Review by Choice Review

Porter (emer., history, Univ. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne) weighs in on the currently fashionable debate about whether the US is now an "empire." Following on Niall Ferguson's Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order (2003) and Colossus: The Price of America's Empire (CH, Nov'04, 42-1836), Porter, an expert on the modern British empire, provides a historical synopsis of British and US imperialism since the 19th century. He illustrates the commonalities and differences between the two and concludes that the US has now transcended previous imperial models to become a "superempire." The book's strengths include Porter's attention to how the terms "imperialism" and "empire" have been used historically, and his invocation to move beyond territorial rule as the sine qua non of defining imperialism. Porter writes in a pithy, accessible manner, though his eagerness for polemics can be wearisome. It is also debatable whether broader historical conclusions on US imperialism can be drawn from the brief record of recent neoconservative policy makers. Students and general readers will find much of profit in this book; specialists might skip the historical synopsis--the British material is abridged from Porter's The Absent-Minded Imperialists (2004) and The Lion's Share (CH, Dec'76; 4th ed., 2004)--and focus on the comparative and more suggestive contemporary chapters. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. D. P. Gorman University of Waterloo

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