Day of Empire

Day of Empire

How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance--and Why They Fall

Book - 2007
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Historians have long debated the rise and fall of empires. To date, however, no one has studied the far rarer phenomenon of hyperpowers--those few societies that amassed such extraordinary military and economic might that they essentially dominated the world. Here, globalization expert Chua explains how hyperpowers rise and why they fall. She examines history's hyperpowers--Persia, Rome, Tang China, the Mongols, the Dutch, the British, and the United States--and reveals the reasons behind their success, as well as the roots of their ultimate demise. For all their differences, she argues, every one of these world-dominant powers was, at least by the standards of its time, extraordinarily pluralistic and tolerant, succeeding by harnessing the skills and energies of individuals from very different backgrounds. But Chua also uncovers a great historical irony: in virtually every instance, multicultural tolerance eventually sowed the seeds of decline, and diversity became a liability.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2007.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780385512848
Branch Call Number: 327.112 Chua 12/2007
Characteristics: xxxiv, 396 p. ;,25 cm.

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May 22, 2017

Very interesting book examining Empires historically. The author uses the term hyperpowers to explain her thesis. “This is a book about hyperpowers—not great powers, not even superpowers, but hyperpowers.” (p. xx) “The remarkably few societies—barely more than a handful—that amassed such extraordinary military and economic might that they essentially dominated the world.” (p. xxi) “For all their enormous differences, every single hyperpower in history—was at least by the standards of its time, extraordinarily pluralistic and tolerant during its rise to preeminence. Indeed, in every case tolerance was indispensable to the achievement of hegemony. Just as striking, the decline of empire has repeatedly coincided with intolerance, xenophobia, and calls for racial, religious, or ethnic “purity.” But here’s the catch: It was also tolerance that sowed the seeds of decline. In virtually every case, tolerance eventually hit a tipping point, triggering conflict, hatred, and violence.” (p. xxi) “The potency of intolerance is undeniable. There may be no force on earth so galvanizing, so identity-creating as racist nationalism—unless perhaps it is religious fundamentalism of the jihadist variety. Yet fortunately for the world, the same elements that make these ideologies so ferociously mobilizing also set the limits on their reach.” (p. 284) The author breaks down the various empires chronologically:

Part I: The Tolerance of Barbarians
The Great Persian Empire from Cyrus to Alexander
Tolerance in Rome’s High Empire
China’s Golden Age
The Great Mongol Empire

Part II: The Enlightening of Tolerance
The “Purificaton” of Medieval Spain
The Dtch World Empire
Tolerance and Intolerance in the East (the Ottoman, Ming and Mughal Empires)
The British Empire

Part III: The Future of World Dominance
The American Hyperpower
The Rise and Fall of the Axis Powers
The Challengers (China, EU, India)

I found her thesis very interesting, well documented and food for thought and perhaps insight or warning for the future hegemonies.

Apr 10, 2014

What a silly, highly tenuous, piece of mindless fluff from another Yale academic, naturally! A reader would be much better served reading Prof. Joseph Tainter's short paper on complexity and sustainability, plus his book on the Collapse of Complex Societies.


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