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God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World (Vintage) Paperback


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God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World (Vintage) + Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World + Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375713735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375713736
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A serious rethinking of how we study and write modern history—and of how the West pursues its relationship with the Rest.” —The Washington Post Book World “Clever, malevolent and with spare time on his hands, Osama bin Laden is supposed to read a lot. If the CIA wants to demoralize and to distract him, it might make sure he gets a copy of Walter Russell Mead's new book.” —The Economist “Elegantly written and erudite.” —The Baltimore Sun“A thrilling read.” —The Irish Times “Mead is a scintillating writer who greatly adds to the gaiety of the often monotonous debate on U.S. foreign policy.” —Financial Times

About the Author

Walter Russell Mead, the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of Mortal Splendor and Special Providence, which won the Lionel Gelber Award for best book on international affairs in English for the year 2002. He is a contributing editor to The Los Angeles Times; has written for The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker; and is a regular reviewer of books on the United States for Foreign Affairs. Mr. Mead also lectures regularly on American foreign policy. He lives in New York City.

More About the Author

Walter Russell Mead is the James Clark Chase Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest. From 1997 to 2010, Mr. Mead was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, serving as the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy from 2003 until his departure. Until 2011, he was also a Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellow in Grand Strategy at Yale, where he had taught in the Yale International Security Studies Program since 2008.

His book, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), was widely hailed by reviewers, historians, and diplomats as an important study that will change the way Americans and others think about American foreign policy. Among several honors and prizes, Special Providence received the Lionel Gelber Award for best book in English on international relations in 2002.

Mr. Mead's most recent book, God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), is a major study of 400 years of conflict between Anglophone powers and rivals ranging from absolute monarchies like Spain and France through Communist and Fascist enemies in the twentieth century to al-Qaeda today.

Mr. Mead is also the author of the "Via Meadia" blog at The-American-Interest.com, where he writes regular essays on international affairs, religion, politics, culture, education, economics, technology, literature, and the media. Mead's writings are frequently linked to and discussed by major news outlets and websites such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Harper's, the Washington Post, and RealClearPolitics, as well as by foreign periodicals. He also frequently appears on national and international radio and television programs. He serves as a regular reviewer of books for Foreign Affairs and frequently appears on national and international radio and television programs. In 1997, he was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in the category of essays and criticism.

He is an honors graduate of Groton and Yale, where he received prizes for history, debate, and the translation of New Testament Greek. Mr. Mead has traveled widely in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America, and often speaks at conferences in the United States and abroad. He is a founding board member of the New America Foundation. He is a native of South Carolina and lives in Jackson Heights, New York.

Customer Reviews

Niebuhr sought to balance effective global action with serious self-questioning.
Andrew Cort, author of THE DOOR IS OPEN
Most of all, I enjoyed the many literary references and analogies, particularly the Carrollian theme of the Walrus and the Carpenter that runs through the book.
John D. Cofield
I think every college student should read this book to understand how the world actually works."
K. J. Goldstein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
On first glance God and Gold might seem to be a typical triumphalist school of history production about the glorious rise of the Anglo-Americans and their victories over lesser peoples. However, the reader who takes a second look will recognize that Walter Russell Mead has created a wide-ranging and fascinating examination of world history over the last three hundred years or so that, while it does praise the strengths of the Anglophones or Wasps, is not blind to their short comings or to the achievements of other peoples.

I found this book fascinating on many levels. Its a superb work of history, making deft comparisons and drawing excellent and elaborate parallels. The analogies are clear and highly illuminating. Mead is thought provoking and astute in his assessments. I appreciated the attention paid to the role played by organized religions and the reassessment and validation of earlier historians' theses on Protestantism and Christianity. Most of all, I enjoyed the many literary references and analogies, particularly the Carrollian theme of the Walrus and the Carpenter that runs through the book.

Mead can be harsh in his criticisms, particularly of the foolish vainglory of the Bush Administration over the last few years, but overall the book is hopeful and optimistic in its assessment of the past and predictions for the future.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Ernest Pontifex on October 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mead is a master of making complex history of American thought accessible and lively. God & Gold is a fearless account that dares to examine how the English-speaking powers created the institutions we hold most dear--and how they have fought to defend them. It isn't politically correct; but it's brilliant. Mead's work is formidable, and has academic rigor; but this isn't some dense intellectual history. It is an accessible read, and one that makes the reader much, much smarter.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. B. S. Wise on October 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There are few works and fewer scholars who can skillfully bridge and interweave topics like history, economics, and foreign relations without any one of the three areas suffering. Mead is just such an author and this is just such a book.
Even more than his previous works, in this volume Mead manages to make linkages between these topics to present a remarkably fun, remarkably cohesive account of how Britain and later the United States, came to be the world's superpowers.

Beyond being a simply stellar set of ideas, it is simply one of the best written books of the year. It was the first time in a long time where I found myself simply unable to put a history book down until I finished it.
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70 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Tucker Goodrich on November 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with the other reviewers. This is an excellent history. I found particularly interesting the interplay of religion and politics that Mr. Mead describes.

Unfortunately, the book continues past that point, and Mr. Mead shares his views on how the current world could be made a better place. Mr. Mead's foreign policy recommendations cause the book to fall down, hard.

Who knew many of the world's ills could be cured merely by having Red-State Americans read Reinhold Neibuhr? Why haven't they already done so? After all, Mr. Neibuhr was a favorite of President Jimmy Carter, and we know how well his foreign policy efforts played out. This is one of the core recommendations Mr. Mead offers to resolve the world's ills.

If op-ed insights like this, and other thoughts first vetted around George Soros' dinner table (not a joke) are your cup of tea, then I highly recommend, in its entirety, this book to you.

Otherwise, the history portion is excellent and more than makes up for the latter part of the book, which, gratefully, is brief.

Mr. Mead should stick to his strengths: he's an excellent historian, and a fine writer.

I give it four stars. It would have been five, except for the end, which is dreadful. Then I take one away for the author's poor judgement in sullying a fine history with a sophmornic opinion editorial. Three stars.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Cort, author of THE DOOR IS OPEN on April 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
[Note; this Review appeared on the Claremont Institute website, on July 17, 2008]

In his new book, God and Gold, foreign affairs expert Walter Russell Mead argues that modern world history can be understood as the global application of a system of economics, religion, and culture developed and directed by the English-speaking peoples. From the time of Oliver Cromwell to the present, the British and the Americans, either individually or together, have won every major war, and have established a commercial and military dominance that remains the foundation of the modern world. "It is perhaps bad manners to say so," Mead acknowledges, "but that does not make it less true."

Mead addresses six questions which he believes can help us better understand and handle the problems and dangers that confront America today:

(1) What exactly is the agenda of the Anglo-Americans?
(2) Why have they been so consistently successful in their military and economic conflicts with other nations?
(3) How did they manage to build a global order?
(4) Why have they so frequently believed that their successes were about to give rise to a world of peace and prosperity?
(5) Why have they been wrong every single time?
(6) What is the meaning, significance, and future, of Anglo-American power?

As Mead confronts these questions, we find that the strengths of his book include his authoritative mastery of historical, political, and economic facts, which he uses liberally to support his argument, and his ability to weave together cultural, religious, economic, and political strands of history into a fascinating, coherent synthesis.
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