A Faustian Foreign Policy from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush: Dreams of Perfectibility

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ISBN-13: 978-0521714044
ISBN-10: 0521714044
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Editorial Reviews


"Joan Hoff is universally recognized as among our most distinguished and perceptive historians of the American presidency and US foreign policy. In A Faustian Foreign Policy from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush she has produced another perceptive, graceful and informative history that targets and explains the deadly combination that too often has led our nation astray: grand visions conceived in a myopic haze of American exceptionalism. It is a major achievement."
-Martin J. Sherwin, George Mason University; Co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, 2006 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography

"Joan Hoff has given us a superb critical analysis of post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy. But her book is most important in providing a powerful insight which has been missing from too much recent analysis: how that post-9/11 foreign policy catastrophe comes directly out of how Americans have been viewing and making their foreign policy over the past several centuries. The 17th-century American 'City on a Hill' exceptionalist belief (emphasized by Ronald Reagan), the religious Manifest Destiny of the 19th-century which climaxed in Civil War, and, above all, the haunting illusions of Woodrow Wilson's export-democracy-to-the world -- all, as Hoff masterfully and succinctly explains, are absolutely necessary for us to understand if we are also to understand -- and correct -- post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy disasters."
-Walter LaFeber, Tisch University Professor at Cornell University

"With customary insight and erudition, and passion to diagnose what ills the United States at this moment in time, Joan Hoff shows how blind faith in American exceptionalism has produced a century of foreign policy that perverted, and threatens to destroy, the nation's values. That does not have to happen. Like no book since William Appleman William's The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, Hoff's study powerfully demonstrates that a better future for America (and the world) lies in coming to terms with the corrupt bargains of the past. By so doing, citizens and leaders together can recover their nation's lost honor."
-William O. Walker III, University of Toronto

"In this brilliant book, Joan Hoff deftly explores how the myth of unparalleled virtue has cloaked an increasingly sordid reality of U.S. foreign policy. If more Americans shared her wisdom, they would live in a better nation and a better world."
-Lawrence S. Wittner, State University of New York, Albany; Editor of Peace Action

"Hoff bases this well-written narrative on solid research and a clear moral standpoint...The American public and its leaders--not only historians--should ponder this excellent, disturbing book."
The Historian, Richard T. Fry, Illinois College

Book Description

America's modus operandi of independent internationalism has driven the country's relationships with the rest of the world. Professor Joan Hoff's work critiques U.S. foreign policy from Woodrow Wilson through George W. Bush by showing how moralistic diplomacy has increasingly assumed Faustian overtones, especially during the Cold War and following September 11.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521714044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521714044
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Written by Joan Hoff (Research Professor of History, Montana State University, Bozeman) A Faustian Foreign Policy from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush: Dreams of Perfectibility is a sharp critique of how America's post-September 11th foreign policy has increasingly taken on Faustian overtones. Tracing the roots of the ideological aspects that drive current American diplomacy back to the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Hoff reveals how belief in "exceptionalism" has shaped America's past and present efforts to remake the world in its own image. The result has been a medley of unethical Faustian pacts that the U.S. has made since 1920 to pursue its yearning for global supremacy. "In March 2005 it was revealed that the Bush administration had approved a secret program right after September 11 allowing the CIA to transfer suspected terrorists ('ghost prisoners') for imprisonment and interrogation in 'black hole' prisons in such countries as Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Pakistan, all noted for torturing their prisoners. This illegal kidnapping process is officially called 'extraordinary rendition' and is known colloquially as 'torture outsourcing.' Individual cases do not have to be approved by the White House or the State or Justice Department, as previous administrations had required." A troubling yet highly recommended analysis.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By H. H. Farmer on March 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is exhausting to read because it has so much information in it. It chronicles the loss of constitutional powers by the Congress, and the gain of presidential powers through deception and outright theft. U.S. presidents have ever been on the take. Congressmen, despite their greed, have given away their power to govern and legislate. Presidents have become more and more like dictators. Read this book and weep for our country!
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