From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776

From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776

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by George C. Herring
     
 

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The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multi-volume history of our nation in print. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize-winners, a New York Times bestseller, and winners of prestigious Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. From Colony to Superpower is the only thematic volume commissioned for the series. Here George C. Herring uses

Overview

The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multi-volume history of our nation in print. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize-winners, a New York Times bestseller, and winners of prestigious Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. From Colony to Superpower is the only thematic volume commissioned for the series. Here George C. Herring uses foreign relations as the lens through which to tell the story of America's dramatic rise from thirteen disparate colonies huddled along the Atlantic coast to the world's greatest superpower. A sweeping account of United States' foreign relations and diplomacy, this magisterial volume documents America's interaction with other peoples and nations of the world. Herring tells a story of stunning successes and sometimes tragic failures, captured in a fast-paced narrative that illuminates the central importance of foreign relations to the existence and survival of the nation, and highlights its ongoing impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. He shows how policymakers defined American interests broadly to include territorial expansion, access to growing markets, and the spread of an "American way" of life. And Herring does all this in a story rich in human drama and filled with epic events. Statesmen such as Benjamin Franklin and Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman and Dean Acheson played key roles in America's rise to world power. But America's expansion as a nation also owes much to the adventurers and explorers, the sea captains, merchants and captains of industry, the missionaries and diplomats, who discovered or charted new lands, developed new avenues of commerce, and established and defended the nation's interests in foreign lands. From the American Revolution to the fifty-year struggle with communism and conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, From Colony to Superpower tells the dramatic story of America's emergence as superpower--its birth in revolution, its troubled present, and its uncertain future.

Editorial Reviews

Josef Joffe
The strength of this book is the author's Herculean power of synthesis. Ours is the age of merciless specialization—no grand prizes for grand sweeps. Yet Herring recaptures a quarter-millennium of American foreign policy with fluidity and felicity.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

This latest entry in the outstanding Oxford History of the United States is continually engrossing in its overview of American diplomacy. Herring (America's Longest War), an authority on the history of American foreign policy, emphasizes that George Washington's 1796 farewell was not a call for isolationism but simply a warning to be careful in forming alliances; America was already enmeshed in the bitter war between Britain and France. Herring details how aggressively U.S. diplomats and soldiers pressured Spain, Mexico and Britain to yield territory as the nation expanded. The passion for spreading American ideals reached its first peak after WWI with Woodrow Wilson, whose principles the author admires though many, such as national self-determination, have proved disastrous. Entering the 21st century, the U.S. was at its peak as the world's sole superpower. Herring take his narrative up through 9/11, the rise of the renewed passion, led by neoconservatives, to spread democracy and the war in Iraq, whose only winner, Herring says, is Iran. Herring's lucid prose and thought-provoking arguments give this large tome a pace that never flags. 51 b&w illus. (Oct.)

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Library Journal

Herring (history, emeritus, Univ. of Kentucky; America's Longest War) has created a verbal monument to the place of the United States in the world. The only themed volume so far in the "Oxford History of the United States" series, this work portrays the history of the world's foremost republic through the prism of its international interactions. Striking is the emergence, through Herring's clear and compelling storytelling, of certain themes in the way the United States has conducted and still conducts itself among nations. Through Herring's methodical presentation of the facts we see a nation alternately petty and grasping, magnanimous and generous, a nation propelled to greatness by equal amounts of arrogance, racism, and greed but most of all by a genuine desire to make of the world something better. The author's quick character sketches of the actors who move this narrative forward bring life to a subject that could, in less skilled hands, easily induce tedium. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.
—Michael F. Russo

From the Publisher

Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

"The strength of this book is the author's Herculean power of synthesis...Herring recaptures a quarter-millennium of American foreign policy with fluidity and felicity...we have long been waiting for a single-volume history like this one, and "From Colony to Superpower" deserves a place on the bookshelf."--New York Times Book Review

"Its first achievement is its feat of inclusiveness, managed by making quick work of many interesting subplots of the United States' rich and complex relations with the world...The narrative power lies partly in identifying themes that gradually give a strong organizational cohesion to his story...It is revisionism of the best kind, quiet but insistent, reinforced by archival evidence and deftly drawn parallels."--Howard W. French, The New York Times

"An impressive, up-to-date diplomatic history of the US that masterfully employs traditional, revisionnist, and in many instances synthetic interpretations in a story line from Colonial America to the second Bush administration.... This will be an award-winning book that becomes the standard text for US diplomatic history. A superb accomplishment. Essential."--C.W. Haury, CHOICE

"The only volume in the series that spans the entirety of the American past, From Colony to Superpower could not be more timely, more colorful, or more compelling for Americans seeking to understand the causes and the consequences of the quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq. Herring is well equipped to provide that analysis."--The Chronicle of Higher Education

