Summary of The Accidental Superpower

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In 1944, the United States engineered the Bretton Woods agreements, which launched the modern era of international trade. America opened its domestic markets to imports and committed its naval power to protect trade worldwide. Geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan explains that, as America’s costs for maintaining this state of affairs begin to outweigh the benefits it receives and as the world order under Bretton Woods unravels, Americans will resist the burden of keeping the seas secure. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends Zeihan’s knowledgeable if contrarian argument to policy makers, investors and anyone in imports and exports, energy, international politics, strategy, lobbying or defense.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why American power derives from geography, not ideology;
  • Why the current era of international trade will end in the 2030s; and
  • Why the end of this era will have less impact on the United States than on other sea-faring countries.

About the Author

Peter Zeihan worked for 12 years with the geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor before starting his own firm, Zeihan on Geopolitics.



The Bretton Woods Era

On July 1, 1944, hundreds of delegates from US-allied nations during World War II convened at a hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. They engaged in multilateral negotiations that led to the creation of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. These institutions helped Europe recover from the war and developed the basis for the trade-driven world economy that continues today. Americans controlled the outcome of the Bretton Woods conference as they had controlled the WWII Allied campaign against Germany and Japan.

At that time, the US had the most powerful navy in the world. Many of the Bretton Woods delegates expected it to behave as a victorious imperial power and to make Europe part of its territory. Instead, the American delegates said they wanted to make their markets accessible to anyone who wished to export to the United States. They proposed using the US Navy to protect global maritime trade, essentially promising an indirect subsidy to each country at the conference. Delegates ratified the Bretton Woods agreements with little hesitation on July 22, 1944. World War...

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