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Endless Empire
Spain’s Retreat, Europe’s Eclipse, America’s Decline
Edited by Alfred W. McCoy, Josep M. Fradera, and Stephen Jacobson

As the American century of global dominion draws to a close, the signs of geopolitical change are gathering like thunderheads on the horizon. Is the United States poised at the brink of decline? What can the downfall of European empires tell us about America’s future as a superpower?

Throughout four millennia of recorded history there has been no end to empire, but instead an endless succession of empires. After five centuries of sustained expansion, the half-dozen European powers that ruled half of humanity collapsed with stunning speed after World War II, creating a hundred emerging nations in Asia and Africa. Amid this imperial transition, the United States became the new global hegemon, dominating this world order with an array of power that closely resembled that of its European predecessors.

As Brazil, Russia, India, China, and the European Union now rise in global influence, twenty leading historians from four continents take a timely look backward and forward to discover patterns of eclipse in past empires that are already shaping a decline in U.S. global power, including:

  • erosion of economic and fiscal strength needed for military power on a global scale
  • misuse of military power through micro-military misadventures
  • breakdown of alliances among major powers
  • weakened controls over the subordinate elites critical for any empire’s exercise of global power
  • insufficient technological innovation to sustain global force projection.


Alfred W. McCoy Josep M. Fradera Stephen Jacobson

Alfred W. McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and author of Policing America’s Empire. Josep M. Fradera is professor of history at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, and author of many books on Spanish colonial history, including Colonias para después de un imperio. Stephen Jacobson is associate professor of history at Pompeu Fabra and author of Catalonia’s Advocates.

Oliver Stone discusses the concluding chapter of the volume, Alfred W. McCoy’s “Imperial Illusions: Information Infrastructure and the Future of U.S. Global Power.” McCoy’s argument is featured in the Showtime series Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States.


See also the U.S. Empire Project .





“A rich, globally vast portrait of imperial decline that should interest scholars engaged in any aspect of history touched by empire’s receding, relentlessly grasping tendrils.”
H-Net Reviews

“Without doubt an important contribution to world diplomacy and a credit to the University of Wisconsin Press for publishing it.”
Red Wing Republican Eagle

“An exceptionally comprehensive look at empire in a genuinely global context. The scope and sophistication of these essays are unequaled anywhere.”
—Franklin W. Knight, Johns Hopkins University

“A rich combination of historical expertise, comparative perspective, and engagement with contemporary trends at the outset of the twenty-first century. It should be a foundational text and point of reference for teaching and scholarship on imperial histories and on American power in today’s world.”
—John Sidel, London School of Economics



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June 2012
LC: 2012010172
492 pp.   6 x 9
29 b/w illus.

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Paper $29.95 a
ISBN 978-0-299-29024-5
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