The Great American Mission

America in the World

Book 6
Princeton University Press
Free sample

The Great American Mission traces how America's global modernization efforts during the twentieth century were a means to remake the world in its own image. David Ekbladh shows that the emerging concept of modernization combined existing development ideas from the Depression. He describes how ambitious New Deal programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority became symbols of American liberalism's ability to marshal the social sciences, state planning, civil society, and technology to produce extensive social and economic change. For proponents, it became a valuable weapon to check the influence of menacing ideologies such as Fascism and Communism.

Modernization took on profound geopolitical importance as the United States grappled with these threats. After World War II, modernization remained a means to contain the growing influence of the Soviet Union. Ekbladh demonstrates how U.S.-led nation-building efforts in global hot spots, enlisting an array of nongovernmental groups and international organizations, were a basic part of American strategy in the Cold War.


However, a close connection to the Vietnam War and the upheavals of the 1960s would discredit modernization. The end of the Cold War further obscured modernization's mission, but many of its assumptions regained prominence after September 11 as the United States moved to contain new threats. Using new sources and perspectives, The Great American Mission offers new and challenging interpretations of America's ideological motivations and humanitarian responsibilities abroad.

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About the author

David Ekbladh is assistant professor of history at Tufts University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 8, 2011
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Pages
408
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ISBN
9781400833740
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / General
History / Modern / 20th Century
History / United States / 20th Century
History / World
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The 1970s looks at an iconic decade when the cultural left and economic right came to the fore in American society and the world at large. While many have seen the 1970s as simply a period of failures epitomized by Watergate, inflation, the oil crisis, global unrest, and disillusionment with military efforts in Vietnam, Thomas Borstelmann creates a new framework for understanding the period and its legacy. He demonstrates how the 1970s increased social inclusiveness and, at the same time, encouraged commitments to the free market and wariness of government. As a result, American culture and much of the rest of the world became more--and less--equal.

Borstelmann explores how the 1970s forged the contours of contemporary America. Military, political, and economic crises undercut citizens' confidence in government. Free market enthusiasm led to lower taxes, a volunteer army, individual 401(k) retirement plans, free agency in sports, deregulated airlines, and expansions in gambling and pornography. At the same time, the movement for civil rights grew, promoting changes for women, gays, immigrants, and the disabled. And developments were not limited to the United States. Many countries gave up colonial and racial hierarchies to develop a new formal commitment to human rights, while economic deregulation spread to other parts of the world, from Chile and the United Kingdom to China.


Placing a tempestuous political culture within a global perspective, The 1970s shows that the decade wrought irrevocable transformations upon American society and the broader world that continue to resonate today.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

How should America wield its enormous power beyond its borders? Should it adhere to grand principles or act on narrow self-interest? Should it partner with other nations or avoid entangling alliances? Americans have been grappling with questions like these throughout the nation's history, and especially since the emergence of the United States as a major world power in the late nineteenth century. America in the World illuminates this history by capturing the diverse voices and viewpoints of some of the most colorful and eloquent people who participated in these momentous debates.

Spanning the era from the Gilded Age to the Obama years, this unique reader collects more than two hundred documents--everything from presidential addresses and diplomatic cables to political cartoons and song lyrics. It encompasses various phases of American diplomatic history that are typically treated separately, such as the First World War, the Cold War, and 9/11. The book presents the perspectives of elite policymakers--presidents, secretaries of state, generals, and diplomats--alongside those of other kinds of Americans, such as newspaper columnists, clergymen, songwriters, poets, and novelists. It also features numerous documents from other countries, illustrating how foreigners viewed America’s role in the world.

Ideal for classroom use, America in the World sheds light on the complex interplay of political, economic, ideological, and cultural factors underlying the exercise of American power on the global stage.

Includes more than two hundred documents from the late nineteenth century to today
Looks at everything from presidential addresses to political cartoons and song lyrics
Presents diverse perspectives, from elite policymakers to clergymen and novelists
Features documents from outside the United States, illustrating how people in other countries viewed America’s role in the world
Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) organized the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Harlem in 1917. By the early 1920s, his program of African liberation and racial uplift had attracted millions of supporters, both in the United States and abroad. The Age of Garvey presents an expansive global history of the movement that came to be known as Garveyism. Offering a groundbreaking new interpretation of global black politics between the First and Second World Wars, Adam Ewing charts Garveyism's emergence, its remarkable global transmission, and its influence in the responses among African descendants to white supremacy and colonial rule in Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States.

Delving into the organizing work and political approach of Garvey and his followers, Ewing shows that Garveyism emerged from a rich tradition of pan-African politics that had established, by the First World War, lines of communication among black intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic. Garvey’s legacy was to reengineer this tradition as a vibrant and multifaceted mass politics. Ewing looks at the people who enabled Garveyism’s global spread, including labor activists in the Caribbean and Central America, community organizers in the urban and rural United States, millennial religious revivalists in central and southern Africa, welfare associations and independent church activists in Malawi and Zambia, and an emerging generation of Kikuyu leadership in central Kenya. Moving away from the images of quixotic business schemes and repatriation efforts, The Age of Garvey demonstrates the consequences of Garveyism’s international presence and provides a dynamic and unified framework for understanding the movement, during the interwar years and beyond.

