The Eagle Triumphant: How America Took Over the British Empire

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9780471646655: The Eagle Triumphant: How America Took Over the British Empire
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Acclaim for Robert Smith Thompson

The eagle triumphant

"The transition from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana is surely one of the most significant developments of the past century. With lively and vivid portrayals of the major personalities and crucial events, Thompson outlines the planning and institutional forces by which U.S. leaders took the place of their former British rival."
–Noam Chomsky

Empires on the Pacific

"Boldly sets out to explain how we came to be the only superpower on this planet."
–Los Angeles Times

"A truly important and complex new interpretation–an antidote really–to those jingoists who continue to frame the Second World War as a battle between good (the U.S.) and evil (Japan)."
–Douglas Brinkley

"Empires on the Pacific is to be celebrated as one of the best accounts available of the war against Japan."
–Toronto Globe & Mail

A Time for War

"Intriguing. . . . This book is the clearest exposition so far of the revisionist theory of U.S. provocation of Germany and Japan."
–Publishers Weekly

"Provocative revisionist history that could stimulate a widespread reevaluation of the traditional view of why America entered World War II."

–Kirkus Reviews

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From the Inside Flap:

Though many Americans are reluctant to admit it, the United States has long been an imperial power–a fact that has become increasingly evident since the war in Iraq. Now, in this provocative book, historian Robert Smith Thompson examines the origins of the American empire in the period spanning the two world wars. Confounding the conventional view of early-twentieth-century America–an idealistic, isolationist nation only reluctantly drawn into world affairs–he shows how the United States deliberately set out to dismantle the British Empire and take over its spheres of influence.

Vividly capturing the personalities and events that precipitated the American imperium–from Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill to the sinking of the Lusitania, the advent of Lend-Lease, and the conference at Yalta–Thompson argues that U.S. ascendance began with Britain’s decision to enter World War I. Though Britain helped engineer America’s subsequent entry into that war, President Wilson’s Fourteen Points called not only for the defeat of Germany, but for the dissolution of British and French colonial empires–a goal that persisted in succeeding American administrations, and not merely for Wilson’s ideal of "self-determination": colonial empires were restricted markets, but freed colonies would be free to trade with the United States.

In the interwar years, American troops demobilized, but American money carried the day, prying open markets as Britain’s imperial possessions seethed with rebellion. After tariff wars and the depression in the 1930s, and then Dunkirk and the 1940 German bombing campaign, Britain was broke. By the time President Roosevelt began supplying Churchill with Lend-Lease war materiel, the country had become an American vassal–a fact that Roosevelt exploited throughout the war as he set the stage for a new world order under American dominion. At the war’s end, Britain was largely irrelevant: its empire was dissolving and its client states were cutting deals with the United States. It was America that would go on to rebuild Europe and Japan, envelop the world with money and military bases, and play an updated version of Britain’s nineteenth-century "great game"–the containment of Russia.

By meticulously tracking the transition from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana, Thompson clarifies the original aims and scope of America’s empire–and offers a unique historical perspective on recent events in the Middle East.

About the Author:

Robert Smith Thompson is currently a professor of international relations at South Carolina University. His books include Empires on the Pacific: World War II and the Struggle for the Mastery of Asia; A Time for War: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Path to Pearl Harbor; and The Missiles of October: The Declassified Story of John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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