John A. Thompson’s new book tackles why the United States took on the responsibilities of a global leader
by Maurice H. Alexander
America may still lead the free world, but the era of the nation’s dominant position in world politics and the global economy has begun to wane. A rising China and resurgent Russia are beginning to challenge the United States in ways that it cannot ignore. The question remains whether America will rise to the occasion or quietly retire as a superpower. Predicting the nation’s path, however, requires knowing its past route.
How the United States managed to take the global center stage is a question settled by the histories of the First and Second World Wars, but why the nation did so is not as clear. What pushed the U.S. to take on the role of superpower, and could that drive still apply today?
A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role charts the rise of the United States as a world power from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century in order to follow the evolution of the nation’s foreign policy directives. Out of a thoroughly academic review of American history, Dr. John A. Thompson, author and professor emeritus of American Studies at the University of Cambridge, makes the case that there is possibly one core motivation—what he calls America’s …
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