From Publishers Weekly
Readers who make it past the musty jargon of academic Marxism that announces itself in the introduction will proceed to a thought-provoking genealogy of empires throughout history. Wood, a professor at York University in Toronto and an orthodox economic determinist, argues that the source of an empire's wealth drives its military, administrative and ideological practices. She distinguishes between the Roman "empire of property," a land-based system that stimulated unending territorial conquest; the Arab, Venetian and Dutch "empires of commerce," dedicated to the protection of trade routes and market dominance; and the British "empire of capital," marked by the imposition of market imperatives on conquered territories. The book culminates with a study of what Wood describes as the "new imperialism we call globalization." Challenging those critics of globalization who emphasize the role of corporations and international institutions like the World Bank, Wood says that the capitalist system is more than ever reliant on nation-states to maintain order, with the United States acting as the great imperial enforcer. Wood believes that the inevitable end of a system of universal capitalism is a system of universal war, which is how she sees the new doctrine put forth by the Bush administration in the name of fighting terrorism. Wood's dense analysis would have benefited from more historical evidence and engagement with alternative theories. The connections she draws between economic and imperial systems are intriguing but incomplete explanations of geopolitical dynamics. A worthwhile study for leftist academics, Wood's book is not written to appeal to a broader audience.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“The most compelling account yet of imperialism in its current phase—how it came into being, how it operates, how it differs from earlier forms.”—Robert Brenner