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The Short Story of America's leadership: From Hiroshima to Covid-19

A short history of the decline of American leadership as well as a look into the future – a future dominated by Asia, and in particular China.

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Play by the Rules

In the heady days after 1945, the authority of the United States was unrivalled. But seventy-five years later, its influence has already diminished. The world has now entered a post-American era – defined by the rise of Asia and the return of China, as much as by the decline of the United States. This book is a short history of that decline; how high standards and treasured principles were ignored; how idealism was replaced by hubris and moral compromise; and how adherence to the rule of law became selective. It is also a look into the future – a future dominated by greater Asia and China in particular. We are in the midst of the third great power shift in modern history – from Europe to America to Asia.


America in Retreat by Michael Pembroke review – grisly history of a bully-boy nation

The Guardian – 18 January 2021

After the riot at the Capitol on 6 January, embarrassed American politicians lined up to declare: “This is not who we are.” Having read Michael Pembroke’s account of the country’s international thuggery in the last 70 years I’m inclined to reply: “Sorry, no, this is what you always were – loutish, lawless and violent by default.”


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Nothing Great in US Decline

Weekend Australian – 24-25 October 2020


Tweet-freak President Donald Trump is an American creation. His spokespeople too, with their “alternative facts”, are the progeny of the modern United States


Clear, eloquent, meticulously referenced, and forensically argued as you might expect of a lawyer’s book, Play by the Rules concentrates on its chosen US subject.

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Play By The Rules

The Sydney Morning Herald - 7 August 2020


In this lucid study, Michael Pembroke charts the rise of the "American century”, the subsequent decline of US power and the rise in the 21st century of China and Asian economies. Among other things, he examines US ”exceptionalism”, the divisions among various leaders in regard to it, and the variegated quality of leadership, ending with the dangerously confrontational policies of the Trump administration.


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America in Retreat: How the US let China get ahead in the race for world domination

Business Post – 28 February 2021


A lucid and succinct chronicle of the US’s decline in status as world leader and the rise of China to take its place

Michael Pembroke’s nimble, lucid, and succinct America in Retreat consists of two main parts: tracking how the US betrayed its international supremacy during the last 75 years and charting the unassailable rise of China since the turn of the century. Pembroke fashions a pertinent, largely persuasive thesis that balances a focus on recent events with a recognition of history's broader sweep.

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America on the world stage, past and present. A review of Michael Pembroke’s ‘Play by the Rules’

The Mandarin – 15 September 2020


Play by the Rules – The Short Story of America’s Leadership: From Hiroshima to COVID-19 is a well-crafted and concise read about the moral decline of a once great nation. A decline that has led to diminished authority on the world stage and to the ushering in of today’s unfolding global power shift.

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Daily Review: A legal approach to the decline and fall of the United States

Daily Review – 8 October 2020


Pembroke has presented a strong case that the United States is on a downward path, and China will continue to rise. The book puts many current political debates into context, such as the Victorian Government, accepting funds for infrastructure from the Belts and Road Initiative from the Chinese Government. It raises some real questions about the wisdom of the approach of the Australian Government to banning telecommunication companies such as Huawei.

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Play by the Rules

Bar News – October 2020


Pembroke’s writing style is highly readable and engrossing, even when describing detailed historical events. I read this book over a weekend, but I am still reflecting on much that it had to say. I recommend it as an ideal summer read for those craving a non-fiction book with relevance to current events; and as a Christmas present for all but American unilateralists and ardent Trump supporters.

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From Architect of Global Power to Rogue Imperial Power

Morning Star - March 2021

Pembroke provides a useful historical survey of America’s journey from architect of the global order at the end of World War II towards a rogue imperial power that increasingly defies or decouples itself from all legal constraints to its actions.

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