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A study of imperialism that stretches from ancient Rome to the post-Cold War World, this provocative work boldly revises our assumptions about the genealogy of the West. Rather than locating its source in classical Greece, William V. Spanos argues, we should look to ancient Rome, which first articulated the ideas that would become fundamental to the West's imperial project. These founding ideas, he claims, have informed the American national identity and its foreign policy from its origins.
The Vietnam War is at the center of this book. In the contradiction between the "free world" logic employed to justify U.S. intervention in Vietnam and the genocidal practices used to realize that logic, Spanos finds the culmination of an imperialistic discourse reaching back to the colonizing rationale of the Roman Empire. Spanos identifies the language of expansion in the "white" metaphors in Western philosophical discourse since the colonization of Greek thought by the Romans. He shows how these metaphors, and their role in metaphysical discourse, have long been complicit in the violence of imperialism.
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William V. Spanos is a Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at Binghamton University. A founding editor of the critical journal boundary 2, he is the author of several books, including America's Shadow: An Anatomy of Empire.
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