The collapse of the Soviet Union has produced many dramatic effects, some positive--the end of the Cold War, disarmament, self-determination for Central Europe--and others quite negative--ethnic conflict in the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and general instability in the region. In a thorough analysis of the Soviet case, Britain, Austria-Hungary, Germany, and the United States, this timely study examines why great powers fall. The contributors examine the wide-ranging consequences of the fall of great powers for peace and stability in the world. They focus much attention on the tension between stability and legitimacy and between a peaceful and just democratic order. The contributors include many of the world's leading experts in their respective fields, among them Paul Kennedy, John Gaddis, William McNeill and Immanuel Wallerstein.