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The Structure of Nations and Empires – Niebuhr (1959) (1st edition)


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The Structure of Nations and Empires – Niebuhr (1959) (1st edition)


Title: The Structure of Nations and Empires

Author: Reinhold Niebuhr

Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1959. First edition.

Condition: Hardcover, with dust jacket. Fair. Small closed tears to dust jacket, inscription of ffep, original price sticker at the back. Minor foxing.

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From jacket flap:

This book is a study of the perennial patterns, the recurring problems and varied but similar structures of the political order, with particular reference to the perplexities of our nuclear age.


  1. Introduction
  2. The Two Imperial Nations of Today
  3. Community and Dominion in Nation and Empire
  4. Democracy and Authority
  5. The Anatomy of Empire
  6. The Encounter between Christianity and Empire
  7. The Lesson from the Three Empires
  8. The Uniqueness of Western Christendom
  9. The Historical Basis for National Autonomy
  10. The World of Autonomous Nations
  11. The Vague Universalism of Liberal Democracy
  12. The Character of National Imperialism
  13. The Utopian Basis of Soviet Power
  14. Communist Universalism and Imperialism
  15. Empires, Nations and Collective Security in a Global Situation
  16. The Cold War and the Nuclear Dilemma
  17. The Creative and Destructive Possibilities of Human Freedom

About Niebuhr (from Wikipedia):

Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (June 21, 1892 – June 1, 1971) was an American theologian, ethicist, public intellectual, commentator on politics and public affairs, and professor at Union Theological Seminary for more than 30 years. The brother of another prominent theological ethicist, H. Richard Niebuhr, he is also known for authoring the Serenity Prayer, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. Among his most influential books are Moral Man and Immoral Society and The Nature and Destiny of Man, the second of which Modern Library ranked one of the top 20 nonfiction books of the twentieth century. Starting as a minister with working-class and labor class sympathies in the 1920s oriented to theological pacifism, he shifted to neo-orthodox realist theology in the 1930s and developed the theo-philosophical perspective known as Christian realism. He attacked utopianism as ineffectual for dealing with reality.

Aside from academics, numerous politicians and activists such as U.S. President Barack Obama, former President Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hubert Humphrey, Dean Acheson, Madeleine Albright, and John McCain have also cited his influence on their thought. Arthur Schlesinger described Niebuhr as “the most influential American theologian of the 20th century” and Time posthumously called Niebuhr “the greatest Protestant theologian in America since Jonathan Edwards”. Recent years have seen a renewed interest in Niebuhr’s work, in part because of Obama’s stated admiration for Niebuhr.