In Asia the 1950s were dominated by political decolonization and the emergence of the Cold War system, and newly independent countries were able to utilize the transformed balance of power for their own economic development through economic and strategic aid programmes. This book examines the interconnections between the transfer of power and state governance in Asia, the emergence of the Cold War, and the transfer of hegemony from the UK to the US, by focusing specifically on the historical roles of international economic aid and the autonomous response from Asian nation states in the immediate post-war context.

The Transformation of the International Order of Asia

offers closely interwoven perspectives on international economic and political relations from the 1950s to the 1960s, with specific focus on the Colombo Plan and related aid policies of the time. It shows how the plan served different purposes: Britain’s aim to reduce India’s wartime sterling balances in London; the quest for India’s economic independence under Jawaharlal Nehru; Japan’s regional economic assertion and its endeavour to improve its international status; Britain’s publicity policy during the reorganization of British aid policies at a time of economic crisis; and more broadly, the West’s desire to counter Soviet influence in Asia. In doing so, the chapters explore how international economic aid relations became reorganized in relation to the independent development of states in Asia during the period, and crucially, the role this transformation played in the emergence of a new international order in Asia.

Drawing on a wide range of international contemporary and archival source materials, this book will be welcomed by students and scholars interested in Asian, international, and economic history, politics and development studies.

Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2002
Community organizing became an integral part of the activist repertoire of the New Left in the 1960s. Students for a Democratic Society, the organization that came to be seen as synonymous with the white New Left, began community organizing in 1963, hoping to build an interracial movement of the poor through which to demand social and political change. SDS sought nothing less than to abolish poverty and extend democratic participation in America.
Over the next five years, organizers established a strong presence in numerous low-income, racially diverse urban neighborhoods in Chicago, Cleveland, Newark, and Boston, as well as other cities. Rejecting the strategies of the old left and labor movement and inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, activists sought to combine a number of single issues into a broader, more powerful coalition. Organizers never limited themselves to today's simple dichotomies of race vs. class or of identity politics vs. economic inequality. They actively synthesized emerging identity politics with class and coalition politics and with a drive for a more participatory welfare state, treating these diverse political approaches as inextricably intertwined. While common wisdom holds that the New Left rejected all state involvement as cooptative at best, Jennifer Frost traces the ways in which New Left and community activists did in fact put forward a prescriptive, even visionary, alternative to the welfare state.
After Students for a Democratic Society and its community organizing unit, the Economic Research and Action Project, disbanded, New Left and community participants went on to apply their strategies and goals to the welfare rights, women’s liberation, and the antiwar movements. In her study of activism before the age of identity politics, Frost has given us the first full-fledged history of what was arguably the most innovative community organizing campaign in post-war American history.
A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian’s "breathtakingly original" (Junot Diaz) reinterpretation of the eight decades surrounding the Civil War. "Capatious [and] buzzing with ideas."  --The Boston Globe

Volume 3 in the Penguin History of the United States, edited by Eric Foner

In this ambitious story of American imperial conquest and capitalist development, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Steven Hahn takes on the conventional histories of the nineteenth century and offers a perspective that promises to be as enduring as it is controversial. It begins and ends in Mexico and, throughout, is internationalist in orientation. It challenges the political narrative of “sectionalism,” emphasizing the national footing of slavery and the struggle between the northeast and Mississippi Valley for continental supremacy. It places the Civil War in the context of many domestic rebellions against state authority, including those of Native Americans. It fully incorporates the trans-Mississippi west, suggesting the importance of the Pacific to the imperial vision of political leaders and of the west as a proving ground for later imperial projects overseas. It reconfigures the history of capitalism, insisting on the centrality of state formation and slave emancipation to its consolidation. And it identifies a sweeping era of “reconstructions” in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that simultaneously laid the foundations for corporate liberalism and social democracy. 

The era from 1830 to 1910 witnessed massive transformations in how people lived, worked, thought about themselves, and struggled to thrive. It also witnessed the birth of economic and political institutions that still shape our world. From an agricultural society with a weak central government, the United States became an urban and industrial society in which government assumed a greater and greater role in the framing of social and economic life. As the book ends, the United States, now a global economic and political power, encounters massive warfare between imperial powers in Europe and a massive revolution on its southern border―the remarkable Mexican Revolution―which together brought the nineteenth century to a close while marking the important themes of the twentieth.
During the nineteenth century, the United States entered the ranks of the world's most advanced and dynamic economies. At the same time, the nation sustained an expansive and brutal system of human bondage. This was no mere coincidence. Slavery's Capitalism argues for slavery's centrality to the emergence of American capitalism in the decades between the Revolution and the Civil War. According to editors Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, the issue is not whether slavery itself was or was not capitalist but, rather, the impossibility of understanding the nation's spectacular pattern of economic development without situating slavery front and center. American capitalism—renowned for its celebration of market competition, private property, and the self-made man—has its origins in an American slavery predicated on the abhorrent notion that human beings could be legally owned and compelled to work under force of violence.

