We May Dominate the World

Ambition, Anxiety, and the Rise of the American Colossus


By Sean A Mirski

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$44.00 CAD

Kirkus 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of 2023

What did it take for the United States to become a global superpower? The answer lies in a missing chapter of American foreign policy with stark lessons for today

The cutthroat world of international politics has always been dominated by great powers. Yet no great power in the modern era has ever managed to achieve the kind of invulnerability that comes from being completely supreme in its own neighborhood. No great power, that is, except one—the United States.
In We May Dominate the World, Sean A. Mirski tells the riveting story of how the United States became a regional hegemon in the century following the Civil War. By turns reluctant and ruthless, Americans squeezed their European rivals out of the hemisphere while landing forces on their neighbors’ soil with dizzying frequency. Mirski reveals the surprising reasons behind this muscular foreign policy in a narrative full of twists, colorful characters, and original accounts of the palace coups and bloody interventions that turned the fledgling republic into a global superpower.
Today, as China makes its own run at regional hegemony and nations like Russia and Iran grow more menacing, Mirski’s fresh look at the rise of the American colossus offers indispensable lessons for how to meet the challenges of our own century.

  • “In We May Dominate the World, Mirski revises our understanding of the period during which America ascended to the pinnacle of power. In so doing, he provides a framework for understanding the important geostrategic competitions of the next hundred years. This is a book to read and debate so we might better understand our inheritance and think more clearly about our future.”
    General H. R. McMaster, former National Security Advisor and author of Dereliction of Duty and Battlegrounds
  • “Mirski has given us a thought-provoking account of America’s rise to become a global power. Deeply researched and beautifully written, it captures the forces both domestic and international that shaped the United States efforts to secure dominance in North America and our hemisphere and describes how American efforts to defend its interest against rapacious European imperial powers launched its career as a global power. In the process, he underscores the challenges and opportunities in a global system reluctant to open space for a rising power. The parallels with China are both striking and ironic. Mirski has done us a great favor by reminding us to look in the mirror as we consider our relationship with China and the world we will create together in the twenty-first century.”
    Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
  • “In this brilliant, lucidly written, and prodigiously researched book, Mirski takes a cold-eyed look at US intervention and occupation in the western hemisphere. He not only challenges dominant historical interpretations, but he shows how America’s rise to regional hegemony offers a window into America’s rise to global hegemony.”
    Dr. Robert Kagan, author of The Ghost at the Feast and Dangerous Nation
  • “Superb . . . A must-read for serious students of US foreign policy." 
    Professor John J. Mearsheimer, author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics
  • "Mirski gives strong credence to Benedetto Croce’s aphorism, 'All History Is Contemporary History.' This thoroughly researched tour-de-force offers new interpretations of the rise of America from beleaguered new republic to regional hegemon to world power; and at the same time, issues not-so-subtle warnings about contemporary countries (China, Russia, Iran) that may be following a similar trajectory."
    Professor Luis Martínez-Fernández, author of When the World Turned Upside Down
  • “[A] lively and brilliantly written look into the historic successes and failures of foreign defense tactics by the United States.”
    M. M. McAllen, author of Maximilian and Carlota
  • "Incredibly timely, almost shockingly so ... It's a great read."
    Matt Pottinger, former Deputy National Security Advisor
  • "[A] perceptive, thought-provoking panorama of America's rise to global dominance—and the issues that our rise has brought in its wake. It's a book you'll want to read, reread, and keep nearby." 
    Professor Laurence H. Tribe, University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University
  • "Terrific. It's a really remarkable tale."
    Jack Goldsmith, former United States Assistant Attorney General
  • "A really serious history and grand strategy book of the type that very few people write anymore. ... This is an impressive piece of work."
    John B. Bellinger III, former State Department Legal Adviser and co-chair of Arnold & Porter LLP's Global Law and Public Policy Group
  • “An elegantly told and engrossing history.”
    Publishers Weekly
  • "A tremendous work of well-structured research that will appeal to a wide audience."
    Kirkus, starred review
  • “Impressively erudite … astonishingly comprehensive and stylishly written … We May Dominate the World is a work of prodigious scholarship, featuring an extraordinary breadth and depth of sources, … that brings vividly to life an important and all but forgotten age of American history.”
    David Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, The Spectator
  • The narrative is rich in details, anecdotes, and character delineation. It's highly accessible and highly relevant to much of our foreign relations today.
  • “Extremely entertaining, insightful, and uniquely presented, We May Dominate the World offers an accessible history that should prove tempting to anyone who is interested in foreign policy, Latin America, or American history.”
    Washington Examiner
  • “Highly readable and well‐researched.”
    Cato Institute
  • "Sean Mirski, in his debut work, displayed the skill and creativity of a veteran at the top of his game. . . . I can't recommend this book enough."
    Dustin Bass, Host of The Sons of History Podcast
  • "Engaging and readable ... Mirski’s study excels as an examination of US policymaking."
    Professor Jay Sexton, author of The Monroe Doctrine

On Sale
Jun 27, 2023
Page Count
512 pages

Sean A Mirski

About the Author

Sean A. Mirski is a lawyer and U.S. foreign policy scholar who has worked on national security issues across multiple U.S. presidential administrations. A term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he currently practices national security, foreign relations, and appellate law at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, and is also a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He previously served in the U.S. Department of Defense under both Republican and Democratic administrations as Special Counsel to the General Counsel, where he earned the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Award for Outstanding Achievement. He has written extensively on American history, international relations, law, and politics, including as editor of the book Crux of Asia: China, India, and the Emerging Global Order (CEIP 2013). Earlier in his career, he clerked for two U.S. Supreme Court justices and served as a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Named one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30,” he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Chicago.

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