Book Review: Great Powers and the Quest for Hegemony: The World Order since 1500


by Jeremy Black

New York/London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2008. Pp. x, 272. Notes, biblio., index. $41.95 paper. ISBN:0415395801

In Great Powers and the Quest for Hegemony, Jeremy Black, prolific student of grand strategy and war, takes a critical look at Paul Kennedy's 1988 classic, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

Opening by noting that Kennedy's book not only manifests a rather extreme "Eurocentrism," but has a very pronounced Anglo-American bias, and a strong tendency toward a Mahanian and technocratic view of the nature of great power status, Black remind us that that beyond Kennedy?s Western ?universe,? several states attained and maintained great power status for protracted periods, such as China and the Ottoman Empire into the early nineteenth century, as well Safavid Persia and Mughal India. 

He then goes on to review Kennedy's characteristics of Great Powers, comparing the Euro-American states with these empies.  In the process, he critiques what is perhaps Kennedy's most cited concept, that "over reach" is the principal cause of the collapse of great powers, observing that, for example, during the French Wars Britain was arguably as "over reached" as any great power in history. 

A valuable book for anyone interested in the rise and fall of the great powers.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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