Scholars' Library: Joseph Nye on 'A Life in the American Century' - Online

For our May Scholars’ Library event, Joseph Nye (New Jersey & Exeter 1958) will discuss his new memoir A Life in the American Century. In conversation with fellow Scholar Ziyi Wang (China & Queen’s 2021), amongst other topics, Joseph will talk about power and political leadership, his personal journey between Harvard and Washington, life in Oxford in the late 50’s, and how US academia and government have changed over the years.

For the past eight decades, we have lived in “the American Century” – a period during which the US has enjoyed unrivalled power – be it political, economic or military – on the global stage. Born on the cusp of this new era, Joseph S. Nye Jr. has spent a lifetime illuminating our understanding of the changing contours of America power and world affairs. His many books on the nature of power and political leadership have rightly earned him his reputation as one of the most influential international relations scholars in the world today.

In this deeply personal book, Joseph Nye shares his own journey living through the American century. From his early years growing up on a farm in rural New Jersey to his time in the State Department, Pentagon and Intelligence Community during the Carter and Clinton administrations where he witnessed American power up close, shaping policy on key issues such as nuclear proliferation and East Asian security. After 9/11 drew the US into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nye remained an astute observer and critic of the Bush, Obama and Trump presidencies. Today American primacy may be changing, but he concludes with a faint ray of guarded optimism about the future of his country in a richer but riskier world.

Part of the Lifelong Fellowship portfolio, The Scholars’ Library is a monthly book talk series, where Rhodes alumni can come together to present, discover and debate their literary works. If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to Georgie Thurston at

You can read more about this event and the speaker here: