In this era of globalization, we hear a great deal about a new imperialism and its chief enforcer, the United States. Today, with the US promising an endless war against terrorism and promoting a policy of preemptive defence, this notion seems more plausible than ever. But what does imperialism mean in the absence of colonial conquest and direct imperial rule? In this lucid and lively book Ellen Meiksins Wood explores the new imperialism against the contrasting background of older forms, from ancient Rome, through medieval Europe, the Arab Muslim world, the Spanish conquests, and the Dutch commercial empire. Tracing the birth of a capitalist imperialism back to the English domination of Ireland, Wood follows its development through the British Empire in America and India.The book brings into sharp relief the nature of today's new capitalist empire, in which the political reach of imperial power cannot match its economic hegemony, and the global economy is administered not by a global state but by a system of multiple local states, policed by the most disproportionately powerful military force the world has ever known and enforced according to a new military doctrine of war without end, in purpose or time.