Summary of Liberal Leviathan

The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order

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Liberal Leviathan book summary
What is the future of Pax Americana?


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It’s good to be king, but, these days, it’s tough to be number one. The US, which created an unprecedented global political system out of the ashes of World War II, suddenly found that its previously unassailable position became assailable after all with the advent of President George W. Bush’s administration. G. John Ikenberry, a Princeton professor, has conducted a painstaking analysis of this moment of crossroads and crisis. He explains that the world rejected Bush’s imperious methods because America had created a global order that relies on consensual rules. Ikenberry’s depth of insight is perhaps clearest by the end of his book. He lays out each chapter like a formal academic paper (introduction, argument and conclusion), repeats salient points, and sticks to an unfortunately dry, flightless literary style. Nevertheless, this is a penetrating rumination on today’s remarkable unipolar world. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends this thoughtful exegesis to political scientists, economists, academics, politicians and interested citizens who argue for and against America’s continued leadership.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How America created a collaborative global order through military, political and economic structures;
  • How the George W. Bush administration tested that order; and
  • How the US must manage its unipolar power in a shifting global order.


The American Order, Besieged
Since World War II, the US has been the organizer and guarantor of the liberal democratic political system that now dominates the world. Under this remarkably successful, stable world order, cooperative, rule-based institutions and progressive Western ideas...
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About the Author

G. John Ikenberry, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton, also wrote After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars.

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