Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Decline and Fall of the American Republic' by Bruce Ackerman

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.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in June 2011, no. 332
Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski has lived, worked and frequently travelled in Japan. She was Australia's cultural attaché in Tokyo in the mid-1980s and has recently contributed a chapter, with Rachel Miller, on the history of the Australian Embassy, to a book on Australia–Japan relations edited at Deakin University.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.