What are the characteristics of empires? What are the dangers of an imperial order? And what opportunities does it offer? All of a sudden, these questions are no longer only of historical interest. The USA now holds a position of supremacy that many consider threatening. Do the politicians in Washington determine the rules that the rest of the world has to follow? Or is there a logic of world domination to which they too must bow? Herfried Münkler shows how empires work and what kind of empires there have been in the past. A precise look at history and at the same time a brilliant analysis of a highly topical subject.