In the International Journal of Public Administration, Chester A. Newland reviews Superstates. Newland says: “This book is expertly informed, extensively well documented, crafted for interesting study, and importantly useful for professional and popular understanding.” Read the review.
Posts from the ‘Books’ Category
I’m looking forward to talking about Superstates on October 24 in a virtual book talk sponsored by the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. Registration details here.
My next book project, with the working title of “The Adaptable Country,” is now under contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press.
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, University of Oxford: “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.”
Donald Moynihan, Georgetown University: “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.”
Geert Bouckaert, KU Leuven Public Governance Institute: “Are ‘Superstates’ governance utopias or dystopias? And are they self-denying or self-fullfilling? We, the people, want to know. This book makes us understand what to do, and even more, what not to do.”
“This book is expertly informed, extensively well documented, crafted for interesting study, and importantly useful for professional and popular understanding.” – International Journal of Public Administration.
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.