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Gray Zone Research

History teaches, if we will listen.

Sir John Glubb was a British intelligence officer who served in World War I, World War II, and several small wars. In the 1970s, he published The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival, a history lesson about the birth, life, and death of empires.

He concluded that empires last roughly 250 years, or 10 generations. Some longer, some shorter, but Glubb’s research makes a strong case for that being the general rule.

Several years after reading Glubb, I came across the research of Estonian political scientist Rein Taagepera, who had similar findings. His calculation of the rise-peak-decline of an empire averaged 2.7 centuries, or 270 years — very close to Glubb’s 250 years. I think there’s something to this research.

We may be just a few years, or perhaps a few decades away from the end of the American Empire. Between what’s happening geopolitically and domestically, we should consider the possibility that we’re living through the decline right now and that what happens in the the near future will be life-changing.

Gray Zone Research

My Quest

Since I became a father last year, I’ve been studying imperial cycles and how empires end because I’m concerned for my son and his generation.

I want to give him every strategic advantage I can, and that starts with learning history. Gray Zone Research is the outgrowth of my own quest to learn and better prepare.

In the first several issues, you’ll find my notes, lessons learned, and distilled knowledge from these books and other study materials:

  • The Encyclopedia of Political Revolutions
  • When States Fail
  • States, Parties, and Social Movements
  • The Collapse of Complex Societies
  • Social Revolutions in the Modern World
  • Strong Societies and Weak States
  • Dying of Money
  • And dozens more…
What is Gray Zone Research?

Gray Zone Research compares what’s happening today with the indicators of history to explain…


Low Intensity Conflict is an umbrella term that describes everything from violent social movements to terrorism, guerrilla warfare, separatist and secessionist movements, insurgency, and popular revolutions. This is the future of America’s domestic conflict.


What is this talk of a “national divorce”? What happens when empires break apart? What can history teach us about how multi-cultural societies fracture and form new political entities? What happens when governments lose legitimacy and citizens develop alternative forms of governance?


The collapse of the American Empire and the dollar’s loss of world reserve status will be simultaneous. One cannot happen without taking the other with it. Does that unleash hyperinflation? New currencies? What happens to money at the end of an empire?


What does history tell us not only about the events, but the risk? What was life like during empire collapse? How did humans react? What are the early warning indicators and civil considerations for the United States? How should we prepare?

A brief message from Mike Shelby, a former intelligence analyst and editor of Gray Zone Research…


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