Power Without Victory: Woodrow Wilson And The American Internationalist Experiment

Paperback | June 15, 2017

byTrygve Throntveit

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For decades, Woodrow Wilson has been remembered as either a paternalistic liberal or reactionary conservative at home and as a naïve idealist or cynical imperialist abroad. Historians’ harsh judgments of Wilson are understandable. He won two elections by promising a deliberative democratic process that would ensure justice and political empowerment for all. Yet under Wilson, Jim Crow persisted, interventions in Latin America increased, and a humiliating peace settlement was forced upon Germany. A generation after Wilson, stark inequalities and injustices still plagued the nation, myopic nationalism hindered its responsible engagement in world affairs, and a second vastly destructive global conflict threatened the survival of democracy worldwide—leaving some Americans today to wonder what, exactly, the buildings and programs bearing his name are commemorating.

In Power without Victory, Trygve Throntveit argues that there is more to the story of Wilson than these sad truths. Throntveit makes the case that Wilson was not a “Wilsonian,” as that term has come to be understood, but a principled pragmatist in the tradition of William James. He did not seek to stamp American-style democracy on other peoples, but to enable the gradual development of a genuinely global system of governance that would maintain justice and facilitate peaceful change—a goal that, contrary to historical tradition, the American people embraced. In this brilliant intellectual, cultural, and political history, Throntveit gives us a new vision of Wilson, as well as a model of how to think about the complex relationship between the world of ideas and the worlds of policy and diplomacy.

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For decades, Woodrow Wilson has been remembered as either a paternalistic liberal or reactionary conservative at home and as a naïve idealist or cynical imperialist abroad. Historians’ harsh judgments of Wilson are understandable. He won two elections by promising a deliberative democratic process that would ensure justice and politica...

Trygve Throntveit is Dean’s Fellow for Civic Studies at the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development. He is the author of William James and the Quest for an Ethical Republic.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:June 15, 2017Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022645990X

ISBN - 13:9780226459905

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. The Ethical Republic
2. Common Counsel
3. A Certain Blindness
4. Trials of Neutrality
5. Trojan Horsemanship
6. Provincials No Longer
7. The Will to Believe
8. The Fable of the Fourteen Points
9. A Living Thing Is Born
Conclusion: Power without Victory and the Right to Believe
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations of Names and Sources Used in the Notes
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“In Power without Victory, Throntveit brilliantly illuminates the rich intellectual terrain upon which Woodrow Wilson cast his sweeping democratic vision of global order. Strikingly original, the book reframes our understanding of Wilson and his hopes for democratic renewal at home and peaceful change abroad. In this narrative, Wilson is a man of his time, embracing a pragmatic public philosophy and spirit of reform that ran through the American and European progressive intellectual and political world. Throntveit sees clearly Wilson’s moral flaws and blind spots, but he also finds in Wilson an earnest and grandly ambitious thinker who truly did offer a vision of a transformed world in which democracy and civil virtue would reign.”