Presidents, Diplomats and Other Mortals

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From Abraham Lincoln’s stance on international slavery to George W. Bush’s incursions on the world stage, American presidents and other leaders have taken decisive actions to shape our country’s foreign policy. This new collection of essays provides analytical narratives of how and why policies were devised and implemented that would determine the place of the United States in the international arena from the 1860s to the present. Showing what individuals do—or choose not to do—is central to understanding diplomacy in peace and war.

            These writings—by such prominent historians as Terry H. Anderson and Eugene P. Trani—examine presidents and other diplomats at their best and worst in the practice of statecraft. They take on issues ranging from America’s economic expansion abroad to the relations of democracies with authoritarian leaders and rogue nations to advocacy of such concepts as internationalism, unilateralism, nation building, and regime change. In so doing, they take readers on a virtual tour of American diplomatic history, tracing the ideas and actions of individuals in shaping our foreign policy, whether George F. Kennan as author of Soviet containment or Ronald Reagan as progenitor of “Star Wars.”

            The essays range over a variety of scenarios to depict leaders coming to grips with real-world situations. They offer original views on such topics as American diplomacy toward Nicaragua, origins of U.S. attitudes toward Russia and the Soviet Union, FDR’s idiosyncratic approach to statecraft, and food diplomacy as practiced by LBJ and Richard Nixon. And in considering post-Cold War crises, they address Bill Clinton’s military interventions, George W. Bush’s war against Iraq, and the half-century background to the current nuclear standoff with Iran. Additional articles pay tribute to the outstanding career of Robert H. Ferrell as a scholar and teacher.

            Throughout the volume, the authors seek to exemplify the scholarly standards of narrative diplomatic history espoused by Robert Ferrell—especially the notion that historians should attempt to explain fully the circumstances, opportunities, and pressures that influence foreign policy decisions while remembering that historical actors cannot with certainty predict the outcomes of their actions. Presidents, Diplomats, and Other Mortals is both a collection of compelling historical studies and an overarching case study of the role of individuals in foreign policy making and an insightful review of some of history’s most important moments. Taken together, these essays provide a fitting tribute to Ferrell, the trailblazing scholar in whose honor the book was written.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826217479
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Edition description: index
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Garry Clifford is Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut and among other books coauthor of American Foreign Relations: A History. He lives in Storrs. Theodore A. Wilson is Professor of History at the University of Kansas and coeditor of Makers of American Diplomacy: From Benjamin Franklin to Henry Kissinger as well as other works treating American diplomacy.

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Introduction: Individuals, Narratives, and Diplomatic History   Theodore A. Wilson     1
A Nineteenth-Century Icon
Toward a More Perfect Union: Lincoln and the Death of Slavery   Howard Jones     15
Early Twentieth Century
A Tale of Two Kennans: American-Russian Relations in the Twentieth Century   Eugene P. Trani   Donald E. Davis     31
Our Man in Managua: Lawrence Dennis and the 1926 Nicaraguan Crisis   Richard H. Bradford     56
A Friendly Problem: Washington's Assessment of Anastasio Somoza Garcia   William Kamman     71
FDR: The Sphinx
Blundering on the Brink, 1941: FDR and the 203-202 Vote Reconsidered   J. Garry Clifford   Theodore A. Wilson     99
America and Saudi Arabia, Act I: The Conference of Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud in February 1945   Ross Gregory     116
From Eisenhower to Reagan
Eisenhower, Khrushchev, and the U-2 Affair: A Forty-Six-Year Retrospective   William B. Pickett     137
Lyndon Johnson, Dean Rusk, and the China Question   Charles M. Dobbs     154
Scenes of Disaster: Johnson, Nixon, and the Dramatic Uses of Famine   Nick Cullather     174
Washington and Doha: The Beginnings, 1971-1974   Miriam Joyce     189
Cinema and National Defense: Another Look at Ronald Reagan and Hollywood   Stephen Vaughn     208
Background of Post-Cold War Crises
Revisionism: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Origins of the Iraq War   Terry H. Anderson     231
Crisis without End: The United States and Iran from Truman to Bush   James Goode     250
Clinton's Wilsonian Military Interventions: A Critique   Thomas H. Buckley     264
Harry S. Truman, George W. Bush, and the Perils of Regime Change   Arnold A. Offner     281
Robert H. Ferrell, Teacher and Scholar
The Young Bob Ferrell: From Yale to Indiana   J. Garry Clifford     307
Robert H. Ferrell: An Appreciation   Lawrence Kaplan     316
Robert H. Ferrell's Ph.D. Students     327
About the Contributors     331
Index     335
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