Drawing on the expertise of sixteen scholars who are at the forefront of rewriting the history of American economic development, Slavery's Capitalism identifies slavery as the primary force driving key innovations in entrepreneurship, finance, accounting, management, and political economy that are too often attributed to the so-called free market. Approaching the study of slavery as the originating catalyst for the Industrial Revolution and modern capitalism casts new light on American credit markets, practices of offshore investment, and understandings of human capital. Rather than seeing slavery as outside the institutional structures of capitalism, the essayists recover slavery's importance to the American economic past and prompt enduring questions about the relationship of market freedom to human freedom.

Contributors: Edward E. Baptist, Sven Beckert, Daina Ramey Berry, Kathryn Boodry, Alfred L. Brophy, Stephen Chambers, Eric Kimball, John Majewski, Bonnie Martin, Seth Rockman, Daniel B. Rood, Caitlin Rosenthal, Joshua D. Rothman, Calvin Schermerhorn, Andrew Shankman, Craig Steven Wilder.

The 1970s looks at an iconic decade when the cultural left and economic right came to the fore in American society and the world at large. While many have seen the 1970s as simply a period of failures epitomized by Watergate, inflation, the oil crisis, global unrest, and disillusionment with military efforts in Vietnam, Thomas Borstelmann creates a new framework for understanding the period and its legacy. He demonstrates how the 1970s increased social inclusiveness and, at the same time, encouraged commitments to the free market and wariness of government. As a result, American culture and much of the rest of the world became more--and less--equal.

Borstelmann explores how the 1970s forged the contours of contemporary America. Military, political, and economic crises undercut citizens' confidence in government. Free market enthusiasm led to lower taxes, a volunteer army, individual 401(k) retirement plans, free agency in sports, deregulated airlines, and expansions in gambling and pornography. At the same time, the movement for civil rights grew, promoting changes for women, gays, immigrants, and the disabled. And developments were not limited to the United States. Many countries gave up colonial and racial hierarchies to develop a new formal commitment to human rights, while economic deregulation spread to other parts of the world, from Chile and the United Kingdom to China.


Placing a tempestuous political culture within a global perspective, The 1970s shows that the decade wrought irrevocable transformations upon American society and the broader world that continue to resonate today.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

Because it provided the dominant framework for "development" of poor, postcolonial countries, modernization theory ranks among the most important constructs of twentieth-century social science. In Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America Nils Gilman offers the first intellectual history of a movement that has had far-reaching and often unintended consequences.

After a survey of the theory's origins and its role in forming America's postwar sense of global mission, Gilman offers a close analysis of the people who did the most to promote it in the United States and the academic institutions they came to dominate. He first explains how Talcott Parsons at Harvard constructed a social theory that challenged the prevailing economics-centered understanding of the modernization process, then describes the work of Edward Shils and Gabriel Almond in helping Parsonsian ideas triumph over other alternative conceptions of the development process, and finally discusses the role of Walt Rostow and his colleagues at M.I.T. in promoting modernization theory during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. By connecting modernization theory to the welfare state liberalism programs of the New Deal order, Gilman not only provides a new intellectual context for America's Third World during the Cold War, but also connects the optimism of the Great Society to the notion that American power and good intentions could stop the postcolonial world from embracing communism.

-- Deborah Kisatsky
In 1958, an African-American handyman named Jimmy Wilson was sentenced to die in Alabama for stealing two dollars. Shocking as this sentence was, it was overturned only after intense international attention and the interference of an embarrassed John Foster Dulles. Soon after the United States' segregated military defeated a racist regime in World War II, American racism was a major concern of U.S. allies, a chief Soviet propaganda theme, and an obstacle to American Cold War goals throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Each lynching harmed foreign relations, and "the Negro problem" became a central issue in every administration from Truman to Johnson.

In what may be the best analysis of how international relations affected any domestic issue, Mary Dudziak interprets postwar civil rights as a Cold War feature. She argues that the Cold War helped facilitate key social reforms, including desegregation. Civil rights activists gained tremendous advantage as the government sought to polish its international image. But improving the nation's reputation did not always require real change. This focus on image rather than substance--combined with constraints on McCarthy-era political activism and the triumph of law-and-order rhetoric--limited the nature and extent of progress.


Archival information, much of it newly available, supports Dudziak's argument that civil rights was Cold War policy. But the story is also one of people: an African-American veteran of World War II lynched in Georgia; an attorney general flooded by civil rights petitions from abroad; the teenagers who desegregated Little Rock's Central High; African diplomats denied restaurant service; black artists living in Europe and supporting the civil rights movement from overseas; conservative politicians viewing desegregation as a communist plot; and civil rights leaders who saw their struggle eclipsed by Vietnam.


Never before has any scholar so directly connected civil rights and the Cold War. Contributing mightily to our understanding of both, Dudziak advances--in clear and lively prose--a new wave of scholarship that corrects isolationist tendencies in American history by applying an international perspective to domestic affairs.


In her new preface, Dudziak discusses the way the Cold War figures into civil rights history, and details this book's origins, as one question about civil rights could not be answered without broadening her research from domestic to international influences on American history.

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