Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Good | Details
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Your purchase also supports literacy charities.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Myth of American Diplomacy: National Identity and U.S. Foreign Policy Hardcover – March 3, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$15.51 $3.29

Navigate global markets with Barron's digital membership Learn more
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews


"Hixson offers a provocative and comprehensive interpretation of the history of U.S. foreign affairs. It is about time that a radically different perspective on the Myth of America was presented."—Akira Iriye, Harvard University

(Akira Iriye)

“Hixson wants the country to understand the extent to which its nationalism depends on war and violence for sustenance. His may be the first thoroughly ‘culturalist’ reading of the entire history of American foreign policy.”—Andrew M. Johnston,Carleton University, Ottawa
(Andrew M. Johnston)

“Reminiscent of William A. Williams's The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, but with all the tools of current scholarship, The Myth of American Diplomacy makes a sweeping case that Americans' sense of their national destiny, more than threats from others, account for their long record of war, conquest, and expansion. It's an important rebuttal to other scholars and a timely warning to other Americans.”—Michael Sherry, Northwestern University
(Michael Sherry)

“Emphasizing cultural construction and hegemony, Walter Hixson presents a spirited and provocative new interpretive history of U.S. diplomacy.”—Emily S. Rosenberg, author of Financial Missionaries to the World: The Politics and Culture of Dollar Diplomacy, 1900-1930
(Emily S. Rosenberg)

"The Myth of American Diplomacy is a much-needed, highly innovative, and deeply enthralling synthesis of the cultural turn in diplomatic history. It is destined to become a standard, indispensable work for historians of American foreign relations."—Andrew Preston, CambridgeUniversity
(Andrew Preston)

"Hixson's message may be one we are better off hearing now, before it is too late."—Timothy Renick, Christian Century
(Timothy Renick Christian Century 2008-05-06)

About the Author

Walter L. Hixson is professor of history at the University of Akron. He has published numerous books and articles on the history of U.S. foreign policy, including the prize-winning book George F. Kennan: Cold War Iconoclast. He lives in Fairlawn, OH.


The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300119127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300119121
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,584,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Klodt on April 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In The Myth of American Diplomacy Walter Hixson presents important historical material in a way that forces the reader to think outside of the box. Hixson's main argument is that "US foreign policy, bolstered by a usable past, encompasses a vast realm of representation and linguistic discourse that has served to create, affirm, and maintain cultural hegemony" (p. 9). In other words, it is our view of American history that has provided us with a means to constantly reaffirm our national identity. This national identity is especially important to Americans because as a nation we lack the long history of the European countries. Since we do not have a long term past to root our sense of identity in, we must constantly find ways to assure ourselves of our identity distinct from others.

Hixson argues that this usable past is the root of foreign policy. Americans constantly engage in rituals that reinforce the myth of our identity, such as singing "God Bless America" and celebrating national holidays such as Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. However, the most efficient and powerful way to reaffirm our national identity is through choosing war and violent action. This myth of American identity provides a space for the support of militant foreign policy. As can be seen throughout American history, external aggression helps promote internal unity. This external aggression need not be outside of the country as can be seen during times throughout our history the minorities within the country have provided a group to unify against. At times of extreme change or challenges to the idea of American identity militant foreign policy has provided a relief to the anxiety felt.
Read more ›
Comment 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well researched; extensive bibliography; a truly scholarly work. If you ever wanted to know why "they" hate us -- trust me, it is NOT because of our freedom -- this book; and "Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man" pretty much tell it all. Not preachy, or heavy philosophy; just a lot of facts that are conveniently left out of what passes for "news" and education in the USA.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
In "The Myth of American Diplomacy," Walter Hixson argues that since the 17th century, Americans have internalized the "Myth," which includes concepts of American exceptionalism, racial superiority, patriarchy, and so on. The consumption of this Myth leads to domestic tensions that periodically percolate up to a breaking point, which causes us to essentially go abroad and seek monsters to destroy in order to reinforce national unity. For Hixson, every conflict in American history happens in the same way, through a regular cycle of violence spurred on by the Myth. His analysis is centered entirely on cultural explanations of foreign policy, and he owes a great deal to Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault, and other post-modernists. The reader is left wondering if things like national security or politics had any influence whatsoever. Of course, Hixson would argue that I would argue that, as I have so internalized the myth that I can't break out from it. Maybe, but I don't think so. Whatever the case, the construction of his thesis precludes criticism, as all can be disregarded in such a way. As a synthesis of revisionist scholarship and cultural theory, the book is of some use. In parts, his work can be insightful, if also wholly unoriginal. The narrative that Hixson constructs is unfortunately unsatisfying. Indeed, that is probably an understatement. He regularly misrepresents the historical record in order to fit the work into his impossibly rigid narrative. He suggests that there was an American national identity much earlier than any such thing actually existed, and further suggests that such an identity has been unchanged over the past several hundred years.Read more ›
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Even though this book has many valid conclusions, the style of writing eclipses their validity. The book was evidently written to impress academic colleagues and is generally obtuse to the general public. Hixson specializes in obscure words and phrases that he uses over and over again. He also twists history by cherry picking quotes or parts of quotes that pick his thesis, virtually all of which come from secondary sources of writers that agree with his revisionist history. A look at the original sources of his quotes shows that he often distorts the views of historical players to fit his thesis. As an example, on page 61 he refers to "Franklin, the venerable first American, alluded to the 'design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for the cultivators of the earth.'" turning Franklin into an Indian hater. After watching Indians get drunk the on rum night before, Franklin actually proclaimed a witticism: "and indeed if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for the cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means. It has already annhilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the seacoast." On the same page he writes of George Washington as an inveterate Indian killer. Actually throughout his career Washington respected Indians and sought continually to give them a fair shake. Quoting from Joseph Ellis, His Excellency: George Washington, "He did not view Native Americans as exotic savages but as familiar and formidable adversaries fighting for their own independence pretty much as he would do in their place." This book is filled with such misquotes and misguided fiery writing - a poor piece of scholarship.
Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse