Review: Ferguson’s Colossus

Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire
Niall Ferguson

Ferguson is by far my favorite right-wing writer*. He is a skilled stylist and isn’t at all afraid to take his theories to their logical conclusions. For Ferguson, the problem isn’t the US is an empire, it is that it does a poor job of being one.


Though it is only one example, the way Ferguson deals with the war in Iraq is illustrative of his thinking. I don’t know if Ferguson’s position on the war in Iraq has changed, but at the time of the writing of this book (late 2004) he wasn’t opposed to the occupation, he thought there weren’t enough troops to pull it off. How to get enough troops for the mission? Give away citizenship to those who would fight for it and amnesty to prisoners who will fight. There’s nothing wrong with being the new Rome, Ferguson seems to be arguing, just don’t halfass it.

This is a minor, overtly poltical work by Ferguson. His Rothschild books display a totally different person – one who is a careful, detail oriented historian (though one not without political assumptions). I prefer the historian, and this book quickly feels dated, still it was worth the read, if only to disagree with a smart man.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

*I obvious disagree with Ferguson’s categorization of the American Empire as being a positive force in the world (though I don’t disagree with his assertion that it is a shittily run empire) but I do appreciate his ability to write.


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