Cover image for The empire and the five kings : America's abdication and the fate of the world / Bernard-Henri Lévy ; translated by Steven B. Kennedy.
Title:
The empire and the five kings : America's abdication and the fate of the world / Bernard-Henri Lévy ; translated by Steven B. Kennedy.
Title Variants:
Empire and the 5 kings
ISBN:
9781250203014
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2019.
Physical Description:
261 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Contents:
Prologue: on Dove's feet, the Kurds -- The latest news from the empire. Hegel's ghost ; How the word came to America ; Lest I forget you, Jerusalem, Aeneas, Virgil ; Jeremy Bentham and the web ; Thus spake the empire of the eye and of nothingness -- Five kingdoms on the offensive. The earth shook in Kurdistan ; Herodotus's trap ; Dante, Abraham, and the war of the five kings ; The brown wave ; The specters' ball -- Epilogue: where does the sea go at ebb tide?
Abstract:
"The Empire and the Five Kings is a cri de coeur that draws upon lessons from history and the eternal touchstones of human culture to reveal the stakes facing the West as America retreats from its leadership role, a process that did not begin with Donald Trump's presidency and is not likely to end with him. The crisis is one whose roots can be found as far back as antiquity and whose resolution will require the West to find a new way forward if its principles and values are to survive."--Jacket flap.
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Summary

Summary

One of the West's leading intellectuals offers a provocative look at America's withdrawal from world leadership and the rising powers who seek to fill the vacuum left behind

The United States was once the hope of the world, a beacon of freedom and the defender of liberal democracy. Nations and peoples on all continents looked to America to stand up for the values that created the Western world, and to oppose autocracy and repression. Even when America did not live up to its ideals, it still recognized their importance, at home and abroad.

But as Bernard-Henri Lévy lays bare in this powerful and disturbing analysis of the world today, America is retreating from its traditional leadership role, and in its place have come five ambitious powers, former empires eager to assert their primacy and influence. Lévy shows how these five--Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, and Sunni radical Islamism--are taking steps to undermine the liberal values that have been a hallmark of Western civilization.

The Empire and the Five Kings is a cri de coeur that draws upon lessons from history and the eternal touchstones of human culture to reveal the stakes facing the West as America retreats from its leadership role, a process that did not begin with Donald Trump's presidency and is not likely to end with him. The crisis is one whose roots can be found as far back as antiquity and whose resolution will require the West to find a new way forward if its principles and values are to survive.

As seen on Real Time with Bill Maher (2/22/2019) and Fareed Zakaria GPS (2/17/2019).


Author Notes

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a philosopher, activist, filmmaker and author of more than thirty books including The Genius of Judaism, American Vertigo, Barbarism with a Human Face, and Who Killed Daniel Pearl? His writing has appeared extensively in publications throughout Europe and the United States. His documentaries include Peshmerga, The Battle of Mosul, The Oath of Tobruk and Bosna! Lévy is co-founder of the antiracist group SOS Racisme and has served on diplomatic missions for the French government.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

French intellectual Lévy (The Genius of Judaism) melds history, theology, politics, philosophy, and personal experience in this striking but flawed booklength essay on the past and future of world politics. Lévy believes in universal history, the idea that the world's history is one coherent story whose arc is a change in power from East to West. In this view, the U.S. is a continuation of Europe; it became a reluctant empire almost by default after WWII; and the nature of its imperialism is changing thanks to the apolitical monopoly of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Drawing on Western philosophy (Bentham, Hegel, Heidegger) and the Bible, he lays out an explanation for the U.S.'s withdrawal from its role as global watchdog and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the five kings-Iran, Russia, Turkey, China, and "those nostalgic for the caliphate"-that he sees lying in wait, eager to take its place. Surprisingly, after much buildup of the threat, the last chapter concludes that it would be difficult for any of the kingdoms to truly become an empire, and the book's premise falls flat. Though Lévy's analysis of the internet landscape and its impact on truth is deeply insightful, those who don't share his belief in the West's exceptionality and his despair at its loss of power will not connect with the analysis he constructs atop them. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.