Few terms are so widely used in the literature of international relations and political science, with so little agreement about their exact meaning, as hegemony.
In the first full historical study of its fortunes as a concept, Perry Anderson traces its emergence in Ancient Greece and its rediscovery during the upheavals of 1848–1849 in Germany. He then follows its checkered career in revolutionary Russia, fascist Italy, Cold War America, Gaullist France, Thatcher’s Britain, post-colonial India, feudal Japan, Maoist China, eventually arriving at the world of Merkel and May, Bush and Obama.
The result is a surprising and fascinating expedition into global intellectual history, ending with reflections on the contemporary political landscape.
“If you want to see how hegemony has been transformed from a critical term in the lexicon of leftist scholars and activists to a less critical but increasingly pervasive term in the lexicon of those interrogating late US imperialism, then The H-Word is a book well worth reading.”
“Anderson deploys his formidable erudition to craft short chapters on the conflicting understandings of hegemony among Ancient Greek and Roman historians, Russian revolutionaries, Prussian military theorists, Italian communists (where Gramsci shows up), Anglo-American international relations scholars, Chinese statesmen from Confucius to Mao, post-structuralist Marxists (where Gramsci reappears), and the architects of the European Union. This is accomplished with admirably clear and jargon-free prose, and the book is a pleasure to read.”
“Perry Anderson offers a global intellectual history of the many meanings, applications, and turning points in the use of hegemony as a theoretical tool. The most impressive aspect is the breadth he must operate with in terms of history, disciplines, and geographic contexts beyond Marxist theory and beyond the continent of Europe.”