Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $25.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 54%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (3) from $25.00   
  • New (2) from $80.00   
  • Used (1) from $25.00   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by


Protestant missionaries in Latin America. Colonial "civilizers" in the Pacific. Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa. Since the 1890s, thousands of American teachers—mostly young, white, middle-class, and inexperienced—have fanned out across the globe. Innocents Abroad tells the story of what they intended to teach and what lessons they learned.

Drawing on extensive archives of the teachers' letters and diaries, as well as more recent accounts, Jonathan Zimmerman argues that until the early twentieth century, the teachers assumed their own superiority; they sought to bring civilization, Protestantism, and soap to their host countries. But by the mid-twentieth century, as teachers borrowed the concept of "culture" from influential anthropologists, they became far more self-questioning about their ethical and social assumptions, their educational theories, and the complexity of their role in a foreign society.

Filled with anecdotes and dilemmas—often funny, always vivid—Zimmerman's narrative explores the teachers' shifting attitudes about their country and themselves, in a world that was more unexpected and unsettling than they could have imagined.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review
This is an eloquent history that provides a unique window on American citizen diplomacy during the twentieth century. As American citizens, overseas teachers were often conscious of mediating political worlds, even as they were conscious at personal levels of mediating professional duties, social identities, and moral responsibilities. Zimmerman effectively maps both sets of intersections, thereby thickening descriptions of citizen diplomacy. Overseas teachers were also deployed by organizations in most cases, and the teacher perspectives Zimmerman assembles are important angles of vision on organizational channels of citizen diplomacy, including the U.S. Peace Corps and Christian mission organizations. These aspects of Zimmerman's study will be of interest well beyond the academy, including policy makers and practitioners concerned with international development, church missions, and voluntary sector activities. This is a valuable study, and it deserves a wide readership.
— R. Drew Smith
Zimmerman offers frank analysis of their impressions, ambitions and anxieties--and the cultural and international forces that shaped them. Taking its name from Mark Twain's 1869 work on American encounters overseas, Zimmerman's book shows how what began as a heaven-sent mission to spread the light of American education to the benighted races became, over the course of the century, a source of shame and anxiety for American teachers overseas.
— Rebecca O'Brien
Education Next

This charming history of the missionaries, Peace Corps volunteers, and other idealists who taught in the four corners of the world over the past 100 years is billed by the author and publisher as an examination of our shifting understanding of "culture"...For readers interested in education, though, it offers an even more delicious treat: countless scenes of progressive teachers thwarted in their efforts to export dubious ideas.

History of Education Quarterly

With Innocents Abroad, Jonathan Zimmerman establishes himself as one of the more adroit thinkers among contemporary educational and cultural historians...More than simply a study of Americans teaching overseas throughout the "American Century," then, Innocents Abroad offers a fresh way to think about the seemingly irreconcilable tension underlying the universalist and relativist approaches to culture prevalent in the world today...Offering us insight into the ways that we might value freedom and equality for all people while also respecting diverse worldviews, Innocents Abroad makes a significant contribution to educational and cultural history as well as to our efforts to understand the post-9/11 world in which we live.
Charles Dorn

Journal of American History

In Innocents Abroad, Jonathan Zimmerman provides both an important contribution to historical scholarship and a fascinating glimpse at the lives of a unique group of Americans. This book examines Americans in the twentieth century who went overseas to teach, whether under the auspices of missionary groups or as members of secular groups, most especially the Peace Corps. This is a gracefully written, thoroughly researched, and creatively organized study. It provides a thoughtful and imaginative perspective on how Americans who served as teachers overseas conceived of the American project overseas.
Fritz Fischer

Peace Corps Writers

Teaching abroad, [Zimmerman's] book shows, often led Americans to a deeper understanding of cultural relativity and the imperfections of their own society.
David Espey

Teachers College Record

Through historical analysis and comments on teaching in the new global age, Zimmerman gives readers of Innocents Abroad much to consider.
Christine Ogren

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674023611
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2006
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Zimmerman is Professor of Education and History at the Steinhardt School of Education and in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University. He spent two years as a teacher with the Peace Corps in Nepal.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction: Aboard the USS Thomas     1
American Dilemmas     21
The American Method     23
The American Curriculum     51
Schooling for All?     81
American Critiques     113
The Protective Garb of the "Job"     117
Going Global, or Going It Alone?     152
Ambivalent Imperialists     181
Epilogue: American Teachers in a Global Age     211
Notes     225
Index     291
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)