When the fall of the Berlin Wall ended the Cold War, the American political establishment felt it had prevailed in a cosmic struggle of world-historical significance. Our side had won, the outcome both decisive and irreversible. For the world’s “indispensable nation” and “sole superpower,” the future looked very bright indeed. History itself had seemingly delivered the United States to the very summit of power and prestige, thereby validating American-style liberal democratic capitalism as the future of humankind.
In the decades that followed, American leaders put that claim to the test. They embraced globalization as a putative source of unprecedented wealth, embarked on wide-ranging military campaigns to export American values, and redefined the very meaning of freedom. Meanwhile, they placed all their bets on the White House fulfilling the promise of their Cold War triumph: unequaled prosperity, lasting peace, and absolute freedom.
In The Age of Illusions, bestselling author Andrew Bacevich takes us from that moment of seemingly ultimate victory to the age of Trump, recounting an epic tale of folly and delusion. Writing with his usual eloquence and vast knowledge, he explains how within a quarter of a century the United States ended up with gaping inequality, permanent war, moral confusion, and an increasingly angry and alienated population, as well as, of course, the strangest president in American history.