Overextension is the common pitfall of empires. Why does it
occur? What are the forces that cause the great powers of the
industrial era to pursue aggressive foreign policies? Jack Snyder
identifies recurrent myths of empire, describes the varieties of
overextension to which they lead, and criticizes the traditional
explanations offered by historians and political scientists.
He tests three competing theories-realism, misperception, and
domestic coalition politics-against five detailed case studies:
early twentieth-century Germany, Japan in the interwar period,
Great Britain in the Victorian era, the Soviet Union after World
War II, and the United States during the Cold War. The resulting
insights run counter to much that has been written about these
apparently familiar instances of empire building.
Subjects: Political Science, History
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