My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In Colossus, Niall Ferguson explores the complex questions of America’s role and power in the world. Ferguson argues that America is an empire and has historically acted in an imperial nature. To support his controversial thesis, Ferguson offers political and economic analysis of both current and historical events that support his claim.
Ferguson splits his book into two parts– “Rise”, where he discusses the origins of America’s power, and “Fall”, where he examines the potential challenges to the United States in the future. Ferguson argues that America’s rise to the status of a superpower was the result of what he calls “The Imperialism of Anti-Imperialism,” where America gained territory and global influence as the result of trying to defeat more obvious imperial powers, such as the Soviet Union and the British Empire. He claims this is why many Americans today deny that America has any form of imperial ambitions. In “Fall” Ferguson addresses the potential challenges to American power, such as the possibility of a united European Union. He also tell readers that he believes economic downturns and recessions are the largest problem for America, something that is very relevant in the present day.
While Ferguson’s claims and arguments are made clear throughout the chapters of Colossus, I found his language and writing style to be somewhat complicated, as it uses more advanced vocabulary, and does not flow like a traditional novel. Additionally, Ferguson’s effort to use data to support his arguments creates many statistics and charts that are somewhat confusing–most notably in chapters related to economics. These factors may be unappealing for some readers, especially those who prefer fiction books, and I could understand those who find it dry.
For those interested in history or current events, especially those interested in the motives and context of America’s recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Colossus is an important and interesting book to reader. Despite this, I believe that other types of readers would also find it interesting, as Ferguson’s thesis deals with issues relevant to both Americans and people around the world. ~ Student: Alexander C.