powers have risen and fallen over the 5 centuries since the formation of the "new monarchies" in W. Europe.


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  • Broché: 704 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage (15 janvier 1989)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0679720197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679720195
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,1 x 3,1 x 20,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
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In the year 1500, the date chosen by numerous scholars to mark the divide between modern and pre-modern times, it was by no means obvious to the inhabitants of Europe that their continent was poised to dominate much of the rest of the earth. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index
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4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par FrKurt Messick TOP 1000 COMMENTATEURS le 29 décembre 2005
Format: Broché
History is a wonderful study, a professor of mine once commented, of the interlocking circles of influence, whereby one can find often that an obscure arranged marriage in the Dark Ages could be responsible for a thermonuclear exchange or a hostile corporate takeover today.
Of course, he was exaggerating, but only by a matter of degrees. History is the study of the interconnexions of human beings in their actions over time, and to that end, the more we understand of the past, the better chance we have of surviving and flourishing into the future.
Paul Kennedy's book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers is an insightful, sweeping examination of the centuries of the growth and dominance and, lately, relative decline of the European powers over the rest of the globe. To a lesser extent (because they were lesser players) he draws in Asian, and finally, American players, although as will be seen, they began to play the game according to the European rules.
He pays particular attention to the economic and military aspects of the motivations of national and ethnic decision-making; so often history (or at least popular history) has portrayed such as purely political, religious (at least until the last few centuries), or royal-family intrigues. Kennedy explores the forgotten aspects in a popular format; hence the question (as the Gulf War is almost universally recognised as, in reality, a war of economic necessity rather than for political or moral purpose, which tended to be added later)--were the Hapsburgs responsible? Rather, that is a way of asking, are the same motivations that were at play with Great Power relationships in 1500 still at play today? Have we learned anything?
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Aidan Harrington le 17 décembre 2010
Format: Broché
Excellent livre qui nous amène dans les détails les plus lointaines de notre histoire. A relire !
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132 internautes sur 136 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Very important information 30 janvier 2004
Par DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
As the relative strengths of leading nations in world affairs never remains constant, there is an optimum balance between wealth creation and military strength over the long term. Time and again the leading power believed that it could neglect wealth production in favor of military adventures but others waiting in the wings closed the gap, the relative strength was eroded and a long, slow decline of the once-leading power followed. The rise of Europe was not obvious in 1500 considering Ming China, the Ottoman Empire, the Mogul Empire, Muscovy and Tokugawa Japan which were well organized, had centralized authority and insisted on uniformity of practice and belief. European knowledge of the Orient was fragmentary and often erroneous, although the image of fabulous wealth, and vast armies was reasonably accurate. Constantinople fell in 1453 and the Ottoman Turks were pressing towards Budapest and Vienna. Compared with the world of Islam, Europe was behind culturally, technologically and militarily. Few at that point would have predicted that Europe would soon be at the top of the pack.
Warlike rivalries between European states stimulated advances, economic growth and military effectiveness. The Habsburg bid for power was ultimately unsuccessful because other European states worked together, the Habsburgs overextended in repeated conflicts during which they became militarily top heavy upon a weakening economic base. The other European states managed a better balance between wealth creation and military power. The power struggles between 1600 and 1815 were more complicated as Spain and the Netherlands declined while France, Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia rose to dominate diplomacy, and warfare. Britain gained an advantage by creating an advanced banking and credit system and, together with Russia had the capacity to intervene while being geographically sheltered from the center of conflict. Britain also started the industrial revolution before the others, providing a great wealth creation advantage. For a century after 1815 no single nation was able to make a bid for domination, allowing Britain to rise to its zenith in naval, colonial and commercial terms based on its virtual monopoly of steam-driven industrial production. Industrialization spread in the second half of the 19th century tilting the balance of power but also introduced more complicated and expensive weaponry that transformed the nature of war and made the world less stable and more complex. The European Great Powers declined while the US and Russia moved to the forefront. Germany was the only European country to stay with the future world powers; Japan was intent only on domination in East Asia and Britain, with its declining relative position, found it more difficult to defend its global interests. World War I was an exhausting struggle that left Europe and Russia weakened, Japan better off and the US indisputably the strongest power in the world. However, US and Russian isolationism allowed France and Britain to remain center-stage diplomatically - a position they did not justify in power terms - but by the 1930s Italy, Japan and Germany became challengers while Russia was becoming an industrial superpower. World War II eclipsed France, irretrievably weakened Britain, brought defeat to the Axis nations and left a bipolar world with military and economic resources roughly in balance.
Most of the book is devoted to tracing these events but the really interesting part of the book lies in the last two chapters where nuclear weapons, long-distance delivery systems and the arms race between the US and Russia changed the strategic and diplomatic landscape. But the global productive balances changed faster than ever before with the EU now the world's largest trading unit, China leaping forward, and Japan experiencing phenomenal economic growth. The US and Russian growth rates have been sluggish and their share of global production and wealth have shrunk dramatically since 1960. In economic terms we are in a multipolar world once again with five large power centers - China, Japan, the EU, the Soviet Union and the US - grappling with the age-old task of relating national means to national ends. Although the US appears to be supreme, the history of the rise and fall of great powers has in no way come to a full stop. Great powers in relative decline instinctively respond by spending more on security and thereby divert potential investment resources, compounding their long-term dilemma. Human kind makes its own history but within certain natural laws which become clear as the reader travels through this absorbing narrative.
In Chapter 8 Kennedy says: "What follows is speculation rather than history, therefore it is based upon the plausible assumption that these broad trends of the past five centuries are likely to continue." But certain trends are firmly in place. In 1951 Japan's GNP was 1/3 of Britain and 1/20 of the US; three decades later it was three times Britain and half the US. Japan has grown to be the world's biggest creditor nation while the US has changed from being the world's biggest creditor nation to the world's biggest debtor nation. This book was written before the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the fall of communism so the projection is outdated. Nevertheless the grand sweep of history presented lends support to Kupchan's argument in 'The End of the American Era' that the defining element of the global system is the distribution of power, not democracy, culture, globalization, or anything else. Add to that more recent projects that by 2020 China will be the largest world economy and that seven of the ten biggest economies will lie in Asia and the picture of the future becomes clearer. If you have the gut feeling that the US has over extended itself militarily compared to its economic base and its position in relation to its competitors, this book will make clear your worst fears.
57 internautes sur 64 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A classic - unpleasant facts we have to face 10 juillet 2006
Par Ami Isseroff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Kennedy's "Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" is a classic that should rank with the great books and great ideas of the 20th century. Anyone who wants to understand what has happened in history, and what will most likely happen, should read this book.

