An incredibly detailed and complex read, I would only recommend this to the history buff who is not only endlessly curious, but has some prior knowledge of Great Power history in the last 5 centuries. The amount of detail discussed upon is insane, and the author manages to paint the economic, social, military and political aspects of the powers in broad strokes, while using tables, graphs and good ol' quotations. But this book is more than just a narrative description - it is an analysis, and a very good one at that. The writing is clear, non-adorned and very easily understood in general.
Bear in mind that this was published in 1987. Why do I say that Well, because one of the Great Powers discussed at length is Russia - which at the time of writing this book, the author knew better as the USSR. At that point in time, the communist bloc was still in force, so the 1989 Autumn of the Nations (communist breakaway of Poland, Hungary, Checkoslovakia and Romania), the fall of the Berlin Wall (and thus the unification of West and East Germany, the latter once again breaking from communism) and finally, the big bad boy of 1991 and the fracturing of the Soviet Union into fifteen different states - these were all still a few years away. Just as well, while discussing European powers, within the 20th Century the author refers to them as EEC countries - because the creation of the European Union (which was going to absorb EEC and become sort of a continuation) was still some time away. When it comes to economy, the book discussed at length various different budgets and coinage, but it does not (and could not) discuss the Euro, which was only introduced in 1999. While it would have been fascinating to know the author's opinion on these changes, do know that his analysis ends in 1987 and thus does not address these monumental shifts. However,
if you're interested in Great Power play (that sounds kinky) in the last 500 years, this is certainly the book for you.