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Agent of Empire: William Walker and the Imperial Self in American Literature Hardcover – August 2, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


"Harrison covers an impressive range of genre and mode—journalistic report, essay, short story, novel, poem, play, movie--and works likewise across a spectrum of literary and cultural discourses. Agent of Empire is a learned, interesting, and important book."--Philip D. Beidler, University of Alabama

"Harrison reinterprets the United States’ relationship to the empire with great subtlety and nuance."--Robert Bennett, The Montana Professor

From the Publisher

An archetypal story of American global ambitions, told and retold through the life and legacy of a nearly forgotten adventurer

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (August 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820325449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820325446
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,469,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan M. Lampley on February 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brady Harrison's AGENT OF EMPIRE is an interesting and sorely needed approach to the underappreciated subject of William Walker, "the Gray-Eyed Man of Destiny," the Nashville-born doctor/lawyer/journalist who became president of Nicaragua in 1855. Harrison examines the role of Walker--and more commonly, the archetype of the American Imperialist-Adventurer, which Walker symoblizes--in popular culture. Harrison's thesis is that the Walker character is an important reflection of various ideas of the American "hero" and how the icon has developed into what might properly be called the American "antagonist." On the plus side, nobody has ever quite written something along these lines before; as a professor of English and History with a special emphasis in popular culture, film, and interdisciplinary studies--not to mention a Walker expert myself--I am very pleased to see a recent study of Walker and one that takes the unusual approach of contextualizing the filibuster as a cultural force. Harrison's writing style is strong, and his interpretations of texts convincing. He has even dug up some stories and books that I either didn't know about or knew the titles and nothing else; for that accomplishment alone, Harrison deserves a tip of the hat. On the downside, the subject itself is so specialized that few people outside a few scholars are destined to read AGENT OF EMPIRE. Perhaps this is not unusual for an academic tome, but it is significant that Harrison accurately observes the way the Walker icon endures cycles of discovery and obscurity, thereby not remaining a constant warning--or inspiration--to American tendencies towards interventionism, imperialism, and international hegemony. A bit more discussion of Walker's life would help make the book slightly more useful to general readers.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Baumstark on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In Agent of Empire Harrison introduces us to William Walker, an imperialist who's successes and failures eventually lead to his rise as the dictator of Nicaragua. From his ascendancy to his execution Harrison explores what has made Walker such an interesting case study in the complex history of American imperialism. Harrison does an excellent job of exploring the many stories directly and loosely based upon the exploits and personal character of William Walker. Through poetry, novels, movies, fiction and non-fiction Harrison weaves his way through all of it helping us to understand the times and prevailing philosophies that helped create a man like Walker. This book is well researched and the writing is inviting and thought provoking.
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