On September 26-27, 2003, the Council sponsored a conference at New York University entitled, "Lessons of Empire." Participants focused on whether currently prevalent "empire talk" provides a useful set of concepts for analyzing contemporary US economic, cultural, political and military power. Accounts of particular historical cases or issues were presented in a series of panels organized to encourage comparative assessments. The SSRC is collaborating with The New Press to publish a volume based on the conference. Edited by SSRC President Craig Calhoun, Council Board member Fred Cooper and Program Director Kevin Moore, Lessons of Empire will be the fifth volume in the SSRC/New Press series "After September 11." Here we present three of the essays written for the conference, selected around the theme of the limits of imperial power. We also include a number of quotations from conference papers that deal with related lessons of empire.