Last Days of the American Empire

Philip Towle

  • Armageddon? Essays 1983-1987 by Gore Vidal
    Deutsch, 244 pp, £11.95, November 1987, ISBN 0 233 98156 X
  • Empire by Gore Vidal
    Deutsch, 587 pp, £11.95, November 1987, ISBN 0 233 98152 7
  • The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 by Paul Kennedy
    Unwin Hyman, 677 pp, £18.95, March 1988, ISBN 0 04 909019 4

The American novelist living in Europe and the British historian living in America are in broad agreement. According to Gore Vidal, the American Empire died in September 1985 when the country became a debtor, because ‘like most modern empires, ours rested not so much on military prowess as on economic primacy.’ The last chapters of Paul Kennedy’s epic study suggest that American power is subsiding relative to other powers rather than dying.

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