In This Review

A Century's Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World
A Century's Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World
Edited by Robert A. Pastor
Basic Books, 1999, 415 pp

The same great powers that ruled world politics 100 years ago still dominate today. As this superb book argues, however, all have undergone a fundamental transformation. The old goals of territorial conquest and spheres of influence have given way to the pursuit of global markets and economic advancement. A distinguished group of scholars traces these changing goals and strategies of the major states -- France, Germany, Britain, the United States, Japan, and China -- to yield a bounty of insights. Two themes stand out: Japan's and Europe's grudging accommodation of the preeminence of the Cold War superpowers (and later of America alone), and the ongoing search for a benign international order that allows major powers to pursue their domestic agendas. For Germany and Japan, it is a story of turning postwar necessity into virtue. Pastor concludes that this journey has finally led to a new "Liberal Epoch" -- an open system organized around pluralist democracy, markets, and transnational groups. But he does not make it clear whether this new era is built around truly transformed great powers or the long shadow cast by American unipolarity. Nonetheless, the book is an important contribution to this ongoing debate.