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The Arrogance of Power Paperback – January 23, 1967

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (January 23, 1967)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812992628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812992625
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book should be required reading for all Americans, written by a man who, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the VietNam War period, can write with some authority about international affairs. Fulbright's thesis is that Americans have two sides, one that is humanitarian and one that is puritanical.
While we may want to see others enjoy the virtues of democracy and freedom (our humanitarianism) we tend to approach them with an air of superiority and an inability to see that there are many cultures in the world and that of the U.S. is only one.
How accurate Fulbright is when he says that unilateral aid, either military or economic, can evoke anger and resentment by those who, Americans feel, should be grateful and eager to receive what we have to give.
Fulbright asks Americans to reflect on the fact that ours is a profoundly conservative society which abhors radical change. Others in the world are impatient with the lack of change and can go to extremes that would never be considered in the United States. Fulbright sees this in the discomfort Americans have with revolutions, being good only if they follow the path of our own. Any route that differs from American experience is suspect.
Fulbright rightly sees the strength of American society in the freedom to dissent and laments the fear and approbrium that dissent often receives. Humility is definitely in order instead of loud boasting and self-righteous denunciations (heard any of that lately???)
Tocqueville said of American democracy..."the smallest reproach irritates its sensibility and the slightest joke that has any foundation in truth renders it indignant; from the forms of its language up to the solid virtues of its character, everything must be made the subject of encomium.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At a time when there were no heart transplants and America had yet to put a man on the moon, one man wrote a book that speaks of our country today as much as it did when he wrote it in 1966.

It is a reflection on what we have become, and the choices we make for our future. There are two competing forces for the direction we take, what the author Senator J. William Fullbright calls two Americas: One is the America of Lincoln and Adlai Stevenson and the other is of Theodore Roosevelt and the Superpatriots. They are two distinct sides of the American character. The character of Lincoln is rooted in humanism and assumes that America's greatness is its recognition of its imperfections. The character of Roosevelt is rooted in American Exceptionalism, or what the senator refers to as an arrogance of power.

The dominant strand of the American fabric is the democratic humanist one. It is rooted in the principles of our Founding Fathers, humanism, tolerance and accommodation. The coexisting strand is that of Theodore Roosevelt's belief in America's superiority, or what Fullbright sees as intolerant Puritanism. It is the belief that America expresses its cultural superiority through its wealth and dominance, that superiority is measured in military might.

According to Senator Fullbright these forces of the American body politic have been at odds for years with the belief in America's superiority dominating foreign and domestic policy. This is the strand the senator contends must not prevail. This path follows previous empires that failed because rulers did not rule wisely or well.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was no fan of Fulbright's in the '60s but this book opened my eyes to the startling parallels between then and now, forty years later. It's a "must read" for anybody who wants to put today's global events in perspective. And that his widow, Harriet, was a childhood friend of mine, does not skew this review! I read the book with an initial bias against his views but was completely converted by the end.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book addresses the wise use of national power.Senator Fullbright cautions against over-extension that has led to the decline of past empires.

The author defines Arrogance of Power as "a psychological need that nations seem to have in order to prove that they are bigger, better, or stronger than other nations" and "the tendency of great nations to equate power with virtue and major responsibilities with a universal mission."

The Senator also was critical of wars justified by "vital national interest".

Senator Fulbright points out that domestic policy suffers when war becomes the focal point of American policy.

His warning about the side effects of pre-emptive war has proven accurate in current times.

One has to wonder how different things in America would have been had Senator Fulbright's ideas been pursued during the Viet Nam era.
This book is very much dated, but the Senator's views are timeless and he communicates those ideas very well. This is still an excellent book on foreign policy and it's definitely not a "dry read".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is time for everyone to reacquaint themselves with the late Senator Fulbright's gem. This book, sadly enough, accurately describes the events of the past decade, and our confused and contentious domestic and foreign policies. His warnings and prescriptions are still prescient and timely. This book must be read by any "strategic leader" or anyone who cares about politics, policy, and the current state of our government.
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