An Analysis of Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Ecomonic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-2000, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

An Analysis of Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

Ecomonic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-2000, 1st Edition

By Riley Quinn

Macat Library

108 pages

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Description

Paul Kennedy owes a great deal to the editor who persuaded him to add a final chapter to this study of the factors that contributed to the rise and fall of European powers since the age of Spain’s Philip II. This tailpiece indulged in what was, for an historian, a most unusual activity: it looked into the future. Pondering whether the United States would ultimately suffer the same decline as every imperium that preceded it, it was this chapter that made The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers a dinner party talking point in Washington government circles. In so doing, it elevated Kennedy to the ranks of public intellectuals whose opinions were canvassed on matters of state policy.

From a strictly academic point of view, the virtues of Kennedy's work lie elsewhere, and specifically in his flair for asking the sort of productive questions that characterize a great problem-solver. Kennedy's work is an example of an increasingly rare genre – a work of comparative history that transcends the narrow confines of state– and era–specific studies to identify the common factors that underpin the successes and failures of highly disparate states.

Kennedy's prime contribution is the now-famous concept of ‘imperial overstretch,’ the idea that empires fall largely because the military commitments they acquire during the period of their rise ultimately become too much to sustain once they lose the economic competitive edge that had projected them to dominance in the first place. Earlier historians may have glimpsed this central truth, and even applied it in studies of specific polities, but it took a problem-solver of Kennedy's ability to extend the analysis convincingly across half a millennium.

Table of Contents

Ways in to the Text

Who was Paul Kennedy?

What does The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Say?

Why does The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Matter?

Section 1: Influences

Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context

Module 2: Academic Context

Module 3: The Problem

Module 4: The Author's Contribution

Section 2: Ideas

Module 5: Main Ideas

Module 6: Secondary Ideas

Module 7: Achievement

Module 8: Place in the Author's Work

Section 3: Impact

Module 9: The First Responses

Module 10: The Evolving Debate

Module 11: Impact and Influence Today

Module 12: Where Next?

Glossary of Terms

People Mentioned in the Text

Works Cited

About the Author

Riley Quinn holds master’s degrees in Politics and International Relations from both LSE and the University of Oxford.

About the Series

The Macat Library

Great Works for Critical Thinking

Making the ideas of the world’s great thinkers accessible, affordable, and comprehensible to everybody, everywhere. 

With a growing list of over 180 titles across a broad range of subject areas, Macat works with leading academics from the world’s top universities to produce new analyses that focus on the ideas and the impact of the most influential works ever written. By setting them in context – and looking at the influences that shaped their authors, as well as the responses they provoked – Macat encourages readers to look at these classics and game-changers with fresh eyes.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS000000
HISTORY / General
LIT000000
LITERARY CRITICISM / General
PSY000000
PSYCHOLOGY / General