Picking up the Reins: America and Britain and the Post-War World

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An eloquent and enlightening account of America's postwar assumption of power

Following the devastation of the Second World War and the realization that the damage to Europe was irreparable, the balance of world power shifted across the Atlantic from the old powers of Europe to the extremely visible power of the United States. Historian and journalist Norman Moss looks at this transfer of global rule from the point of view of the changing "special relationship" of the U.S. and ...

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Overview

An eloquent and enlightening account of America's postwar assumption of power

Following the devastation of the Second World War and the realization that the damage to Europe was irreparable, the balance of world power shifted across the Atlantic from the old powers of Europe to the extremely visible power of the United States. Historian and journalist Norman Moss looks at this transfer of global rule from the point of view of the changing "special relationship" of the U.S. and Britain, with the U.S. taking on something like the imperial role that Britain had previously held. Although some had predicted this transfer of roles, few were ready for it whenit happened.

At a time when America's diplomatic role in the world is coming increasingly under scrutiny, Picking Up the Reins looks at the U.S.'s assumption and acceptance of the role of superpower, and its evolution from being an opponent of the concept of empire, to a defender and ultimately an inheritor of the imperial role.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Journalist and historian Moss (Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain, and the Fateful Summer of 1940, 2003, etc.) examines the years 1946-49, when the United States assumed the role of world leader. The end of World War II brought about many significant questions. Would Britain remain a world power? Would the Russians, America's uneasy wartime ally, remain friendly? Would Europe, devastated in nearly every way, simply go belly up? Would Germany revert to its warlike ways? Would America return to its traditional isolationism? We know now that the answer to all these questions was a resounding "no," but at the time the contours of any new world order remained unclear. Readers deeply interested in the period should look elsewhere for detail, but Moss's nutshell version of the creation of the postwar world includes all the major events and cites all the crucial players. Though he alludes to other global episodes that played a role-Mao's assumption of power in China, the Soviet acquisition of the nuclear bomb, the fighting in Palestine between Arabs and Jews-the author focuses on Europe and the transfer of power from Britain to the United States. Moss offers a close-up view of the ravaged British economy, the war weariness of the people and the initial reluctance, then resignation, with which Britain, loath to think itself so weak, passed the baton to the Americans. Against the backdrop of the nascent Cold War, through the Marshall Plan and NATO and out of motives both humanitarian and self-interested, America inserted itself into European affairs with characteristic enthusiasm and cultural insensitivity. Moss adroitly conveys the mixture of relief, resentment, awe and dismay that this shiftengendered, noting that while U.S. military, cultural and economic dominance abides, the mantle of global leadership still rests uneasily on American shoulders. A handy guide to the creation of a world order that remains, in many respects, undisturbed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590201022
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 4/2/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Moss is a journalist and historian, and a former BBC producer. His previous books include Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain and the Fateful Summer of 1940, Men Who Play God: The Story of the Hydrogen Bomb, and Klaus Fuchs: The Man Who Stole the Atom Bomb. Born in Britain, he was educated in New York. He returned to Britain in his twenties and lives today in London.
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Table of Contents

Picking Up The Reins List of Illustrations

1. After Victory
2. Communism and Coca-Cola
3. Like a Young Man Pushed Out on His Own
4. A Speech At Harvard
5. Inventing Europe
6. America to the Rescue
7. Confrontation
8. Committed and Entangled

Notes Bibliography Index

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