2. Why the West Rules -- for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future (2010)
By Ian Morris
Recommended by Gareth Evans, Joseph Nye, and Arvind Subramanian
Stanford University historian Ian Morris takes a look backward to answer the "burning question" of how long -- and whether -- the West will stay on top. His answer:
"The patterns established in the past suggest that the shift of wealth and power from West to East is inexorable. The transformation of the old Eastern core into a Western periphery in the nineteenth century allowed the East to discover advantages in its backwardness, and the latest of these -- the incorporation of China's vast, poor workforce into the global capitalist economy -- is still playing out. Bungling, internal divisions, and external wars may hold China back, as they did so often between the 1840s and 1970s, but sooner or later -- probably by 2030, almost certainly by 2040 -- China's gross domestic product will overtake that of the United States. At some point in the twenty-first century China will use up the advantages of its backwardness, but when that happens the world's center of economic gravity will probably still remain in the East, expanding to include South and Southeast Asia. The shift in power and wealth from West to East in the twenty-first century is probably as inevitable as the shift from East to West that happened in the nineteenth."