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It was Thomas Jefferson who envisioned the United States as a great empire of liberty.” This paradoxical phrase may be the key to the American saga: How could the anti-empire of 1776 became the world’s greatest superpower? And how did the country that offered unmatched liberty nevertheless found its prosperity on slavery and the dispossession of Native Americans?
In this new single-volume history spanning the entire course of US history from 1776 through the election of Barack Obama prize-winning historian David Reynolds explains how tensions between empire and liberty have often been resolved by faith both the evangelical Protestantism that has energized American politics for centuries and the larger faith in American righteousness that has driven the country’s expansion.
Written with verve and insight, Empire of Liberty brilliantly depicts America in all of its many contradictions.
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David Reynolds is a professor of international history at Cambridge University. He has held visiting positions at Harvard and at Nihon University in Tokyo and is the author of eight books, including Summits and In Command of History, which was awarded the Wolfson Prize, Britain’s highest honor for the writing of history, and selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He lives in Cambridge, England.From Publishers Weekly:
In an animated overview up to the present time, Cambridge historian Reynolds (In Command of History) captures the sprawling chronicle of a nation forged from the fires of revolution, populated by immigrants and constantly evolving politically and culturally. Reynolds constructs his story around the richly, sometimes fatally ambiguous themes of empire, liberty and faith in the nation's development. The American colonists who overthrew an imperial government themselves created an empire based on manifest destiny and removal of Native Americans to reservations. As for liberty, Reynolds reminds us that it was built on the backs of black slaves, but white Americans were free from the intrusion of the federal government in their personal lives until the New Deal, which dramatically changed the nature of American liberty. The development of religious denominations in America contributed moral fervor to many progressive causes, such as temperance, and animated America in the cold war and George W. Bush's war on terror. Reynolds draws on letters and other documents from ordinary Americans to show the uneasy relationship among empire, liberty and faith. Most readers will find Reynolds's epic overview provocative and enjoyable. 3 maps. (Nov.)
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