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Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776 Paperback – May 15, 1998
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Beginning with the original intentions of the Founding Fathers and the various interpretations of those ideals over the years, he deconstructs the role of the U.S. in global affairs, questioning both the logic and motives of how the nation deals with friend and foe. One of McDougall's major contentions centers on efforts to affect other countries' policies and governments by projecting U.S. standards or choices on them. He is particularly concerned with what he views as an overextension of resources and wisdom, and the glaring hypocrisy such efforts reveal. He points to several examples of how time and energy was wasted trying to change those who were uninterested or unwilling. As McDougall points out lucidly and convincingly in Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter With the World Since 1776, one nation cannot cure the major ills of another, and the price of such an attempt is too great to risk. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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OLD TESTAMENT (Promised Land) Exceptionalism (focus on liberty at home, avoiding entangling alliances) Unilateralism (as opposed to isolationism) The American System (Monroe Doctrine) Expansionism (Manifest Destiny)
This was the prevailing approach to foreign policy--designed to protect America's liberty and independence from the outside world--until 1898 and the Spanish American War, at which point a New Testament gained ascendancy, likewise guided by four traditions:
NEW TESTAMENT (Crusader State) Progressive Imperialism Liberal Internationalism (Wilsonianism) Containment Global Meliorism (reforming other nations internal problems)
The adoption of the New Testament policy marked the triumph of the "do-gooder impulse" and represented America's desire to influence the rest of the world and try to make it a "better" place. Given this context, we can see that Buchanan and Clinton are representatives of two great historic trends in American thought; what remains is for us to decide between the two.
After presenting the historic development of each of the eight traditions, McDougall concludes with a chapter on whether each would serve us well now.Read more ›
This ambivalence was well captured by Senator Fulbright who wrote that, "The inconstancy of American foreign policy is not an accident but an expression of two distinct sides of the American character. Both are characterized by a kind of moralism, but one is the morality of decent instincts tempered by the knowledge of human imperfection and the other is the morality of absolute self-assurance fired by the crusader spirit." Walter McDougall, of the University of Pennsylvania, tries to cast light into these American contradictions by looking into the Old ("Promised Land") and New Testament ("Crusader State") of its foreign policy.
Mr. McDougall's purpose is to dispel certain myths surrounding American foreign policy and unify seemingly inconsistent traditions. The former goal is achieved through a meticulous reading of primary and secondary sources; for example, Mr. McDougall renames the hallowed principles of the Old Testament: Liberty for Exceptionalism, Unilateralism for Isolationism, Expansionism for Manifest Destiny, and the American System for the Monroe Doctrine. The New Testament is similarly described in four traditions: Progressive Imperialism, Wilsonianism, Containment, and Global Meliorism.Read more ›
This is not a book of American History per se. It is a book about American's developing and changing doctrines of how to deal with the world beyond our borders. McDougall discusses eight doctrines with four under the "Old Testament" heading (when America was basically turned inward and worried only about the Western Hemisphere), and four under the "New Testament" (when America became a player on the world stage and, briefly, a colonial power).
Understanding these doctrines is essential to understanding America's changing place in the world. These doctrines conflict with each other and yet the all still echo through history to our present. This leads to some of the complexity in our present political relationships with the world and our own muddled sense of ourselves and our role in the world. Certainly, America has done some wonderful things for the world, but the wake of our great ship of state has also made navigation tough for some of the smaller barks trying to stay afloat in the storms of history.
This is a fine book and a great read. I encourage everyone, especially students and young people, to read it carefully and to consider seriously the arguments Prof. McDougall has put forth. You will be better off whether or not you end up agreeing with him.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An interpretation of U.S. history so excellent that I bought this book for my brother (I'm hanging on to my copy.).Published 10 months ago by Theodore Kobernick
I am greatly pleased with finding and receiving this book. I was not aware of this book but thanks to this seller, I have a great respect for Walter McDougall and his knowledge of... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Phillip Lund
excellent, interesting and challenging book...causes the reader to think about all the things --myths among them -- taught in high school history classes.Published on June 27, 2013 by jbsdad
I had to read this book for an undergraduate history course. It is an excellent presentation of the events, ideas, and personalities that have shaped American foreign policy since... Read morePublished on September 28, 2012 by A. Tester
Promised Land, Crusader State is an excellent work that seeks to define the dominant US foreign policy traditions. Read morePublished on January 17, 2012 by N. Crain
Temp review for the quick read I did as I just sold the book:
Well written for the most part, easy to follow. Read more
People wondering what got into the United States to go to war against Iraq in 2003 find it informative that in 1997 an analyst of U.S. Read morePublished on August 2, 2009 by Joseph Ryan
Walter McDougall's 1998 diplomatic history, "Promised Land, Crusader State", is a highly accessible examination of "the American encounter with the world since 1776. Read morePublished on May 20, 2009 by HMS Warspite
This book is a bit dated, 9-11 was still four years away when it was published, but it does provide an insightful analysis of American foreign policy that holds true even since... Read morePublished on May 3, 2008 by J. Lindner