Book Reviews Parsons's concluding chapter targets neoconservatives and America's inclination to employ "imperial methods" in its foreign policy. By this he means the combination of so-called soft power that can be backed up by hard military power when deemed necessary. This seems to be identical to John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson's use of "informal empire" to describe nineteenth-century Britain's relations with countries in Latin America and elsewhere (see their "The Imperialism of Free Trade," in The Economic History Review 6, no. 1, 1953). Parsons acknowledges that the United States is not a formal empire, so America's presence in the book is anomalous, leading one to conclude that the preceding case studies were meant to sound a cautionary note for those who wax nostalgic about erstwhile empires and think the United States should emulate them. Indeed, Parsons's general lack of engagement with other scholarly and theoretical works suggests that his goal is to influence the broader reading public and policy-makers, rather than the academic community. What does Parsons propose as an alternative to empire? Nationstates allowed (often forced) the mass of "lower orders" to become "full and equal members" of society and so were a step forward in our
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Aug 9, 2012
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