America in Retreat

Pages: 336
Subject: Current Affairs
Imprint: Oneworld

America in Retreat

The Decline of US Leadership from WW2 to Covid-19

Michael Pembroke

The story of how America turned its back on the world... 
9780861542680 (1 Jan 1970)
RRP £9.99 / US$14.95
9781786079879 (28 Jan 2021)
RRP £20.00 / US$30.00

The Book

The story of how America turned its back on the world... 

In the heady days after 1945, the authority of the United States was unrivalled and, with the founding of the UN, a new era of international co-operation seemed to have begun. But seventy-five years later, its influence has already diminished. The world has now entered a post-American era, argues Michael Pembroke, defined by a flourishing Asia and the ascendancy of China, as much as by the decline of the United States.

This book is a short history of that decline; how high standards and treasured principles were ignored; how idealism was replaced by hubris and moral compromise; and how adherence to the rule of law became selective. It is also a look into the future - a future dominated by greater Asia and China in particular. We are in the midst of the third great power shift in modern history - from Europe to America to Asia.

Covering wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, interventions in Iran, Guatemala and Chile, and a retreat from international engagement with the UN, WHO and, increasingly, trade agreements, Pembroke sketches the history of America's retreat from universal principles to provide a clear-eyed analysis of the dangers of American exceptionalism.

Additional Information

Subject Current Affairs
Pages 336
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Michael Pembroke was educated at the Universities of Sydney and Cambridge and was a Director's Visitor in 2017 at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ. A former New South Wales Supreme Court judge (2010-20), he is the author of Korea: Where the American Century Began (2018).


'As Pembroke argues, America's bully-boy tactics have only served to invigorate the country's foes… Current events have added a startling and acidly ironic epilogue to Pembroke's narrative. The storming of the Capitol was Trump's Bay of Pigs, his My Lai, his Iranian hostage crisis and his Benghazi, all compressed into a few ugly hours.'

- Observer, Book of the Day

‘Perceptive and compelling, often heart-rending, sometimes downright terrifying …'

- Noam Chomsky on Korea: Where the American Century Began

‘… Beautifully written … the phrase ‘as gripping as a thriller' really applies: once I'd started reading I could not stop, literally so.'

- A. C. Grayling on Korea: Where the American Century Began