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Publisher's Summary

A major theoretical statement by a distinguished political scholar explains why a policy of liberal hegemony is doomed to fail 

In this major statement, the renowned international-relations scholar John Mearsheimer argues that liberal hegemony, the foreign policy pursued by the United States since the Cold War ended, is doomed to fail. It makes far more sense, he maintains, for Washington to adopt a more restrained foreign policy based on a sound understanding of how nationalism and realism constrain great powers abroad. 

It is widely believed in the West that the United States should spread liberal democracy across the world, foster an open international economy, and build institutions. This policy of remaking the world in America’s image is supposed to protect human rights, promote peace, and make the world safe for democracy. But this is not what has happened. Instead, the United States has ended up as a highly militarized state fighting wars that undermine peace, harm human rights, and threaten liberal values at home. Mearsheimer tells us why this has happened.

©2018 John J. Mearsheimer (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Great Delusion

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Dense, fact filled, sober analysis and prescription

Mearsheimer brilliantly probes the subtle and nuanced dimensions of modern foreign policy, at high level commensurate with his decades of scholarship, accessible to any curious reader.

In contrast to the 500 word essays common in typical popular opeds, Mearsheimer does not try paint US foreign policies in pallet consisting of just black and white, or red and blue. His deep analysis, exposes raw the purist ideologies (which I lean towards) of libertarian isolation, neoconservative intervention, or panglossian liberalism as flawed.

Though subtle, his well documented analysis is ultimately optimistic, in that his realist prescriptions based on recognizing the inherent nationalism of all peoples as a force greater than liberal democracy or authoritarian communist philosophies. He argue realism will lead to less foreign intervention, less wars, and less suffering.

13 people found this helpful

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Great listen - but pretty dense

I loved this book but at times it was hard to consume by listening as I had to rewind many times to understand the ideas. But my real criticism is for the performer who should have learned to properly say things like realpolitik before he was allowed to read this book.

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Unusually sound reasoning on foreign policy

In my view the USA has had foreign policy intervention s since the end of the Cold War that harned both the national interest and the peoples of the countries targeted for intervention and attack. It is refreshing to read a realistic international relations scholar explain just how erroneous is the US liberal hegemony ambition and how much we are, at great expense, harming our own interests.

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Noah Michael Levine should read every audiobook.

I'm not qualified to give much opinion on the book so I won't do that. The performance on the other hand is something I'd like to rave about. Noah Michael Levine outdid himself. Greatest read of all time.

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Excellent book!

Very clear and straight forward. Everybody should read it. The first part focussed on politics 101. The las part was increadibly accurate with current events.

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Timely

A very thorough case for the failures of Progressive Liberalism and Liberal Hegemony. Insightful perspective when evaluating the polices of both Republicans and Democrats and wondering “How did we get here?” Especially timely WRT recent events in Ukraine (Feb 2022).

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Interesting perspective on realist foreign policy!

The narration is good, the thesis is covered quite well, and he provides excellent examples of liberal vs realist foreign policy ideas.

I also love how this book isn't super political, partly because he categorizes the two parties similarly in how they act on foreign policy decisions.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book and would recommend to those that are wondering why the US gets bogged down in forever wars in their failed determination of social engineering.

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Multipolar world

Excellent arguments! Nationalism is an unbeatable force. There’s no way to win the hearts and minds of others. Nationalism has already done it.

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Governments and complex ideas

I'm not an expert in this field and probably no more knowledgeable than the average person, but I enjoy learning new things and hearing ideas from those who know a topic far more than myself.

I recommend this book.

While much of this book was over my head, I stuck with it and came away with notions I'd not considered in my day to day life. I found it all very interesting.

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Explains a lot of things. No holes found.

This book explains a lot of issues which are happening with the United States last several years. And explains why some Americans (liberals) are so self-entitled to enforce "justice" in other countries. As well as internally - to conservative people.

For a while I've found the original ideas of liberalism (and freedom) to contradict the idea of government intervention with things such as affirmative action. From this book I've learned that's called "modus vivendi liberalism" and is largely uncommon nowadays, the closest to it being Libertarianism.

I think it doesn't gain much political weight because people who adher to it are fundamentally disinterested in politics, even actively dislike them - and so never get into the political system.

But Lobertarianism aside - the book gives a lot of good food for thought, and for action, too. I hope it's not too late for the leaders of this country to rethink their interventionist ideologies (people are seeing more and more blood through the widening cracks) - and instead focus on bringing the country to internal peace and balance, and let other nations mind their own business.

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  • Adrian J. Smith
  • 12-11-19

Solid and convincing argument

The basic premise of Mearsheimer's book is that Liberal Hegemony, the dominant foreign policy strain of the US since 1991 is not only ineffective, but harmful for both the supposedly liberated people and the US public.
Mearsheimer's argument is essentially two pronged, that Liberal Hegemony is social engineering writ large and that Liberalism is always overwhelmed by realism and nationalism.
Mearsheimer's book resonates with this reader as I cannot help but recall my undergraduate professor of political theory proclaiming that Nationalism is the most powerful of all ideologies. This book simply vindicates such a view, as Mearsheimer's provides ample illustration how nationalism trumps liberalism every time.
Mearsheimer, while providing a decent theoretical explanation, concludes the book with an appeal for the US to return to a more restrained realism based foreign policy and to jettison Liberal Hegemony altogether. Mearsheimer contends that this will be necessary if the rise of China ensures a more multi polar world, but a slowing down of China could essentially result in the US being disincentivized from jettisoning Liberal Hegemony. The main obstacle to this is the foreign policy establishment, who successfully modified any restraint Obama intended to introduce into US Foreign Policy, and so far, seem to have persuaded Trump to adapt to some aspects of Liberal Hegemony, despite his stated opposition to it.
Mearsheimer's argument is solid, well supported and has convinced me at least, and is an outstanding piece of international relations literature.

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  • Steven Brown
  • 02-05-19

A great expose of the liberal delusion

A no-holds analysis of global reality. If you want to understand the world we live in, rather than the world liberal elites want you to believe you live in, this is a must read.

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  • Nicole
  • 08-18-22

Great!

fantastic realistic view of world politics, understanding of why we are where we are! insightful

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  • PAULO CERQUEIRA
  • 08-12-22

Marvellous and contemporáneo content

Amazing book, its contents explains a lot about the political chaos the work in living in.

The author put a lot of effort and his heart to write this book which explains the American policy and its hypocrisy.

This book also helped me a “devillainize” Putin. He is worried about the survival of his country as Bush was with his unprovoked invasion of Iraqi.

I truly recommend this audiobook

Be aware that is a dense listening and you may need to find your listening pace I used -0.8x, because there is a lot of new terms to digest.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-28-22

An enlightening book!

This book focuses on the reasons why liberal hegemony, the process of trying to make the whole world liberal, is bound to fail, and to even threaten liberalism at home. Mearsheimer is a genius!

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  • Andrey Boytsov
  • 04-15-20

Very good overall though repetitive

The authors explains clearly what liberalism is and is not, both as internal doctrine and as external policy. I definitely learned a lot and saw some things in new way. I wish the book was much less repetitive

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