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From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign…

From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 (Oxford… (original 2008; edition 2008)

by George C. Herring

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320534,663 (4.52)8
Title:From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 (Oxford History of the United States)
Authors:George C. Herring
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (2008), Edition: 1St Edition, Hardcover, 1056 pages
Collections:Your library, tbr 2013
Tags:history, American

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From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 by George C. Herring (2008)



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Showing 5 of 5
Very thorough, detailed history of U.S. foreign policy and relations. Author has combined interesting insights with staggering depth for one volume study. A tad much for me, but I'll keep this one in mind for further research. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
As the 12th volume to the Oxford History of the US, one would expect high quality work which this one is a very good read for the most part. His assessment from the Carter years to the George W Bush years, however, are less credible due to his rather injudicious use of the New York Times as a credible source, especially for the Clinton & G.W. Bush years which one wonders whether he stopped being historian & turned partisan pundit once he got to the Clinton years. ( )
  wcsdm3 | Jan 27, 2013 |
This is a stunningly good book, covering American foreign policy from 1776 to 2008. I found myself agreeing with nearly all the judgments which the author makes, especially his view on George W. Bush and his disastrous foreign policies. And one cannot but be pleased to read about the years 1988 to 1991, when Gorbachev made things happen in the world for which we can all be grateful. ( )
  Schmerguls | Mar 10, 2009 |
A Fantastic Survey

Part of the Oxford History of the United States Series, this survey text of American foreign policy since the revolution is both comprehensive and in depth. This would be the perfect book for an undergraduate course on the history of American foreign policy.

George C. Herring's writing is fluid yet incredibly descriptive. At 1000+ pages, the book is a mammoth to get through, but for a college history class, is definitely manageable over a semester. I was really surprised at not only how accurate and nuanced the entire book was, but Herring was even able to include certain elements that I was even surprised with. Herring also includes some very detailed maps of all the major conflict zones, definitely helps in the spatial contextualization.

Overall, I can think of no finer text than "From Colony to Superpower" in educating oneself about the foreign policy of the most important country in the world today. Definitely recommend it for either a survey course, or even just as a reference book. ( )
  bruchu | Feb 7, 2009 |
Over the last couple of decades, Oxford University Press has been putting together a history of the United States from a variety of authors, slicing up the history of the Republic in numerous, detailed volumes.

An exception to that pattern, George Herrings FROM COLONY TO SUPERPOWER takes on the entire history of the United States. However, it takes on just one piece of that history, albeit a large one: foreign policy. Herring's volume looks at the U.S.'s relations with other powers from the Revolution straight through to the George W. Bush administration.

His thesis is that America has great ideals in the abstract which it has not always successfully brought in practice to its application of its foreign policy.

Herring brings a comprehensive, considered and balanced approach to the material. While he does have opinions, and certain subjects are clearly more favored than others, Herring takes pains to minimize his point of view.

When Herring does present a strong point of view, however, he infallibly provides in a footnote a source or volume that provides a different point of view. For example, Herring takes issue with the machinations that brought Panama independence from Colombia and gave the US the freedom to create the Panama Canal. And yet, even as he does this, he provides a competing source that exonerates Roosevelt.

Even those Presidents whom Herring seems to disagree politically with are critically evaluated for their contributions, positive and negative, to the narrative of US Foreign Policy. And those Presidents and figures that Herring admires are called out when they failed to live up to their ideals.

This careful balancing of viewpoints and pains to remain non partisan means that, given the breadth of the subject, the book is long. And if the reader is inclined to read more on one particular piece of American Foreign Policy history, there is a bibliographic essay (as opposed to a straight,dry, bibliography) where Herring discusses numerous other volumes for further reading.

The book took me several weeks to savor and digest, however these weeks were worth it. I learned an enormous amount about US Foreign Policy, as if I had taken a college course on the subject. If you have the time and inclination to learn about US Foreign Policy, Herring has created the definitive volume on the subject. ( )
  Jvstin | Aug 23, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0195078225, Hardcover)

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 the 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. Herring does all this in a story rich in human drama and filled with epic events. Statesmen such as Benjamin Franklin, Woodrow Wilson, 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 abroad. 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.

