Into New Territory: American Historians And The Concept Of Us Imperialism

Paperback | August 20, 2014

byJames G. Morgan

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The idea that the United States—a nation founded after a war of independence—operates as an imperialist power on the world stage has gained considerable traction since the turn of the twenty-first century. But just a few decades earlier, this position was considered radical and even “un-American.” How did this dramatic change come about?
            Tracing the emergence of the concept of US imperialism, James G. Morgan shows how radical and revisionist scholars in the 1950s and 1960s first challenged the paradigm of denying an American empire. As the Vietnam War created a critical flashpoint, bringing the idea of American imperialism into the US mainstream, radical students of the New Left turned toward Marxist critiques, admiring revolutionaries like Che Guevara. Simultaneously, a small school of revisionist scholars, led by historian William Appleman Williams at the University of Wisconsin, put forward a progressive, nuanced critique of American empire grounded in psychology, economics, and broader historical context. It is this more sophisticated strand of thinking, Morgan argues, which demonstrated that empire can be an effective analytical framework for studying US foreign policy, thus convincing American scholars to engage with the subject seriously for the first time.

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The idea that the United States—a nation founded after a war of independence—operates as an imperialist power on the world stage has gained considerable traction since the turn of the twenty-first century. But just a few decades earlier, this position was considered radical and even “un-American.” How did this dramatic change come abou...

James G. Morgan is an independent scholar and writer who earned his doctorate in history at the University of Southampton. He lives just outside London, England.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:282 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:August 20, 2014Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299300447

ISBN - 13:9780299300449

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments                             
 
Introduction                           
1 The Paradigm of Denial                              
2 Pushing the Boundaries                              
3 Madison as a Melting Pot                          
4 Williams and the Wisconsin Critique                                  
5 The Wisconsin Interpretation Expanded                            
6 The Student Radicals                                  
7 The New Left Intellectuals                         
Conclusion                             
 
Notes                         
Bibliography                          
Index

Editorial Reviews

“In this deep exploration of the work of William Appleman Williams and other scholars of the ‘Wisconsin school’ approach to the study of the US empire, independent scholar Morgan argues that, influenced by the progressive political climate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Williams pioneered a groundbreaking understanding of US imperialism in the 1950s.”—Choice