Racing to the Top: How Energy Fuels System Leadership in World Politics

ISBN : 9780190699697

William R. Thompson; Leila Zakhirova
336 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Dec 2018
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In the international political economy of the last two millennia, there tends to be one state leading the world as the foremost producer of energy and new technology. In Racing to the Top, William R. Thompson and Leila Zakhirova argue that the US and China, like previous leading countries, rely on energy transition, or the development of alternative energy, in order to make new technology relatively inexpensive to develop and to fuel. While the US has historically held the lead, its edge in the global energy economy appears to be eroding, and as energy leadership diminishes, so does the country's position in world politics. Thompson and Zakhirova take a long view in order to show what will be necessary for a new power to emerge as the system leader, then map a path forward for energy policy. Informed by a deep knowledge of world history, political economy, and environmental technology, this book is the first complete overview of energy transitions over the past thousand years.


Part I: Introduction
Chapter 1: Systemic Leadership and Energy: The Argument
Chapter 2: The Leadership Long Cycle Framework
Chapter 3: Revising the Framework: Long Cycles, Eurasian History and the Role of Energy
Part II: The Past
Chapter 4: Rome as the Pinnacle of the Western Ancient World
Chapter 5: China: The Incomplete Transition
Chapter 6: The Netherlands: Not Quite the First Modern Economy and Its Immediate Predecessors
Chapter 7: Britain: The First Modern Industrial Economy Combining Technology and Energy
Chapter 8: The United States: Emulating and Surpassing Britain
Chapter 9: Comparing the Four Main Cases
Part III: The Future
Chapter 10: Global Warming and (Possibly) the Nature of the Next World Economy Upswing
Chapter 11: Fracking, Warming, and Systemic Leadership
Chapter 12: Racing to a Renewable Transition?
Chapter 13: Denouement: World Politics, Systemic Leadership, and Climate Change

About the author: 

William R. Thompson is a Distinguished Professor and Rogers Professor of Political Science at Indiana University. Recent books include How Rivalries End (Pennsylvania, 2013), Transition Scenarios (Chicago, 2013), and Ascending India and Its State Capacity (Yale, 2016). Leila Zakhirova is an assistant professor of political science at Concordia College. She is a co-editor of Asian Security.

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