Writing in Life magazine in February 1941, Henry Luce memorably announced the arrival of “The American Century.” The phrase caught on, as did the belief that America’s moment was at hand. Yet as Andrew J. Bacevich makes clear, that century has now ended, the victim of strategic miscalculation, military misadventures, and economic decline. To take stock of the short American Century and place it in historical perspective, Bacevich has assembled a richly provocative range of perspectives.
What did this age of reputed American preeminence signify? What caused its premature demise? What legacy remains in its wake? Distinguished historians Jeffry Frieden, Akira Iriye, David Kennedy, Walter LaFeber, Jackson Lears, Eugene McCarraher, Emily Rosenberg, and Nikhil Pal Singh offer illuminating answers to these questions. Achievement and failure, wisdom and folly, calculation and confusion all make their appearance in essays that touch on topics as varied as internationalism and empire, race and religion, consumerism and globalization.
As the United States grapples with protracted wars, daunting economic uncertainty, and pressing questions about exactly what role it should play in a rapidly changing world, understanding where the nation has been and how it got where it is today is critical. What did the forging of the American Century—with its considerable achievements but also its ample disappointments and missed opportunities—ultimately yield? That is the question this important volume answers.
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Table of Contents
1 Life at the Dawn of the American Century Andrew J. Bacevich 1
2 The Origins and Uses of American Hyperpower David M. Kennedy 15
3 Consuming the American Century Emily S. Rosenberg 38
4 The Problem of Color and Democracy Nikhil Pal Singh 58
5 Pragmatic Realism versus the American Century T. J. Jackson Lears 82
6 Toward Transnationalism Akira Iriye 121
7 From the American Century to Globalization Jeffry A. Frieden 142
8 Illusions of an American Century Walter LaFeber 158
9 The Heavenly City of Business Eugene McCarraher 187
10 Not So Different After All Andrew J. Bacevich 231
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Historians continually keep clarifying history, and the essays in this book do a remarkable job of just that. Most interesting are the various perceptions/approaches the historians have taken to make make sense of the short lived "American Century." This is an important book.