In the Shadows of the American Century

Pages: 368
Subject: History, Politics
Imprint: Oneworld

In the Shadows of the American Century

The Rise and Decline of US Global Power

Alfred W. McCoy

The essential guide to how American foreign policy shaped the world and where it's left us
9781786074157 (25 Jan 2018)
RRP £18.99

The Book

As the dust settled after World War II, America controlled half the world's manufacturing capacity. By the end of the Cold War it possessed nearly half the planet's military forces, spread across eight hundred bases, and much of its wealth. Beyond what was on display, the United States had also built a formidable diplomatic and clandestine apparatus. Indeed, more than anything else, it is this secretive tier of global surveillance and covert operations that distinguishes the US from the great empires of the past. 

But even as it has secured an unrivalled power network through satellites, drones and cyberwarfare, recent years have seen America's share of the global economy diminish, its diplomatic alliances falter and its claim to moral leadership abandoned. Meanwhile, China is emerging as the world's economic powerhouse, poised to integrate the ‘world island' stretching from Shanghai to Madrid and lay claim to the South China Sea. The nineteenth century belonged to Britain and the twentieth to America. Will China take the twenty-first?

Additional Information

Subject History, Politics
Pages 368
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Alfred W. McCoy is Harrington Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2012, Yale University awarded him the Wilbur Cross Medal for work as ‘one of the world's leading historians of Southeast Asia and an expert on…international political surveillance.'


‘A brilliant and deeply informed must-read for anyone seriously interested in geopolitics, the history of Empire, and the shape of the future.'

- New York Journal of Books

‘A profound meditation on the nature of American state power.'

- James A. Robinson, Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies, University of Chicago, and co-author of Why Nations Fail

‘McCoy's detailed, panoramic analysis…joins the essential short list of scrupulous historical and comparative studies of the United States as an…imperial power.'

- John Dower, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Embracing Defeat and War Without Mercy

‘Persuasively argues for the inevitable decline of the American empire and the rise of China… Powerful.'

- Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer

‘One of our best and most underappreciated historians takes a hard look at the truth of our empire, both its covert activities and the reasons for its impending decline.'

- Oliver Stone

‘"What is the character of this American empire?” Alfred McCoy asks at the outset of this provocative study. His answer not only limns the contours of the American imperium as it evolved during the twentieth century, but explains why its days are quite likely numbered. This is history with profound relevance to events that are unfolding before our eyes.'

- Andrew J. Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East

‘A meticulous, eye-opening account of the rise, since 1945, and impending premature demise of the American Century of world domination.'

- Ann Jones, author of They Were Soldiers

‘Sobering reading for geopolitics mavens and Risk aficionados alike.'

- Kirkus