Read an Amazon Exclusive interview with author George C. Herring and David M. Kennedy, editor of the Oxford History of the United States series.

Questions for George C. Herring

Kennedy: Your book covers the entire span of the history of the United States. What was the biggest challenge of writing a book of this scope for the Oxford History of the United States series?

Herring: Managing such a large subject and such a vast quantity of source material was daunting, indeed, at times, downright intimidating. Somewhat to my surprise, I also found it more difficult to write those chapters dealing with subjects I knew the most about, the Vietnam War era, for example. The great joys of doing the book, on the other hand, were to have the opportunity to pull together in some meaningful fashion what I had been teaching and writing about for forty years and especially to find myself learning new things each day.

Kennedy: Do you accept the conventional notion that the United States was isolationist for much of its history?

Herring: The idea of an isolationist America, still included in some textbooks, is one of the great myths of United States history. For good reasons, the nation for its first century and a half did pursue a unilateralist foreign policy, avoiding alliances that would restrict its freedom of action or entangle it in wars. But it was never strictly isolationist. Especially in the realm of economics, Americans sought full engagement with the world. The one time when the United States can accurately be said to have been isolationist is the era of the Great Depression, the 1930s.

Kennedy: What period did you find yourself most surprised by as you wrote this book?

Herring: I’m not sure that surprise is the right word, but I especially enjoyed doing the chapter covering the period 1837-1861. I got to know wonderful characters such as naval officers Charles Wilkes and Matthew Perry, merchant/diplomats Caleb Cushing and Edmund Roberts, filibusterer William Walker, and statesmen Henry Clay, James K. Polk, and Daniel Webster. More than I had appreciated, Americans were engaged in a great variety of activities and running up against different people all over the world. Through the Oregon treaty and the war with Mexico, the United States added a vast expanse of territory. There was so much energy, so much happening.

Kennedy: In what ways has religion shaped American foreign policy?

Herring: From the founding to the present, religion has played a subtle but often very important role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. Americans have seen themselves as a chosen people, “God’s American Israel,” the Puritans called it, uniquely virtuous and benevolent. In the nineteenth century, they believed it their Manifest Destiny to spread across the North American continent and later to uplift lesser peoples in overseas territories. The influence of religion has especially been felt through individuals such as Woodrow Wilson, a minister’s son, whose sense of America’s destiny and his own had powerful religious undertones, and the born-again Christians Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.

Kennedy: How did the current interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan shape your writing of these events as history? Was it a challenge to write about them in a non-partisan way?

Herring: It was of course difficult to treat these events as history since at the time I was writing the outcome in each case was very much in doubt. I had strongly opposed the war against Iraq, and I would be less than honest if I said that my opposition to that war did not influence my writing about it. I do believe that I was able to put the two wars in the larger framework of post Cold War and 9/11 U.S. foreign policies. These wars also caused me to look more closely at earlier interventions–of which, going back to 1775, there have been many–and to conclude that while Americans generally have viewed themselves as liberators the principal result in most cases has been to spur nationalism on the part of the people invaded.

Kennedy: With all of the foreign policy issues facing the U.S. right now, what will readers take away from reading about the deep history of America’s relationship with the world?

Herring: I hope, first, that readers will enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing about the exciting events and colorful personalities described in these pages. I also hope that they will take away from the book a fuller and more balanced appreciation of America’s dealings with other nations. The United States has been a “force for good in the world,” as the mantra of this year’s election campaign goes, but that is only part of the story, and I hope by gaining a fuller and more complex view they will better understand who we are as a nation and how others see us. I would also hope that readers might gain a better comprehension of the complexity of diplomacy and the reasons why it works or fails to work. Finally, by seeing where we as a nation have been, I hope that readers might have a better sense of where we are and where we need to go.

American Foreign Policy in Images

Take a look at paintings, an engraving and an photograph that depict pivotal moments in war and diplomacy.
Click any detail below for the full image and explanatory text by George C. Herring.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:47 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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 a.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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