Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776

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9780395830857: Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776

Promised Land, Crusader State, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Walter McDougall, is an iconoclastic reinterpretation of the traditions that have shaped U.S. foreign policy from 1776 to the present. Entertaining, fast-paced, and learned, it exposes the myths that obscure the real meaning of such concepts as American Exceptionalism, Isolationism, Manifest Destiny, Wilsonianism, and Containment. Taking up the torch of George Kennan, McDougall proposes nothing less than to cleanse the vocabulary of our sterile post-Cold War debate on America's role in the world. Looking back over two centuries, he draws a striking contrast between America as a Promised Land, a vision that inspired the "Old Testament" of our diplomatic wisdom through the nineteenth century, and the contrary vision of America as a Crusader State, which inspired the "New Testament" of our foreign policy beginning at the time of the Spanish-American War and reaching its fulfillment in Vietnam. To this day, these two vi

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Review:

When the Cold War ended and left the United States without one clear, monolithic enemy or ideology to battle, a hint of confusion and indecisiveness entered U.S. foreign policy, revealing weaknesses in the American diplomatic tradition. However, According to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Walter A. McDougall, this confusion was not a result of the Cold War, but rather made more visible by the absence of a looming conflict. Reaching back to 1776 to analyze the foreign policy decisions made during the U.S. progression to superpower, McDougall reveals the numerous paradoxes present in American foreign policy.

Beginning with the original intentions of the Founding Fathers and the various interpretations of those ideals over the years, he deconstructs the role of the U.S. in global affairs, questioning both the logic and motives of how the nation deals with friend and foe. One of McDougall's major contentions centers on efforts to affect other countries' policies and governments by projecting U.S. standards or choices on them. He is particularly concerned with what he views as an overextension of resources and wisdom, and the glaring hypocrisy such efforts reveal. He points to several examples of how time and energy was wasted trying to change those who were uninterested or unwilling. As McDougall points out lucidly and convincingly in Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter With the World Since 1776, one nation cannot cure the major ills of another, and the price of such an attempt is too great to risk.

About the Author:

Walter A. McDougall received the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1986. A professor of international relations and history at the University of Pennsylvania and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Reasearch Institute, he lives in Philadelphia.

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