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The Imperial Moment

The Imperial Moment

Edited by Kimberly Kagan

ISBN 9780674035874

Publication date: 05/05/2010

In a provocative study on comparative empire, noted historians identify periods of transition across history that reveal how and why empires emerge. Loren J. Samons on Athens and Arthur Eckstein on Rome examine classical Western empires. Nicholas Canny discusses the British experience, Paul Bushkovitch analyzes the case of imperial Russia, and Pamela Kyle Crossley studies Qing China’s beginnings. Frank Ninkovich tackles the actions of the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, which many view as imperial behavior.

What were the critical characteristics that distinguished the imperial period of the state from its pre-imperial period? When did the state develop those characteristics sufficiently to be called an empire? The authors indicate the domestic political, social, economic, or military institutions that made empire formation possible and address how intentional the transition to empire was. They investigate the actions that drove imperial consolidation and consider the international environment in which the empire formed. Kimberly Kagan provides a concluding essay that probes the historical cases for insights into policymaking and the nature of imperial power.


  • This is a thoughtful, wide-ranging contribution to debates on the past and future of empire. Taken as a whole, the volume offers new ways to think about identity and empire and highlights how the rise of empires transforms the international system; usually creating instability, uncertainty, and new hierarchies of power. This impressive book offers a comparative analysis and fresh approach for the study of empire that makes it valuable for a broad readership interested in world history and international politics.

    —Jeremi Suri, author of Henry Kissinger and the American Century


  • Kimberly Kagan is president of the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, DC.

Book Details

  • 268 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press