"A sweeping and lucid history...This authoritative work is destined to grace the bookshelves not only of scholars, but also of nonspecialists who want to understand how the US has engaged the world from the American Revolution to the administration of George W. Bush."--Christian Science Monitor

"A model of clarity."--Dallas Morning News

"This latest entry in the outstanding Oxford History of the United States is continually engrossing in its overview of American diplomacy... Herring's lucid prose and thought-provoking arguments give this large tome a pace that never flags."--Publishers Weekly starred review

"The only themed volume so far in the 'Oxford History of the United States' series, this work portrays the history of the world's foremost republic through the prism of its international interactions. Striking is the emergence, through Herring's clear and compelling storytelling, of certain themes in the way the United States has conducted and still conducts itself among nations...Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries."--Library Journal

"A magisterial look at 232 years of diplomacy."--Reviews in American History

"Magisterial."--National Interest

"A mammoth volume that tracks the vagaries of American foreign policy over more than two centuries. It is encyclopedic in its reach, but remains a pleasurable read. Herring's goal is more to explain than judge, and he performs the former with admirable skill."--Global Research

"George Herring's colossal history of US foreign relations has earned fully-deserved praise for its staggering erudition, lucid prose and brisk style."--The National

"Impeccably written and deeply researched."--The Veteran: The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America

"Riveting."--The Post and Courier

"The purpose of this ambitious and massive work is to track and explain how 13 separate, vulnerable British colonies evolved to carve out a position of dominance in world affairs. This is the latest volume in the Oxford History of the United States series...Herring effectively dismisses the myth of American isolationism. Even before our Revolution, Americans had strong economic ties with several European powers, and our diplomatic efforts were essential in facilitating the westward movement. Herring also deftly deals with the often-conflicting strains of idealism and pragmatism that have motivated our policy makers. Patient and well-informed general readers will find this well worth the effort."--Booklist

"In this splendidly detailed account, George Herring expertly guides us through the rich and fascinating story of America's foreign relations. This is history on a grand scale, clearly and elegantly rendered. Anyone who wants to understand how the United States has come to occupy its current place on the world stage should read this magisterial book."--Fredrik Logevall, co-author of A People and a Nation

"Readers of his work knew that George Herring's review of U.S. foreign policy would be scrupulously fair-minded but may not have anticipated so broad a sweep and so deeply felt an analysis. In swift and highly readable prose, Professor Herring explains us unforgettably to ourselves."--A. J. Langguth, author of Our Vietnam

"Authored by a distinguished historian of American foreign policy, this is a landmark work in its scope, clarity of writing, depth of research, and significant interpretations of, among others, the 'myth' of historic American isolationism, the revealing relationships between how Americans behave at home and how they behave abroad, a most bittersweet Cold War, and the centuries-long dependence of Americans on beliefs in their supposed exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny. It offers a most rewarding lesson about how the history of U.S. foreign policy is to be examined, if not always, given the policy's often tragic results, praised."--Walter LaFeber, Cornell University

"George Herring's well-paced, readable, and up-to-date history of U.S. foreign relations will be the authoritative account for this generation."--Emily S. Rosenberg, University of California, Irvine

"In this splendidly detailed account, George Herring expertly guides us through the rich and fascinating story of America's foreign relations. This is history on a grand scale, clearly and elegantly rendered. Anyone who wants to understand how the United States has come to occupy its current place on the world stage should read this magisterial book."--Fredrik Logevall, co-author of A People and a Nation

"Readers of his work knew that George Herring's review of U.S. foreign policy would be scrupulously fair-minded but may not have anticipated so broad a sweep and so deeply felt an analysis. In swift and highly readable prose, Professor Herring explains us unforgettably to ourselves."--A. J. Langguth, author of Our Vietnam

"Authored by a distinguished historian of American foreign policy, this is a landmark work in its scope, clarity of writing, depth of research, and significant interpretations of, among others, the 'myth' of historic American isolationism, the revealing relationships between how Americans behave at home and how they behave abroad, a most bittersweet Cold War, and the centuries-long dependence of Americans on beliefs in their supposed exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny. It offers a most rewarding lesson about how the history of U.S. foreign policy is to be examined, if not always, given the policy's often tragic results, praised."--Walter LaFeber, Cornell University

"George Herring's well-paced, readable, and up-to-date history of U.S. foreign relations will be the authoritative account for this generation."--Emily S. Rosenberg, University of California, Irvine

"Blend[s] thorough treatment and engaging style to bridge the divide between scholarly expert and interested reader.... A thorough, accurate, detailed delineation of the chief policy initiatives of an era."--Books and Culture

"A rewarding literary sojourn through the evolution of American foreign policy.... A most worthy addition to any historian's library."--Sea History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199743773
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/28/2008
Series:
Oxford History of the United States Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
272,068
File size:
7 MB

Meet the Author

George C. Herring is Alumni Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Kentucky. A leading authority on U.S. foreign relations, he is the former editor of Diplomatic History and a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. He is the author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975, among other books.

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