About the Book

Superpower Syndrome

Superpower Syndrome

America’s Apocalyptic Confrontation with the World
October 2003
Trade Paperback · 200 Pages
$12.95 U.S. · $19.50 CAN
ISBN 9781560255123
Nation Books


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The apocalyptic imagination has spawned a new kind of violence at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In Superpower Syndrome, psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton describes two competing visions—Islamist and American—each aimed at massive destruction in the name of global purification and renewal. While Islamist extremists are overtly visionary in their willingness to kill and die for their religion, American forces claim restraint and reason while offering a no less visionary program for their overwhelming military power to remake the world.
Both sides are energized by versions of intense idealism; both see themselves combating evil in order redeem and renew the world; both are ready to unleash untold levels of violence to achieve their aims; each sees itself in a face-off with the other, and both are engaged in a cycle of violence to which no end is in sight.
No one is better equipped than Lifton to make sense of this extreme moment. In the wake of 9/11, America feels painfully vulnerable and thinks of itself as survivor nation. Such feelings have been mobilized by an Administration that finds the very idea of weakness unbearable, which has unprecedented military power, and which is bent on controlling history. This lethal combination adds up to a superpower syndrome.
Robert Jay Lifton is the author of Superpower Syndrome and of Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima, which won a National Book Award.