Great theories and great books are often so because they state, in a convincing way obvious facts that we want to ignore because they are inconvenient or unflattering. Sigmund Freud's Psychopathology of everyday life and "Interpretation of Dreams" shocked the Victorian world by pointing out that a lot of human behavior is about sex. Darwin's "Origin of Species" and "Descent of Man" was a shocker because it pointed out that we are animals, descended from animals. Karl Marx's contribution, shorn of polemics, was to point out the importance of economics in history and ideology.

Kennedy amasses considerable evidence for the unattractive theory that wars are won by economic might (and not because providence is on the side of the "good guys"), that all empires are mortal, and that empires can kill themselves by economic over-extension.

He correctly predicted the economic problems of the Soviet Union, before it was obvious to all, and he predicted the over extension and deficit spending that would could the lot of the US in the future - and are the lot of the US in Iraq. This is not a popular thesis.

Every historian from Thucydides, and Polybius to Gibbon, Toynbee and Spengler has understood that empires are "mortal." Yet every empire and every citizen of every empire insisted that their empire was the "exception" that could never be challenged and never fail. That is what makes many uncomfortable about this book, but it cannot be ignored.

It is really beside the point to say that it was written nearly two decades ago and is therefore "out of date." "The Origin of Species" was written nearly 150 years ago and is certainly "out of date" and "mistaken" in many details, but it is absurd to claim it should not be read for that reason. When Kennedy describes the dilemma faced by Spain in maintaining its costly presence in Flanders, he is describing essentially the same problems and considerations that face the USA in deciding whether to continue the war in Iraq.

