Thomas Hobbes laid the theoretical groundwork of the nation-state in Leviathan, his tough-minded treatise of 1651. Leviathan 2.0 updates this classic account to explain how modern statehood took shape between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, before it unraveled into the political uncertainty that persists today.
Modern states were far from immune to the modernizing forces of war, technology, and ideology. From 1845 to 1880, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Argentina were all reconstituted through territorial violence. Europe witnessed the unification of Germany and Italy, while Asian nations such as Japan tried to mitigate foreign incursions through state-building reforms. A global wave of revolution at the turn of the century pushed the modernization process further in China, Russia, Iran, and Ottoman Turkey. By the late 1930s, with the rise of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the momentum of history seemed to shift toward war-glorifying totalitarian states. But several variants of the modern state survived World War II: the welfare states of Western democracies; single-party socialist governments; and governments dominated by the military, especially prevalent in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.
Toward the end of the twentieth century, all of these forms stood in growing tension with the transformative influences of globalized capitalism. Modern statehood recreated itself in many ways, Charles S. Maier concludes, but finally had to adopt a precarious equilibrium with ever more powerful economic forces.
From the vantage point of the United States or Western Europe, the
1970s was a time of troubles: economic “stagflation,” political
scandal, and global turmoil. Yet from an international perspective it
was a seminal decade, one that brought the reintegration of the world
after the great divisions of the mid-twentieth century. It was the
1970s that introduced the world to the phenomenon of “globalization,”
as networks of interdependence bound peoples and societies in new and
The 1970s saw the breakdown of the postwar economic order and
the advent of floating currencies and free capital movements. Non-state
actors rose to prominence while the authority of the superpowers
diminished. Transnational issues such as environmental protection,
population control, and human rights attracted unprecedented attention.
The decade transformed international politics, ending the era of
bipolarity and launching two great revolutions that would have
repercussions in the twenty-first century: the Iranian theocratic
revolution and the Chinese market revolution.
The Shock of the Global examines the large-scale structural
upheaval of the 1970s by transcending the standard frameworks of
national borders and superpower relations. It reveals for the first
time an international system in the throes of enduring transformations.
Contemporary America, with its unparalleled armaments and ambition, seems to many commentators a new empire. Others angrily reject the designation. What stakes would being an empire have for our identity at home and our role abroad? In Among Empires, a preeminent American historian addresses these issues in light of the history of empires since antiquity. Gathering a remarkable array of evidence—from Roman, Ottoman, Moghul, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and British experience—Maier outlines the essentials of empire throughout history. He then explores the exercise of U.S. power in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, carefully analyzing its economic and strategic sources and the nation's relationship to predecessors and rivals.