What We Are Reading Today: Empires of the Weak by J. C. Sharman

Updated 19 January 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Empires of the Weak by J. C. Sharman

  • New book demonstrates that the rise of the West was an exception in the prevailing world order.

What accounts for the rise of the state, the creation of the first global system, and the dominance of the West? The conventional answer asserts that superior technology, tactics, and institutions forged by Darwinian military competition gave Europeans a decisive advantage in war over other civilizations. 

In contrast, Empires of the Weak argues that Europeans actually had no general military superiority in the early modern era. J.C. Sharman shows instead that European expansion from the late 15th to the late 18th centuries is better explained by deference to strong Asian and African polities, diseases in the Americas, and maritime supremacy earned by default because local land-oriented polities were largely indifferent to war and trade at sea. Europeans were overawed by the mighty Eastern empires of the day, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. 

Bringing a revisionist perspective to the idea that Europe ruled the world due to military dominance, Empires of the Weak demonstrates that the rise of the West was an exception in the prevailing world order.


Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson leads Forbes list of highest-paid actors

Updated 21 August 2019

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson leads Forbes list of highest-paid actors

  • Last year, Johnson was second behind George Clooney
  • Includes his salary and a share of profits from films, $700,000 per episode of HBO series “Ballers”

LOS ANGELES: Action movie hero Dwayne Johnson, star of the “Jumanji” and “Fast and Furious” franchises, topped the annual list of the world’s highest-paid actors, Forbes magazine reported on Wednesday.
Johnson, the former wrestler once known as The Rock, pulled in $89.4 million from June 2018 to June 2019, the magazine said.
That includes his salary and a share of profits from films, $700,000 per episode of HBO series “Ballers,” and seven figures in royalties from his line of clothing, shoes and headphones with Under Armor.
Last year, Johnson was second behind George Clooney, who reaped a windfall from the sale of his tequila company.
Next on this year’s list were two stars of “Avengers: Endgame,” the highest-grossing movie of all time.
Chris Hemsworth, who played Thor, took in $76.4 million, while Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. earned $66 million, Forbes said.
Other “Endgame” stars — Bradley Cooper, Chris Evans and Paul Rudd — also landed in the top 10.
Most of Cooper’s earnings, however, came from “A Star is Born,” the musical drama he directed, produced, co-wrote and starred in with Lady Gaga. Cooper collected $40 million of his $57 million total from that film, Forbes said.
The fourth-biggest earner was Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, with $65 million, and Hong Kong-born actor and martial artist Jackie Chan with $58 million.
The figures are pre-tax and do not include deductions for fees given to agents, managers and lawyers, Forbes said.