In This Review
Lessons of Empire: Imperial Histories and American Power

Lessons of Empire: Imperial Histories and American Power

Edited by Craig Calhoun, Frederick Cooper, and Kevin W. Moor

New Press, 2006, 352 pp.
Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors

Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors

By Charles S. Maier

Harvard University Press, 2006, 384 pp.

Do past empires hold lessons for U.S. foreign policy today? Many people evidently think so, as the recent flood of books and articles purporting to explain what those lessons are attests. These two latest examples of the genre come from authors with impeccable scholarly credentials. But like so much of this literature, their efforts yield little payoff.

The distinguished contributors whose writings are assembled by the Social Science Research Council (ssrc) in Lessons of Empire disagree on what an empire is, whether the United States is one, whether scholars have anything to say to policymakers, and even whether history

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  • Alexander J. Motyl is Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University- Newark and the author of Imperial Ends: The Decline, Collapse, and Revival of Empires.
  • More By Alexander J. Motyl