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Posted on September 28th, 2012, by

Recently, the empires have been considered to be relics. However, the dramatic changes in the international relations at the beginning of the 20th century contributed to the reevaluation of the traditional view on empires as formations of past epochs. In actuality, many specialists, such as Mead and Munkler, view the USA as the modern empire, which dominates in the world. At the same time, specialists still cannot always come to agreement on the essence of the empire and its major characteristics, which could distinguish the empire from any other state formation. In this respect, profound researches of the subject are needed and Mead and Munkler have already made a significant contribution in the understanding of empires in their books.

Obviously, works of Mead and Munkler help to understand the essence of the empire. For instance, Mead focuses his research on the emergence of the British Empire and the modern empire which traditionally associated with the USA, which is the only superpower in the modern world. Mead conducts a detailed research of the formation of the British and American empires and reveals the fact that there was a steady strengthening of Britain and the USA which eventually resulted in the domination of the Anglo-Saxon empires in the world within the last couple of centuries.

At the same time, Mead pays little attention to non-Anglo-Saxon empires. For instance, he focuses his attention on the Spanish and Portuguese empires only because they used to be the major rivals of the British Empire and partially the USA. Hence, he analysis mainly the British and American empires, while others are analyzed in the context of the formation of Anglo-Saxon empires.

In this respect, Mead’s book is quite different from Munkler’s one. In his book “Empires: The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States”¯, Munkler focuses on the history and evolution of the major empires that have existed in the world since the epoch of the Roman Empire. Moreover, while analyzing the present epoch he does not only studies the USA as the modern empire but he also draws the attention of readers to the EU, as a potential empire which can emerge along with the American empire. In such a way, Munkler’s researcher is not limited by the British and American empires that naturally provide ample opportunities to have a broader view on empires, their essence, and principal characteristics. As for Mead, his research seems to be too narrow not only in geographical but also historical scope.

Moreover, Munkler conducts a detailed analysis of each empire from the ancient epoch to present days and he attempts to reveal features that are common to all empires in order to single out those characteristics which can be applied to a real empire. In other words, Munkler attempts to create a model of empire on the basis of which it is possible to define whether a powerful state can be viewed as an empire or not. In this regard, Mead simply describes the British and American empires and, if he finds some similarities, these findings seem to be rather spontaneous and occasional rather than systematic. At any rate, Mead rather attempts to understand what modern empires are, while Munkler is more concerned with understanding of what the empire is in principle, regardless of a definite timeline.

Thus, it is possible to conclude that Munkler’s book is more useful for those who wants to understand the essence of the concept of empire and its major characteristics.

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