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American Umpire Hardcover – January 28, 2013
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American Umpire is the most persuasive and sensible one-volume interpretation of the whole history of American foreign policy to appear in at least a generation. (Philip Zelikow, University of Virginia)
American Umpire is startlingly original, a fascinating interpretation of the history of the United States in the world. (Erez Manela, co-editor of The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective)
Are we really exceptional? Have we really improved the world through our foreign activities? Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman offers a resounding yes to both questions. With insight and wit, she explains how Americans have helped to build more open, accountable, and peaceful societies across the globe. (Jeremi Suri, author of Liberty's Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama)
Few ideas about world politics seem more popular than the notion that the United States, still the world's great superpower, has formed its own form of empire. This is the notion that Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman challenges in this fast-paced, always provocative, and certainly controversial interpretation of America's global role. (Jack N. Rakove, author of Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America)
A useful, cogent examination of why, despite some folly and ill judgment, America continues to be the one country the world looks to when in crisis or need of support. (Kirkus Reviews 2013-01-01)
In this bold revision of the history of American foreign policy, Stanford historian Cobbs Hoffman upends the notion that the U.S. was ever an empire, arguing instead that democratic capitalism, in which the people are sovereign and individuals own and generate wealth, essentially sells (and is selling) itself. (Publishers Weekly 2013-01-14)
[A] wholly engaging analysis of U.S. history...One of the book's underlying themes is a convincing critique of the depiction of the U.S. as an empire. In doing this, Cobbs Hoffman lends the long lens of history to contemporary debates on U.S. foreign policymaking...A key strength of this book is that it successfully embeds the founding and unfolding history of the U.S. into...broader global trends. In doing so, American Umpire engages in debates in the fields of global and international histories on the place of the U.S. in world affairs. (J. Simon Rofe Times Higher Education 2013-05-23)
From the Author
I have been teaching this subject for twenty years, and worrying about it as an American citizen for at least forty! Writing this book finally gave me the opportunity to deeply examine and resolve some basic historical conundrums, at least to my own satisfaction. For example: why, when Americans have such idealistic hopes for the world, does our foreign policy often seem so tarnished? Which is the illusion: our ideals, or the perception that we have failed? Also, why did a people so skeptical of "big government" accept the responsibility of providing security for almost the entire world? Is it possible that "umpiring" is in America's cultural and constitutional DNA? Would the Founders be surprised by what we see today?
I hope readers will join me in thinking about these big issues...and find that it can be done without contracting a migraine. Like any form of story-telling, history can be informative and enlightening, but it should also be fun.
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A refreshingly balanced, brave, and original thesis from an academic of deservedly high reputation. The author deserves her many honors and offers an important and informative text that should be of interest to all serious foreign policy students.
I will keep it and use it as a well-regarded reference in the future.
This is a well written and extensively researched book. It is timely and thought provoking given the United State's adventures abroad and I recommend it highly. My wife's book club picked it as a recent selection and we were excited to host the club and the author for a discussion of her career and work. Examples of the United States involvement in various areas of the world stage invite consideration of the authors premise and will broaden your understanding of world events and our country's history.