The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation
  • The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation
  • The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation

The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation

by Strobe Talbott
     
 

This is the saga of how the most ambitious of big ideas-that a world made up of many nations can govern itself peacefully-has played out over the millennia. Humankind's "Great Experiment" goes back to the most ancient of days-to the Garden of Eden-and into the present, with an eye to the future. This dramatic narrative of breathtaking scope and riveting focus puts the… See more details below

Overview

This is the saga of how the most ambitious of big ideas-that a world made up of many nations can govern itself peacefully-has played out over the millennia. Humankind's "Great Experiment" goes back to the most ancient of days-to the Garden of Eden-and into the present, with an eye to the future. This dramatic narrative of breathtaking scope and riveting focus puts the "story" back into history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Talbott, deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration, makes an eloquent but predictable appeal for progress toward "global governance" under the auspices of the United Nations, which he sees as humanity's destined path since tribes began forming states, and since states have sought an alternative to international anarchy. The major obstacle to the new order, according to Talbott (Engaging India), is the United States, whose massive power and individualist principles encourage its citizens to regard limiting national authority as unnatural. In the face of cultural resistance, however, presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton regarded some form of world authority as both a natural development in a nuclear era and a useful element of U.S. foreign policy. The villain of the piece, not surprisingly, is George W. Bush, who Talbott claims asserted America's right to make and enforce rules for other nations, rejected facts that did not support his preconceptions and ignored advice from more experienced foreign-policy hands. The resulting havoc wrought by "triumphalism" and "evangelism," according to the author, will require the careful attention of wiser, more temperate people, presumably in a Democratic administration. While the roots of Talbott's argument run deep, it echoes so much conventional wisdom on the subject that its impact is likely to be minimal. (Jan.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Trying to get a rogue state to behave the way one likes is a messy business. It's a touch easier when the nations of the world join you. It's near impossible when you try to go it alone. Thus, in a nutshell, is the arc of the latest exercise in geopolitics by former Clinton Deputy Secretary of State and current Brookings Institution president Talbott (Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb, 2004, etc.), a fluent, smart observer of the international scene. The presumed premise of the book isn't exactly earth-shattering. The growth of the nation-state from its clannish and tribal origins has been well documented in thousands of previous studies, though the historically minded reader may well enjoy recalling the many successes of the medieval Hanseatic League, committed to the notion of international peace in the interest of commerce. It is always useful, too, to be reminded why the United Nations came into being and of the "lofty but elusive goals" it is meant to pursue and sometimes attains. Yet all of that is prelude to the heart of Talbott's argument, a withering assessment of current U.S. foreign policy. The author admits to not liking Bush and recounts Bush's clear dislike of him. Thus, while there is no danger of Greenspanian out-of-left-field revelations, neither is there reason to expect Talbott to find much right with the way things are going. He doesn't. He does turn in a few nice surprises, though, including an account of a meeting with Pentagon top brass in which the absence of multilateralism is sorely missed, a solid appreciation for Bush the Elder as just the sort of multilateralist that ought to be missed and a sharp study of the deep dislike for former UNambassador Josh Bolton within the state department. Bush's policies, Talbott concludes, are "an aberration in the evolution of American internationalism," likely to be corrected but still liable to do much harm to the nation and the world. This book makes for lucid dissent. Agent: Esther Newberg/ICM
From the Publisher
"With the sweep of a historian and the sure hand of a man who has been in the arena, Strobe Talbott has given us a brilliant, provocative, and thoughtful book about the most important questions of our time." — Jon Meacham, author of Franklin and Winston and American Gospel

"The Great Experiment is a magisterial work — a rare combination of sweeping historical narrative with personal insight, wisdom, and analytic brilliance. It should be a call to action for leaders at the highest level." — Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

"Both a witness to history and a shaper of it, Talbott has written a vivid and vital reckoning of what we need to manage and contain global threats." — Samantha Power, author of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

"A crucially important book for our times and the debate on how to deal with challenges ranging from climate change to terrorism to pandemics." — Dennis Ross, author of Statecraft: And How to Restore America's Standing in the World

"A book of stunning breadth, analyzing past efforts at transcending isolation and conflict and explaining the inescapable need for global cooperation. A fast-moving survey, elegantly accessible with illuminating autobiographical touches. A rare feat for a large public." — Fritz Stern, author of Five Germanys I Have Known

"Americans should read this narrative — part history, part memoir — and hope for a day when its author will once again be in a position to help restore his country's fortunes." — Tony Judt, author of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743294089
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
01/01/2008
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.50(d)

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