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Since the end of the Cold War, and especially since September 11, 2001, few issues have been more hotly debated than the United States’ role in the world. In this hard-nosed but sophisticated examination, Colin S. Gray argues that America is the indispensable guardian of the world order. Gray’s constructive critique of recent trends in national security is comprehensive, rooting defense issues and prospective answers in both U.S. national security policy and in the emerging international security environment.

Colin S. Gray, professor of international politics and strategic studies at the University of Reading, England, and senior fellow at the National Institute for Public Policy, is the author of numerous books, including Modern Strategy and Strategy for Chaos: Revolutions in Military Affairs and the Evidence of History. He lives in Berkshire, England.

"A very fine contribution in the field of national security." --Center for Research on Geopolitics

"Highly recommended. This seminal work should be required reading for security policy practitioners." --Choice

"For over 30 years, Colin Gray has been the most consistently brilliant strategic thinker in the English-speaking world. . . . Makes a persuasive case for America's role as sheriff of the new world order." --Claremont Review of Books

"A significant contribution—the metaphor of the U.S. as sheriff is just right. World order is not self-enforcing; but this proposition, which contradicts neorealism's view on the balance of power and is anathema to globalism, suggests to Gray truly sound ideas to help the U.S. understand its proper role in the world to maintain international order." --Mark T. Clark, California State University

"Gray makes a strong case for the U.S. role in regulating international politics." --Naval War Review

"Argues that the United States is, and should continue to be, the world's guardian in the post-11 September 2001 world." --Proceedings

"A must for anyone who wants a serious understanding of the difficult position America is in and why the challenges if faces is wider than Iraq and al-Qaeda. . . . Challenges the reader to think beyond current events." --Survival

"A stellar contribution to the continuing debate over America’s security role in the world. Will definitely make required reading in my seminars. I do not believe it will ever become out of date as it deals with core and enduring principles of U.S. strategy and foreign policy as well as matters of current interest and debate." --William R. Van Cleave, Southwest Missouri State

“Thoughtful as well as prolific. . . . The Sheriff is a rather brief but persuasive argument . . . that the U.S. ought to become . . . a selectively responding ‘sheriff’ acting in its own best interest.” --International Journal of Naval History

"The Sheriff effectively demonstrates why traditional realism, geopolitics, and the cyclical view of history, after 2,500 years, retain their relevance." --Parameters

Named a 2005 Choice Outstanding Academic Title.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






International relations, World politics, United States


International Relations

The Sheriff: America's Defense of the New World Order
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