The book begins in the United States – the present-day world hyper-power. The United States’ ascent to world dominance began after its victory in World War II, which was catalyzed in large part through what the country offered – freedom, as well as a chance to start anew. Offerings such as freedom sparked an influx of immigrants, and immigrants attracted into the United States in turn built up human population and made the job market more competitive. However, as America’s power grew stronger, the country became increasingly an “empire.” Exercising its powers, America began over-using military force, threatening foreign governments, and taking global actions without international approval. These intrusive behaviors of America, however, go against history. Lessons learned from the past suggest that world super-powers could only dominate through compliance with foreign nations, such as how Achaemenid Empire ruled their people.
Chua discusses the Achaemenid Empire in Chapter One. Lying in present-day Iraq, the Achaemenid Empire was the earliest hyper-power of the world, ruling as many as 42 million people. The story of the Achaemenid began with Cyrus the Great. Cyrus, remarkably complete in religious tolerance, not only spiritually freed people, but also restored them. Cyrus did not establish new kingdoms through conquering by strength, but instead, he did so by respecting the people and their freedom and human rights. Cyrus serves as a prime example of ruling people by serving them rather than coercing them through fear and force.
Cyrus’s legacy was continued by Cambyses (B.C. 530-522), and then brought to the peak by Darius the Great, who expanded the Achaemenid, or the Persian Empire, into present-day India. One big contributor to Darius’s success was his brilliant leadership and direct military conquering of the Immortals, who were