Bruce Ackerman: The Decline and Fall of the American Republic

Runaway presidency

Alison Broinowski


The Decline and Fall of the American Republic
by Bruce Ackerman
Harvard University Press (Inbooks), $42.95 hb, 270 pp, 9780674057036


As people around the world watch events in the United States, many will agree that it is indeed an exceptional, if conflicted, nation. The sole superpower, with the world’s largest economy and the most powerful military ever known, is hugely in debt, and struggles agonisingly just to produce a federal budget. The nation with the world’s best universities and hospitals has an inequitable education and health system, decaying public infrastructure, and high rates of imprisonment. The American people fought a war of independence, developed electricity and telephony, adopted decimal currency, founded the United Nations, put men and women in space, created rock and roll, and devised the Internet; yet to this day they perpetuate creationism, capital punishment, gun rights, and imperial measurement. The country’s full military capacity is too lethal to be used for most purposes, yet its weapons industry continues to produce increasingly sophisticated killing machines. Less than one per cent of Americans surveyed by the New York Times and CBS News in late 2010 and early 2011 considered abortion to be the most important problem facing the United States, yet Republicans who approve huge sums for killing foreigners oppose funding abortions for Americans.

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Published in June 2011 no. 332
Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski has been a reviewer for ABR since 1962, concentrating mainly on Asian fiction and international affairs. She is an Australian former diplomat and has taught and researched at ANU, Macquarie, and Wollongong Universities. The eleven books she has written and edited are about the interface between Australia and Asian countries.

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