Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group, recommends Superstates: “Analysts focus on what the world’s largest and most powerful countries can do to confront climate change, pandemics, and other dangerous threats. Roberts’s Superstates flips the script and asks how these threats will affect the structure, borders, and even existence of the world’s most populous countries. Drawing from the history of empire, the book is a sobering warning of the difficulties our unprecedentedly complex ‘superstates’ will face to survive the next century unscathed.”
Christopher Hood of the University of Oxford says: “A fascinating and provocative account of the governance challenges facing the rulers of today’s four ‘superstates,’ who must grapple not only with the issues that have beset imperial rulers over the centuries, but also those arising from modern technology and culture.”
And Donald Moynihan of Georgetown University says: “Superstates looks ahead at the future of governance, where more and more people will be crammed into a few massive polities. Roberts shrewdly considers the lessons from past empires and the challenges of running a modern nation state. The result is an extraordinarily accessible, insightful and challenging field guide to governance around the world in the coming decades.”
Pre-order on Amazon.
In The Print, Sanjeev Chopra draws on my book Strategies for Governing to discuss geopolitics in South Asia. Read the article.
Here’s the description for Superstates: Empires of the Twenty-First Century, forthcoming from Polity in late 2022. Details and pre-order on the Polity website. Pre-order on Amazon US. Pre-order on Amazon UK.
In this century, the world will conduct an extraordinary experiment in government. In 2050, forty percent of the planet’s population will live in just four places: India, China, the European Union, and the United States. These are superstates — polities that are distinguished from normal countries by expansiveness, population, diversity, and complexity.
How should superstates be governed? What must their leaders do to hold these immense polities together in the face of extraordinary strains and shocks? Alasdair Roberts looks to history for answers. Superstates, he contends, wrestle with the same problems of leadership, control and purpose that plagued empires for centuries. But they also bear heavier burdens than empires — including the obligation to improve life for ordinary people and respect human rights.
One axiom of history was that empires always died. Size and complexity led to fragility, and imperial rulers improvised constantly to put off the day of reckoning. Leaders of superstates are doing the same today, pursuing radically different strategies for governing at scale that have profound implications for democracy and human rights. History shows that there are ways to govern these sprawling and diverse polities well. But this requires a different way of thinking about the art and methods of statecraft.
Strategies for Governing: Reinventing Public Administration for a Dangerous Century has received the 2021 book award from the Section on Public Administration Research of the American Society for Public Administration. The Committee’s statement: “This book challenges researchers and practitioners in the field to contemplate how we can ‘recover the fundamentals of government,’ and addresses the urgent and fundamental issues we are facing today. The book takes a thoughtful interdisciplinary approach, drawing on public administration history and theory, administrative process development in political science, fragile states research in international relations, and institutional design, presenting an expansive view of the capacities and new directions for public administration as a field of research, teaching, and practice. The nomination letter by ASPA Past President Chester Newland notes this distinctive quality of the book and emphasizes that in light of the ‘currently urgent realities of the field, the analysis is certain to be a lasting contribution.'” More comments and reviews on the book here.
I’ve just published a short comment in Canadian Public Administration that summarizes the argument in my book Strategies for Governing. Open access here.
In Perspectives on Politics, Jennifer Selin reviews Strategies for Governing: “Overall, Strategies for Governing has broad implications for research, teaching, and practice in a variety of disciplines and subfields. The book’s insights provide readers with fresh perspectives on important research questions in public administration, public policy, American politics, international relations, and comparative politics. Perhaps most notably, Roberts encourages us to return to first principles and to address the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of government.” Review here.
In the newspaper Dagbladet Information, Professor Carsten Greve of Copenhagen Business School discusses my book Strategies for Governing. Link to column.
I discussed my book Can Government Do Anything Right? as part of the orientation for the University of Georgia MPA program on August 13-14. Video here.
I spoke with Professor Colin Talbot about my book, Strategies for Governing. Watch the conversation.
A Chinese translation of America’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837 from Cornell University Press is now available from SDX Publishing. On Amazon.