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Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation's Humanitarian Awakening [Kindle Edition]

Julia F. Irwin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In Making the World Safe, historian Julia Irwin offers an insightful account of the American Red Cross, from its founding in 1881 by Clara Barton to its rise as the government's official voluntary aid agency. Equally important, Irwin shows that the story of the Red Cross is simultaneously a story of how Americans first began to see foreign aid as a key element in their relations with the world.
As the American Century dawned, more and more Americans saw the need to engage in world affairs and to make the world a safer place--not by military action but through humanitarian aid. It was a time perfectly suited for the rise of the ARC. Irwin shows how the early and vigorous support of William H. Taft--who was honorary president of the ARC even as he served as President of the United States--gave the Red Cross invaluable connections with the federal government, eventually making it the official agency to administer aid both at home and abroad. Irwin describes how, during World War I, the ARC grew at an explosive rate and extended its relief work for European civilians into a humanitarian undertaking of massive proportions, an effort that was also a major propaganda coup. Irwin also shows how in the interwar years, the ARC's mission meshed well with presidential diplomatic styles, and how, with the coming of World War II, the ARC once again grew exponentially, becoming a powerful part of government efforts to bring aid to war-torn parts of the world.
The belief in the value of foreign aid remains a central pillar of U.S. foreign relations. Making the World Safe reveals how this belief took hold in America and the role of the American Red Cross in promoting it.

Editorial Reviews


"Julia F. Irwin shows that the Red Cross's rapid growth during World War I is a significant event that raises deep questions about the role charities should play in our country's diplomatic efforts... Irwin reminds us that the role Americans play overseas is complex and deeply rooted in our nation's history." --The Weekly Standard

"Focusing on the American Red Cross, Julia Irwin traces a tradition of international humanitarianism in the United States from the late nineteenth century through World War II. Her work provides a significant building-block in understanding how the ARC assisted the state in waging war and also built capacity for efforts of international civilian relief." --Emily S. Rosenberg, editor of A World Connecting, 1870-1945

"In Making the World Safe, Julia Irwin offers an impressive history of a new form of American humanitarianism by tracing the rise of the American Red Cross. She convincingly shows how, in close concert with government officials at home and abroad, the Red Cross both encouraged and channeled a new kind of global humanitarianism. Deeply researched and full of personal stories of Red Cross rank-and-file, Irwin offers an impressive social history of American internationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries." --David C. Engerman, Brandeis University

"Though focused on the American Red Cross and its international civilian relief efforts in the early twentieth century, this book is about far more than emergency housing, food provisioning, health care, and hygienic education. It is about the growing conviction that the United States people-and increasingly their government-should provide overseas humanitarian assistance for moral and political reasons. Covering a pivotal period in the history of U.S. aid, Irwin shows how an organization founded to assist the wounded became a progressive force for peace as well as an instrument of national policy. This is a book of both contemporary relevance and lasting significance." --Kristin Hoganson, author of Consumers' Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity

"Making the World Safe uses the untold history of the Red Cross to explore how the generation of Americans who lived through the Great War responded to the global devastation that surrounded them. Written with clarity and a humane sensibility, it is a model of the most exciting new scholarship about America and the world." --Christopher Capozzola, author of Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen

About the Author

Julia F. Irwin is Assistant Professor of History at the University of South Florida.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1092 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (March 28, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CH0S8KK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,823 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Humanitarianism April 24, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Julia Irwin has written a fabulous book about the story of the making of American humanitarianism - and she came to UW-Green Bay this week and delivered a wonderful talk that raised good questions about gender and race and how we relate to peoples beyond our borders. If you want to understand America in the World read Making the World Safe.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very nice July 8, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
we are the birthplace of Clara Barton, so this is appropriate for our collection it will be great to have here, thanks
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More About the Author

Julia F. Irwin is an Associate Professor of History at the University of South Florida, where she teaches courses on the history of the United States and its relations to the wider world. Her research, more specifically, focuses on the place of health, welfare, and humanitarianism in U.S. foreign relations. Her first book, *Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation's Humanitarian Awakening*, is a history of U.S. relief efforts for foreign civilians in the First World War era. Focused on the overseas aid activities of the American Red Cross, it examines the diplomatic and the cultural significance of U.S. humanitarian aid in the early twentieth century world. Irwin has also started work on a new project, *Catastrophic Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Responses to Global Natural Disaster*. In this book, she will analyze how the United States government, American charities and relief organizations, and the U.S. public have responded to overseas disasters caused by tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, and other so-called "Acts of God" since the late nineteenth century. In addition to narrating the history of these responses, the book will examine how the U.S. foreign disaster relief infrastructure has changed over time and the reasons why these changes occurred.


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