cover image The World America Made

The World America Made

Robert Kagan. Knopf, $21 (160p) ISBN 978-0-307-96131-0

In his intelligent, cogent, and timely newest (after The Return of History and the End of Dreams), Kagan explores the modern world as fashioned by America%E2%80%94which, despite the various crises around the globe, enjoys higher levels of democracy than ever, and has seen billions of people ushered out of poverty%E2%80%94, and the consequences if the superpower of the last six decades were to take a step back. Asserting that "History shows that world orders are transient," Kagan cites the obvious example of the fall of the Roman Empire to illustrate that even the most assured nations are subject to the great tides of history and politics. And while Kagan avows that all powers must eventually cede their authority to a successor, he maintains that how and when America chooses to do this (it isn't any time soon, in Kagan's estimation) will have the greatest impact on the post-American world. "The irony is that the success of the American world order has made it possible for so many people to believe that it can be transcended, that American power may no longer be necessary to sustain it." Though the author supports a liberal world order and believes one is possible, he goes on to argue that such a world order will not be brought about by a trend in post-nationalism; rather, it will be upheld by liberal nations%E2%80%94America being the foremost among them. 75,000 announced first printing. (Feb.)