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A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History [Paperback]

by Thomas Bender
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 12, 2006 0809072351 978-0809072354 First Edition
"An original, ambitious, and consistently provocative book that should change the way we study and teach American history." --Eric Foner, Columbia University
In this major book, Thomas Bender recasts the developments central to American history by setting them in a global context, and showing both the importance and ordinariness of America's international entanglements over five centuries.

Bender focuses on five major themes, beginning with 1492 and "the age of discovery," when people everywhere first felt the transforming effects of oceanic trade. He asks us to see our Revolution as one of several similar rebellions around the globe, and the Civil War as part of a larger history associating the new meaning of nationhood with freedom. He also examines the American commitment to empire from Jefferson's presidency to our own time, and makes it clear that America's responses to capitalist industrialization and urbanization were part of a worldwide conversation.

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A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History + American History Now (Critical Perspectives On The P) + History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around the World Portray U.S. History
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since 1500, argues NYU's Bender (The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea), people everywhere have participated in a single global history. Yet American historians have often myopically suggested that America exists in a vacuum, isolated from the rest of the world. In this exciting and lucid study, Bender reframes American history, arguing persuasively that America's past must be seen as part of an international story. From the colonization of the New World in the 16th century to the social reforms of the early 20th century, America's triumphs and travails have shaped and been shaped by decisions, people and trends in Europe, Africa and Asia. It is hardly innovative, of course, to interpret the American Revolution as an international event. More arresting is Bender's reading of the Civil War as not simply an internal fight between North and South: it can only be understood when seen as part of "a larger history of... conflicts over nationalism and freedom and the proper balance of central and local authority." This timely book will doubtless turn Bender into a pundit du jour; more importantly, he will help Americans make sense of their place in the wider world, past and present. (Apr. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

History professor Bender argues for a more global view of our nation's history--its place among the nations of the world. The notion of U.S. history as self-contained and taught separately from world history is outdated and based on nineteenth-century ideas of nationalist ideology that "became embedded in the development of history as a discipline." Focusing on history from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, Bender emphasizes five major themes in U.S and world history: the "discovery" of the New World and the beginning of global history, the American Revolution in the context of competition among empires, the Civil War in the context of European revolutions of 1848, the U.S. as an empire among empires in the late 1800s, and American social liberalism as part of the global response to industrialization. In the final chapter, Bender examines how U.S. history has been, and continues to be, bound up with world history and how a broader perspective can aid international relationships. This is an engaging new perspective on history and the enduring tensions between American parochialism and cosmopolitanism. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; First Edition edition (December 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809072351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809072354
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #655,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Since 1500 the world has participated in a single global history - yet American historians tend to treat this country as though its history were isolated from that of the world. Here's a new interpretation of American history, setting it within context of international influences. From colonization patterns and objectives to decision-making processes which reached around the world - in both directions - A NATION AMONG NATIONS: AMERICA'S PLACE IN WORLD HISTORY is a remarkable series of connections between American events and world influence, drawn by a history professor with a dozen books to his name.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars New Perspective - Tough Read September 6, 2006
I picked up this book because its thesis - that American History should be viewed in a world context and not in the type of isolation that is the common way of teaching American History (for example - World War II started on December 7th, 1941) - was not just different, but also a more sensible way to view our history. The thesis is no doubt valid. Although I have read something in excess of 500 history books in the last 25 years this one ranks with some of the tougher ones to read. It never grabs and holds my interest. After 10 pages I am struggling to stay interested. I think the idea is great, but I just can't deal with the prose on the page.

Having said that, I will say that chapter 5, which deals with social legislation at the end of the 19th and dawn of the 20th century, is very good. It is interesting to see how far behind the US was compared to the rest of the world in many areas of social legislation, such as working conditions, food safety, and unionship rights. In some instances, it was not until the new deal that the US "caught up" with the rest of the world in some areas. And in one area, medical care, we still lag far behind many nations.

Overall a good book, but a tough one to read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different Point of View August 27, 2009
This book really makes you think differently! It examines how American history fits into the history of the world, something we often we look at backwards. Instead we consider that American history shapes that of the entire globe. Anyone interested in political history should read this book.

While the thesis is certainly valid I would say Bender overlooks just how much the U.S. has transformed history (for good and bad) in every corner of the map. Good Read.
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