Even if you think the US is exempt from the laws of history for some reason, you cannot ignore this book.
142 internautes sur 167 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Great theory, but ... book badly in need of updating 7 décembre 2000
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The problem with this book (and maybe why reviews are so divergent) is that it tries to be two different things. It succeeds as a historical narrative about the development of various western powers. The Hapsburgs, Napoleonic France, Czarist Russia, Prussia, Germany, and the British Empire are all covered. The Soviet Union, Japan and the U.S. come in for later treatment. The book traces the influence of finance, geography, politics and innovations and shows how advantages in each were strategically applied. It excells in describing the emergence of the western world from Empires and rising and falling 'Great' and 'Middle' powers involved in various alliances and coalition wars, through to the post Vietnam era of a bipolar world ruled by two Superpowers. Where the book fails is in economic forecasting specifically as it relates to the U.S. today.
Four fifths of the book is good, as it is devoted to the development of Kennedys' theory, which is - economic wealth and military power is relative. Relative in terms of its distribution among nations and relative within a nation over time. Indeed, the U.K. of the 1980's and today,(a second rank power in comparison with the U.S and Japan) is wealthier in absolute terms than the huge British Empire of the late 19th century. The idea that that there is a strong relationship between economic power and military might, which seems obvious, is also illustrated with historical examples. What is less obvious (until shown by the author) are the variations on this theme. For example, an economic power may not also be a military power at the same time (Japan in the 1980's). There is also a tendency for declining economic powers to spend very heavily on the military, as their sense of security decreases (Soviet Union and U.S in the 1980's). It is this tendency the author states, that is a symptom of what is called 'imperial overstretch' and is a characteristic of ALL declining great powers. It is this argument and it's development in the last chapter, 'To the Twenty-first Century', where the book shows how outdated it is.
To be fair, Kennedy is very clear in that he knows that writing about trends and projecting how they will play out in the future is NOT history. He states that "many a final chapter in works dealing with contemporary affairs has to be changed, only a few years later, in the wisdom of hindsight; it will be surprising if this present chapter survives unscathed". That was the most accurate statement in the last chapter. It is ironic that a history book has been treated so badly by history, but when you stop and think about all the events that have happened since the book was originally published in 1987, it's not so surprising.
Obviously there is no analysis of the impact of the end of the Cold War, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany and most significantly from an economic point of view, the use of the 'peace dividend' to reinvigorate formerly heavily militarized economies. In general it is mostly a good book that suffers at the end from a brave but badly off target projection of what the 1990's had in store for the only remaining 'Great Power'.
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Misunderstood Theory but Good History and Reference 17 avril 2003
Par RenegadeScholar.com - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This book is a bit dated by riding the 1980s fad of American declinism but not in the way most critics suggest. Kennedy did not help himself by his 1987 cover which showed Uncle Sam stepping down to make room for a rising Japan. However, many critical reviews apparently resulted from pontificators looking at the cover art and neglecting to read that stuff between the covers carefully. Although Nye (1990) later argued that US declinism was exaggerated by an unwarranted expectation that the US should retain its unnatural post-WWII apex, Kennedy himself suggested this 3 years earlier. Kennedy's "rise and fall" is not only boom and bust but also tidal ebbs and flows in relative power over time. Long before Nye, Kennedy described recent US "decline" as a return to its "natural" level and emphatically stated, "this reference to historical patterns does not imply that the United States is destined to shrink to the relative obscurity of former leading powers such as Spain or the Netherlands, or to disintegrate like the Roman and Austro-Hungarian empires" (1987 p.533, Kennedy's italics). Kennedy merely stated that the US could wane if it didn't mind itself.
Theoretically, Kennedy took a systemic view over the "long cycle" to argue that broad patterns of financial and economic development (the primary independent variables, in academic jargon) determine the ebbs and flows of relative power (p.xv-xvi). For instance, he argued that although a US defeat at Midway in 1942 certainly would have altered the next year of the war, it would not have affected the final result (p.353). This is a systemic explanation which downplays the roles of individuals in the long-term. Fans of individual level analysis can take solace in a greater role for individuals in the short-term, and of individuals' ability to navigate within systemic constraints (p.540). Nonetheless, theory is not the strong point of the book. For instance, his attempt to explain the "constantly upward spiral" of the West as due to the innovation caused by competitive quarrels among small, European kingdoms and city-states, in contrast to the expansive unitary states of Asia (p.xvi-xvii), is troubled. Not only could one dispute the monolithic Asia characterization, but his reason does not explain why the warring American city-states did not result in Mayans, Aztecs and Incans as permanent members of the UN Security Council. His Europe-Asia dichotomy appears to be a difference misconstrued as a causal explanation.
Instead of theory, the strength of this book is as a history. For instance, it shows that the majority of the world's manufacturing output was produced by the "Third World" as late as 1830, at which time per capita industrialization in continental Europe was closer to India's level than to Britain's level (p.149). Remember the other day when you couldn't quite recollect the exact figure for the Dutch military budget in 1622? This book would have saved you (it was 13.4 million Florins (p.69)). Even if many of the measures are estimates, I feel compelled to like a book which tells me the energy consumption of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1890 (19.7 million metric tons of coal equivalent (p.201)) or the per capita income of Bukovina in 1910 (310 Crowns (p.216)).
24 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Too Early to Tell whether Kennedy's On the Money 16 septembre 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This review is, perhaps, best characterized as a response to Won Joon Choe's review. Choe makes several good points about two of the weaknesses in Kennedy's argument. His central thesis that imperial overreach leads to the decline of an empire, and he sees the U.S. in state of relative decline. Choe points out that Kennedy should not rely so heavily on his analogy between the U.S.' current position and Britian's former position in the world. Choe also points out that the U.S. has not relinquished and will not relinquish its global primacy for the foreseeable future. These two criticisms of Kennedy's book are valid, in my opinion. However, this is not to say that Kennedy is entirely wrong. I think it is more useful to construe Kennedy's work as attempt to work through the fine details of why empires arise in the first place and some of the possible reasons why they may tumble. In fact, to assert that imperial overreach is "the" reason why empires fall is also an oversimplification of Kennedy's argument. It is possible that the U.S. is in a state of relative decline and may lose its global preeminence-in an hundred years or more. Only time will be able to confirm or disprove Kennedy's work. And Choe should be wary about quickly jumping on the Fukuyama bandwagon. Fukuyama's conception of the triumph of liberalism is far too premature to even begin asserting, though it is an evocative thought. The central thesis to his book is far more difficult to hold than Kennedy's.
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