top of page
Book cover.jpg

A provocative and urgent analysis of the U.S.-China rivalry. 

It is conventional wisdom that America and China are running a “superpower marathon” that may last a century. But the sharpest phase of that competition will be a decade-long sprint, and the moment of maximum danger could be just a few years away.


China has entered the most perilous period in the life of a great power: it has gained the capability to upend the existing international order, but is not yet secure or powerful enough to build a new order, and soon its window to act will slam shut—unless it takes drastic action.


China is behaving so aggressively in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, and other areas not because it is a confident, rising power, but because it is a peaking power whose economy is slowing while its rivals multiply. America will still need a long-term strategy for competing with China. But first, it needs a near-term strategy for navigating the danger zone ahead. 

Order Now

"Cogently excellent book really worth reading."

 —The Financial Times

“Brilliant and engagingly written, this warning by two outstanding scholars is especially timely in light of recent events. Are Americans ready for what may be coming? They will be better prepared if they read this book.”

 —Robert Kagan, author of The Ghost at the Feast: America and the Collapse of World Order, 1900-1941


"Hal Brands and Michael Beckley powerfully argue that an enormously ambitious China is peaking now and confrontation is coming sooner than we think. This well written, must-read book will add a sense of urgency to the national debate about strategic competition."  

Ambassador (ret.) Eric S. Edelman, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2005-2009).


"Unflinching and historically grounded, provocative and richly researched, this refreshing, pioneering work delivers a necessary corrective to narrow thinking and relaxed timelines in dealing with China. Beckley and Brands’ ideas need to be embraced."

—General Jim Mattis, U.S. Marines (ret.) and 26th Secretary of Defense

"In this brilliant and urgently important book, Hal Brands and Michael Beckley explain why the threat of war with China will likely peak in this decade--when China's global power and ambition for primacy are swelling just as it faces severe demographic, economic, and political strains on the horizon. Every US foreign policy maker and thinker should read this book and heed their call to rapidly mobilize the strategy, strength, and alliances to navigate through this danger zone."

—Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Anchor 1

A critically-acclaimed analysis of the global balance of power.

The United States has been the world's dominant power for more than a century. Now many analysts believe China is taking its place. Is America finished as a superpower?

In this book, Michael Beckley shows that the United States has unique advantages that, if used wisely, will allow it to remain the world’s sole superpower throughout this century. 

Deeply researched, this book covers hundreds of years of great power politics and develops new methods for measuring power and predicting the rise and fall of nations. By charting long-term economic, military, and political trends, the book provides essential guidance for policymakers, businesspeople, and scholars alike.

Preview Chapter 1           Order the book

"Beckley demonstrates that no country is poised to upend American primacy, not economically, not militarily, and not technologically.  The evidence he assembles should be part of any serious debate about where we are headed."

—The New York Times

"A richly detailed study of Chinese military and economic weaknesses. Americans need to hear this perspective of confidence."

—The Atlantic



—John Mearsheimer, University of Chicago

"Smart and sophisticated."

—Foreign Affairs

"Thoughtful and compelling."

—Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group

"Unrivaled may be the most important book of our era."

—Major General Perry Smith, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

"Simply the best book written on the sources of U.S. primacy."

—Nuno Monteiro, Yale University

"A scholarly tour de force."  

—William C. Wohlforth, Dartmouth College

"Terrific, insightful, and persuasive.  Unrivaled should be required reading for scholars and policymakers.”  

—M. Taylor Fravel, M.I.T.

"A devastating and definitive critique of the idea that we are witnessing the end of the American era. Unrivaled will quickly become a classic in international security studies."  

—Keir Lieber, Georgetown University 

"Michael Beckley demolishes the current China hype. 'America's edge will endure' is the message of his book, and it is argued with academic rigor, felicity of style, and compelling numbers. Unrivaled will overturn many clichés about America's 'decline' while greatly improving the intelligence of the debate."

 —Josef Joffe, Stanford University

"Beckley brings empirical facts and cool analysis to an issue often dominated by overheated rhetoric...this is an important and notable piece that shows how rigorous academic research can inform our understanding of major policy debates."  

—The National Interest

"In sharp and scholarly fashion, Beckley provides a valuable analytical framework for assessing the power of nations.  This precise and proficient work will be much appreciated by scholars and policymakers."  

—Publishers Weekly

"An important new book.  Beckley is convincing that the United States is the most efficient producer of power on the planet."

—Harvey Sapolsky, M.I.T.

"This is an excellent book.  It makes a provocative argument backed up by an abundance of evidence and develops important theoretical points about the measurement of power.  It is also beautifully written."  

—Stephen Walt, Harvard University

"Is the United States in decline? In this fascinating and well written book, Michael Beckley argues that the United States is and will remain the world’s sole superpower. Beckley’s novel theory emphasizes the national production, welfare, and security costs that influence relative national power. Drawing on a broad array of sources, he shows that his theory explains changes in the economic and military balance of power over the last 200 years, and that the narrative of American decline and China’s rise is therefore flawed. This important book challenges conventional wisdom and should be read by scholars and policymakers alike."  

— Michael C. Horowitz, University of Pennsylvania

Beckley's Unrivaled is by far the most comprehensive analysis to date on the power dynamics of the international system and clearly debunks the established narratives on U.S. decline.

—Vasilis Trigkas, Tsinghua University

A concise but detailed provocation, Unrivaled breaks methodological ground to offer a novel assessment of America's position in world affairs. One hopes that it finds a high-level audience in both Washington and Beijing: the United States would be less likely to succumb to fatalism were it to understand more thoroughly its bases of power and China's corresponding points of weakness; China, in turn, would be less likely to succumb to hubris.

—Ali Wyne, RAND Corporation

bottom of page