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America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy Hardcover – September 30, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hailing President George W. Bush as the architect of a radical new foreign policy, the authors are clearly impressed with America's recent display of muscle. They do not, however, acknowledge critics who claim the Bush revolution may merely be a recycling of failed doctrines of colonialism and interventionism. Still, though most contemporary analysts credit the president's advisors with designing current foreign-policy practices, Daalder and Lindsay insist that Bush himself is in charge. If we have become a lone-wolf nation, it is because of his belief that an unfettered and aggressive America is both secure and capable of altering the international status quo for the better. After outlining the nuances of this new nationalist strategy, its challenges, rewards, and risks are analyzed in detail, providing foreign-policy wonks with plenty of material for debate. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"As Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay say in their new book, America Unbound, the move to a doctrine of pre-emption or preventive war is a true revolution in American foreign policy, despite its roots in the foreign policies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson" —Gerald Beller, West Virginia State College, The Charleston Gazette, 2/10/2004

"... a reasoned, well-documented analysis of the origins and evolution of the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration.... This book seems written for a mass audience.... Recommended." —C.W. Herrick, Muhlenberg College, Choice, 6/1/2004

"Mr. Bush is widely seen, abroad if not at home, as a bonehead with more brawn than brain who has little control over his administration, especially of the neoconservatives who seem to exert such influence within it. This view is rubbish, argue Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, both scholars at American think-tanks. Mr. Bush is his own man; he sees himself as the chief executive officer of a huge enterprise and acts accordingly; he has a world view and a clear idea of how america should fit into it; and he is no fool." — The Economist, 12/20/2003

"So what, one might ask. Has the US not put Saddam Hussein in prison and forced Colonel Muammer Gadaffi to abandon his programme for making weapons of mass destruction? Indeed, it has. Force works. But it will not, on its own, achieve the democratic transformation the US now seeks. As Ivo Daalder and James M. Lindsay argue in an important study of the administration's foreign policy: 'The Iraq experience underscored that how America led mattered as much as whether it led.'" —Martin Wolf, Financial Times, 12/24/2003

"AMERICA UNBOUND is the most ambitious and important study in this batch, not least because the authors painstakingly develop the provocative thesis that the president is not the Dubya of cartoonists, a dim puppet of a cabal of old-guard hawks and neocons, but the master puppeteer himself....The research is admirable, the arguments are well marshaled, and the absence of stridency adds considerable authority to the portrayal of Bush as a president whose 'worldview simply made no allowance for others' doubting the purity of American motives.'" —Serge Schmemann, International Herald Tribune, The New York Times Book Review, 1/25/2004

"Reprint of The Washington Times/UPI article." —Martin Sieff, United Press International, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/28/2003

"Reprint of The Washington Times article." —Martin Sieff, United Press International, United Press International, 12/26/2003

"[A] lucid and concise account of what the authors call 'the Bush revolution' in foreign affairs....It is doubtful that another book will come along soon that covers all the important points of the administrations's foreign policy with more clarity and evenhandedness." —Joshua Micah Marshall, Foreign Affairs, 11/1/2003

"Daalder and Lindsay argue that despite the lack of knowledge about foreign policy Bush revealed during the 2000 campaign, his views are well formed and held with deep conviction....[They] conclude that the Bush revolution is only a partial one, and is best understood as changing the way the United States conducts foreign policy, not the goals of foreign policy." —Alan Wolfe, Boston College, Commonweal, 12/5/2003

"As Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay argue cogently in their new book America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in American Foreign Policy, the Iraq policy and the whole unilateralist and pre-empt strategy doctrine that underlay it were not forced on a weak, inexperienced and vacillating president by dominant figures pulling his strings. These policies were eagerly adopted by a gung-ho, supremely confident president who was convinced he had the broad picture right and who sees the world in uncompromising Manichean terms of black and white, right and wrong." —Martin Sieff, United Press International, Washington Times, 12/26/2003

"Daalder's and Lindsay's great art is to independently describe rather than to blindly defend." —Robert Lincoln, Richmond Times Dispatch, 1/18/2004

"Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay, former U.S. National Security Council advisers, won the $15,000 prize for America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy (Brookings Institution Press)." — The Canadian Press, 3/2/2004

"Clinton advisors win prize for book on Bush policy." — The Toronto Star, 3/3/2004

