When the first edition of Empires Apart was published in 2009 the British and Indian editions received overwhelmingly positive reviews.
It is fair to say that reaction to the US edition, which had been ‘adjusted’ by the publisher, was more mixed. The Midwest Book Review called it “remarkable, scholarly and educational” but others responded less enthusiastically. One reader commented that I was so stupid that I believed that we are all descended from monkeys – thus proving that not everyone has evolved very far!
To such people the idea that America could be described as “imperial” was absurd.
When the second edition came out change was in the air: President Obama was in the White House and Russia seemed to have accepted the loss of empire signified by the break-up of the Soviet Union. Fukuyama’s assertion that history had ended may have seemed plausible. But had America and Russia’s imperial dreams really evaporated?
The events of 2018 demonstrated conclusively that the central thesis of Empires Apart still holds. Russia and America act, and have always acted, as imperial powers. Russian military interventions in Ukraine and Syria and President Trump’s America First rhetoric were only the most visible signs that the US and Russia were still determined to impose their national interests on the rest of the world. Perhaps a third edition should be titled Trump, Putin and the Lessons of History.