From Publishers Weekly
Since 1500, argues NYU's Bender (The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea
), people everywhere have participated in a single global history. Yet American historians have often myopically suggested that America exists in a vacuum, isolated from the rest of the world. In this exciting and lucid study, Bender reframes American history, arguing persuasively that America's past must be seen as part of an international story. From the colonization of the New World in the 16th century to the social reforms of the early 20th century, America's triumphs and travails have shaped and been shaped by decisions, people and trends in Europe, Africa and Asia. It is hardly innovative, of course, to interpret the American Revolution as an international event. More arresting is Bender's reading of the Civil War as not simply an internal fight between North and South: it can only be understood when seen as part of "a larger history of... conflicts over nationalism and freedom and the proper balance of central and local authority." This timely book will doubtless turn Bender into a pundit du jour; more importantly, he will help Americans make sense of their place in the wider world, past and present. (Apr. 11)
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History professor Bender argues for a more global view of our nation's history--its place among the nations of the world. The notion of U.S. history as self-contained and taught separately from world history is outdated and based on nineteenth-century ideas of nationalist ideology that "became embedded in the development of history as a discipline." Focusing on history from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, Bender emphasizes five major themes in U.S and world history: the "discovery" of the New World and the beginning of global history, the American Revolution in the context of competition among empires, the Civil War in the context of European revolutions of 1848, the U.S. as an empire among empires in the late 1800s, and American social liberalism as part of the global response to industrialization. In the final chapter, Bender examines how U.S. history has been, and continues to be, bound up with world history and how a broader perspective can aid international relationships. This is an engaging new perspective on history and the enduring tensions between American parochialism and cosmopolitanism. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved