McCoy (Beer of Broadway Fame), professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, portrays America, in its 20th-century rise to global governance, as Athenian in its ability to forge alliances, Roman in its emphasis on military superiority, and British in its vision of creating a global culture—one marked by a “restless, relentless quest for technological innovation.” As the U.S. attempts to maintain global stability in a context of its waning power, its approach to this task has incorporated three elements. A “surveillance state of unprecedented power” and global dimension complements an “advanced cyberwar capacity” focused on providing information to the military. Underpinning both is a sovereign “defiance of international law” linked to an arrogation of moral leadership. That contradiction may prove to be what undermines American global hegemony, concludes McCoy. He describes a series of scenarios and the ways they could play out to end the American century, among them a rise of “backdoor empires,” regional power blocs built around rising nations; a fostering of domestic divisions by relative and absolute U.S. economic decline; an escalation into disaster of regional crises; an outbreak of a full-blown world war due to a confrontation with China; and a global catastrophe caused by climate change. Even less-apocalyptic events point to “a striking decline in American global power by 2030.” McCoy postulates a grim future—but readers will be split on whether his vision represents an accurate forecast or a hyperbolic one. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2017 Release date: 09/01/2017 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.