Dissenting Voices in America's Rise to Power

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This book offers a major rereading of US foreign policy from Thomas Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana expanse to the Korean War. This period of one hundred and fifty years saw the expansion of the United States from fragile republic to transcontinental giant. David Mayers explores the dissenting voices which accompanied this dramatic ascent, focusing on dissenters within the political and military establishment and on the recurrent patterns of dissent that have transcended particular policies and crises. The most stubborn of these sprang from anxiety over the material and political costs of empire while other strands of dissent have been rooted in ideas of exigent justice, realpolitik, and moral duties existing beyond borders. Such dissent is evident again in the contemporary world when the US occupies the position of preeminent global power. Professor Mayers's study reminds us that America's path to power was not as straightforward as it might now seem.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Professor David Mayers of Boston University brings to life the many establishment dissenters in the history of American foreign policy in the 19th and 20th century. Superbly researched and written in an engaging style, Dissenting Voices shows that the predominant narrative of a virtually pre-determined American ascendancy to global power was consistently questioned from within, particularly due to concerns over the material and political costs of building and maintaining an empire. This is a wonderful anidote to the many works that present Americans consistently united behind an expansive foreign policy."
-Jussi M. Hanhimaki, Professor of International History and Politics, Graduate Institute of International Studies and author of The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy

"Dissent has regularly suffused U.S. policy formulation and implementation. In his latest book, Professor Mayers highlights the array of notable dissenters who have over the years challenged major presidential foreign policy initiatives. Inter alia, their often passionate denunciations targeted contentious land acquisitions, whether obtained through legitimate purchase or coercive wars with Mexico and Spain, despoiling Indian relocation-assimilation schemes; a four year long sanguinary turn of the century conquest of the Philippines; or, in the twentieth century, what some castigated as a series of hubristic, hegemonic and costly U.S. military interventions abroad for misrepresented reasons. Meticulously researched and documented, scholarly yet eminently readable, the book offers not only useful historical insights but also foreshadows the still ongoing American public debate over the unresolved Iraq conflict."
-Hermann Fr. Eilts, Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1965-1970) and Egypt (1974-1979)

"David Mayers, the author of several outstanding studies in the history of American foreign policy, makes the "dissenting tradition" come alive in the present work, with carefully drawn portraits of the debates over major diplomatic episodes from the Louisiana Purchase to the present day. The biographical portraits of diverse figures add fascinating detail to a well-conceived analytical scheme. The author develops with a sure touch important patterns and recurrent themes in the thought of various dissenters. This splendid and erudite work belongs on the bookshelf of every student of American diplomatic history."
-David Hendrickson, Robert J. Fox Distinguished Service Professor at Colorado College and author of Peace Pact: The Lost World of the American Founding

"Dissenting Voices in America's Rise to Power makes an outstanding contribution to diplomatic history. [...]in stringing together the stories of American dissent, Mayers gives them a new weight. Taken as a whole, the book succeeds admirably in illuminating the durability and thematic consistency of opposition, revealing it to be the rule rather than the exception in American diplomatic history."
-Andrew Huebner, Reviews in American History

"For its readers' pleasure, David Meyer's book is a discordant voice in today's oft-complacent historiography of the United States as hyperpower. It breaks with the monotonous tale of the American people's quasi-unanimous support of their country's rise to power and of the unavoidable foreign-policy consensus in time of crisis. [...] All diplomatic historians will greatly benefit from his work."
-Serge Ricard, University of Paris III, The International History Review

"This book is a significant counterweight to recent foreign policy literature that has championed America's rise from a backwater, 19th century republic to the lone global superpower. The ascent of the US, as Mayers (Boston Univ.), persuasively argues was not clear cut or predictable." -Choice

"...extremely engaging and extensively researched...a book that is utterly fascinating to anyone with an interest in the emergence of the US as a world power. This book would be an excellent choice for a textbook in upper division undergraduate and graduate courses in US foreign policy." —Caryn Neumann, Miami University of Ohio: Canadian Journal of History

"This book is a significant counterweight to recent foreign policy literature that has championed AMerica's rise from a backwater, 19th-century republic to the lone global superpower...Highly recommended." —CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521872553
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Pages: 458
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor David Mayers teaches at Boston University, where he holds joint appointment sin the History and Political Science departments. His previous publications include GEORGE KENNAN and the DILEMMAS of US FOREIGN POLICY (1988); THE AMBASSADORS and AMERICA'S SOVIET POLICY (1995); Wars and Peace: The FUTURE AMERICANS ENVISIONED, 1861–1991 (1998). His new research underway deals with FDR's wartime diplomacy.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. Expansion: 1. Louisiana; 2. 1812, 53; 3. Greece; 4. Removals; Part II. Conquests: 5. Mexico; 6. Russia, 221; 7. Reservations; 8. Philippines; Part III. Hazards: 9. Armageddon; 10. Axis; 11. Containment;12. Dissenters; Bibliography; Index.

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