"I would not have imagined that two former Clinton staffers could write such a detached and richly textured book about Bush foreign policy. AMERICA UNBOUND is refreshingly original and it makes the case for President Bush as the master of his own unilateralist revolution. Future examinations of Bush foreign policy will be measured against this authoritative book. " —Daniel Schorr, senior news analyst, National Public Radio

"Daalder and Lindsay have done an excellent job of chronicling history in the making, and of doing so soberly, with insight rather than vitrol." —Laura Secor, The American Prospect, 4/1/2004

"A stirring and thought-provoking exhortation of President George W. Bush as a bringer of global change, America Unbound is strongly recommended reading for political conservatives, political commentators, and students of contemporary American politics as reflected by the Bush Administration as it engages in a global war against international terrorism." — The Bookwatch, 3/1/2004

"A useful analysis...Their emphasis is less on the shift to preventive war than on the administration's doctrinaire analysis and its moralistic arrogance." —Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., New York Review of Books, 10/23/2003

"Reprint of NYT review" —James Chace, New York Times, San Antonio Express-News, 1/4/2004

"Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay are co-authors of America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foriegn Policy, which won the 2003 Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book on international relations." —Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, The Globe and Mail, 3/26/2004

"...an illuminating book on the Bush revolution and the doctrine of unilateral intervention and pre-emptive war." —James Chace, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, 12/20/2003

"...a splendidly illuminating book on the 'Bush Revolution' and the doctrine of unilateral intervention and pre-emptive war. Buttressed by extensive research, the authors demonstrate convincingly that Mr. Bush is not the puppet of the vice president or the Defense Department hawks. He has fundamental beliefs that have reversed America's six-decade commitment to internationalism." — The New York Times

"Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay, two alumni of the Clinton Administration's National Security Council, have given us a very useful -- and strikingly even-handed -- synopsis of President Bush's foreign policies.... America Unbound is a good book, well worth reading." —Geoffrey Riklin, Intellectualconservative.com, 3/1/2004

"AMERICA UNBOUND is a thorough and learned account of how Bush has handled international relations....It is written in a brisk, engaging style that one does not automatically associate with Washington think tanks." —Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune, Reason, 2/1/2004

"Listed among the top-selling American foreign policy and international affairs books with the #13 position." — Foreign Affairs, 3/31/2004

"Exhaustively documented... this book by two Clinton administration National security Council staffers, is a readable, balanced, and concise work that explains the present administration's theory behind the practice. These two authors, who know as much about how foreign policy is translated into action as anyone, have accomplished an empirical analysis of the actions and statements of President Bush and his advisers, discovering and articulating the worldviews behind their decicions.... America Unbound is, ultimately, a criticism of President Bush's policies, his foreign policy unilateralism in particular.... The authors base their case... on the position that the complex foreign policy goals now confronting America cannot be solved with a 'go it alone' policy." —David Marquet, U.S. Navy, Naval War College Review, 4/1/2004

"Of all the books that expound the New Look in U.S. foreign policy, America Unbound has been rightly acclaimed as the best. The research is thorough; analysis is incisive, and the approach fair to the point of being generous to Bush. That makes their criticism of Bush all the more telling. Their careful record of the policy debate alone serves to make the book a reliable work of reference." —A.G. Noorani, Frontline, 12/3/2004

"Amidst a flood of literature on the Bush foreign policy, America Unbound stands out as the most articulate and compelling. Students of the Bush presidency and US foreign policy will be consulting this instant classic for decades to come." —Andrew Preston, University of Victoria, International Journal

"...a useful overview and authoritative example of current political issues surrounding the Bush presidency in particular and trends in the U.S. foreign policy more generally....America Unbound offers a solid basis for understanding the consequences of the unleashing of America by the Bush presidency." —Laura A. Stengrim, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, 12/2/2005

"Daalder and Lindsay offer a provocative and original thesis —and also a caution to those who have underestimated George W. Bush's decisive and historic impact on the course of American foreign policy." —Robert Kagan, author OF PARADISE AND POWER: AMERICA AND EUROPE IN THE NEW WORLD ORDER

"That infamous day, September 11, revolutionized many things, not least American foreign policy. Widely recognized foreign policy experts Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay have provided the first critical but fair account of the historic shift in U.S. foreign policy brought on by the age of terrorism. Most importantly, this book carefully documents our shift away from post-Cold War norms of internationalism toward a new doctrine: 'you are either with us or against us.'" —Gary Hart, U.S. Senator (Ret.)


