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A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History Hardcover – April 4, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0809095278 ISBN-10: 0809095270 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; 1st edition (April 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809095270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809095278
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,243,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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 The notion of U.S. history as self-contained and taught separately from world history is outdated and based on nineteenth-century ideas of nationalist ideology that "became embedded in the development of history as a discipline."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

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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17 of 26 people found the following review helpful By William Hopke on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Stanford on August 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
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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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John O. Bronson on June 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I picked this work up at the local public library recently. I read the blurb and some of the mini-reviews and then I approached the book with fear and trepidation because I was not fond of the idea of some of my cherished notions of U.S. history being upset. I was all wet. I am now plowing through this very enlightening and easily read book and I am now forming new cherished notions of U.S. history.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MomsRGreat on October 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Bender's book is a type of deconstructive history which was popular in the 1980's. It's great at tearing apart, and short on providing answers. It is everywhere and nowhere. Much like a freshman history course, this book is bland to the point of nothingness. Bender's book is like watching a child bash apart his stack of blocks. Ultimately, an adult has to come in to clean up the mess. This is simply not great history writing.
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