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press; First Printing edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815716885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815716884
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,218,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on March 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a thoughtful and comprehensive look at the origins and consequences of the "Bush doctrine" in foreign policy. It's also a serious critique, made more so by the fact that it is not couched (unlike, say, Michael Mann's "Incoherent Empire") in the language of partisan name-calling and electoral bitterness.
In fact, Daalder and Lindsay's argument kind of sneaks up on you, in that the first section of the book almost ... almost ... seems pro-Bush. Unlike many of his critics, these authors are willing to give the guy a little credit for having a brain in his head and a firm, relatively well-defined, set of beliefs. They argue that the discreet facts Bush knows (citing the famous pre-election "pop quiz" of world leaders) are less important than the principles he believes, since the latter are the raison d'étre of his policy. As they note in an important chapter titled "Bush's Worldview," while GWB may not be able to articulate the underlying logic of his hegemonist worldview in "a form that would please political science Ph.D.s" [p. 41], those principles are deeply held and guide his thinking on strategic matters.
This might seem to be damning with faint praise. But it's still more of an admission than we'll get from most subscribers to the kneejerk-but-tired caricature of Bush as a puppet whose strings are pulled by the neocons (or the oil companies, or Dick Cheney, or his dad, or whoever). What it also does, however, is set up the authors' principal argument, that "the Bush revolution" can in fact be traced back to the president himself: his ideas, his declarations, and his decisions.
The conclusion seems to be not so much that this revolution is evil (the arguments here are utilitarian rather than moral, which isn't necessarily a bad thing) as it is poorly thought-out.
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Format: Hardcover
The Brookings Institute earns its reputation as a unique think tank that blends excellent scholarship, a dispassionate tone, and accessibility for the general reader. "America Unbound" is emblematc of the Brookings creed. Although many books have critiqued America's radical new approach to foreign policy, "America Unbound" is the only title that retains a neutral, even clinical tone.
There are no ambitious arguments forwarded in this book. Instead, the reader is presented with a very thorough account of the Bush administration's foreign policy record, and the policy circles that have shaped it. The authors do, however, tackle two popular tropes; that Bush is a rube to his advisers, and that "neo-cons" have played Rasputin to that rube. The authors offer a account that portrays a Bush who is master of his own destiny, who has formulated a consistent vision, and who has synthasized a foreign policy based on the advice of a number of polcy cliques - democratic imperialists, assertive nationalists, and defensive realists.
My only criticism of the book is the inadequate treatment of the underlying premise of Bush's vision, which the authors describe as "hegemonist." In defining the "hegemonist" philosophy, they entirely neglect the essential examination of "minimal" versus "maximal" realism models, which are really the heart of the debate over the wisdom of Bush's foreign policy approach. Minimal realism is the wellspring for many critics and alternative thinkers (Joseph Nye, for example), and yet maximal realism has been an ascendent paradigm among many. The subject is simple, essential, and relevant. The authors would have been wise to address it.
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Format: Paperback
The present book is a compelling read and covers many but not all of the major issues on terrorism and Iraq.

I feel like I have been on an overdose of these books just having read House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger - the biggest tell all blockbuster (my opinion), The Choice by Zbigniew Brzezinski (an excellent analysis), Disarming Iraq by Hans Blix, Noam Chomsky's Hegemony of Survival (truly a book that makes one think), Thirty Days (about Tony Blair) by Peter Stothard, and Price of Loyalty by Paul O'Neill (excellent book), Why America Slept by Gerald Posner, the very popular best seller Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke, and the Rise of the Vulcans by Mann and Mann. I put together a "listmania" list of the 25 best books - the best books - mainly non political taken together, no strong bias conservative or liberal - a spectrum of opinion when you take them all together.

Many of the books are "gotcha" books that link Bush with some wrong doings or alternately books like Brzezinski that lay out solutions. This book is a bit different. It is more of a chronological history, and the book has been highly acclaimed by the Economist, NY Times etc. After reading I can see why.

I started to read the present book and was unable to put it down until I had read it virtually cover to cover. It is a surprisingly good book and neutral in tone and a compelling read - for myself it was a page turner. It brings together the story of Iraq and WMD's in chronological order (all briefly). It starts with the Bush campaign and what he says in his run for the presidency regarding foreign policy, his philosophy, the team that he put together, plus the authors put in some historical perspective starting with Washington, then Wilson, Truman, etc.
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