Book review: A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean by Alan McPherson

In A Short History of U.S. Interventions, part of Wiley-Blackwell’s Viewpoints/Punto de Vista series, Alan McPherson analyses U.S. interventions in Latin America from the No Transfer resolution of 1811 through the present-day drug wars. McPherson argues that the foremost goal of U.S. policymakers was ‘political stability and political cultural change’ (4). Economic and other motivations certainly played a role, but he asserts that every intervention ‘harboured above all political motives’ (4). Continue reading

Book Review: Legalist Empire: International Law and American Foreign Relations in the Early Twentieth Century by Benjamin Allen Coates

Benjamin Coates convincingly demonstrates that, during the first two decades of the twentieth century, international lawyers helped shaped the ascendency of the United States and justified the expansion of its empire among governmental policy makers and within wider intellectual discourses. Driven by a desire to put ‘international law into the history of American empire, and the history of empire into international law,’ Coates successfully collates disparate scholarship that has, until now, been scattered across several disciplines (5). Continue reading

Review: ‘Ideas and Transformations in the Americas’, UCL Institute of the Americas PG Conference

Interdisciplinary panels, ranging from the ‘Unheard Voices of the Caribbean’ to ‘Transnational Perspectives of the US’, stimulated lively debate and reflection between chairs and audiences. These, and others, engaged with a range of historical approaches and topics. Continue reading

Champions of Compassion: The American Council of Voluntary Agencies for Foreign Service and Cold War-Era U.S. Foreign Policy

In the context of the Cold War, writes Joshua Mather, policymakers proved eager to enlist voluntary agencies (and their supporters) in initiatives that enhanced the United States’ image abroad and showcased the altruism nurtured by a democratic, capitalist society. Fully aware of the global struggle for hearts and minds, American Council of Voluntary Agencies for Foreign Service, Inc. leaders touted state-private humanitarianism’s value for U.S. foreign policy. By portraying Americans as deeply attuned to the needs of ordinary foreigners, and voluntary agencies as the collective embodiment of this concern, ACVAFS hoped to score a public diplomacy victory for the United States. Continue reading

Book Review: Democracy Promotion, National Security and Strategy by Robert Pee

The era that Pee covers was, of course, one of high political and cultural tension, thus the arguments that he elucidates in Democracy Promotion are often controversial and heavily mediated by particular political and social persuasions. It is therefore refreshing to find that Pee’s opening chapter recognizes many of these tensions and seeks to forge a path between them. Continue reading

Book Review: Formations of United States Colonialism edited by Alyosha Goldstein

This collection’s ‘unique selling point’ is that it places the overseas empire and the settler colonialism of the United States in the same analytical frame. Influenced by the groundbreaking work of Amy Kaplan and Donald E. Pease, Goldstein continues their work in attempting to highlight the error of U.S. imperial denial.
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Review: ‘The Historical “Dispute of the New World”: European Historians of the United States and European History, Culture and Public Life’

The vast majority of speakers emphasized the importance of geographic location in writing U.S. history, albeit with different nuances. For example, diverse focuses included migration among Swedish Americanists, the state in France, and transatlantic relations in Italy, clearly showed the relevance of location in defining the different national contexts of U.S. historiography. Continue reading

Book Review: American Foreign Policy: Alliance Politics in a Century of War, 1914-2014, by James W. Peterson

Focusing his attention on the allied countries that fought on the side of the USA over the multiple wars in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and questioning whether without this considerable political and military support America could be considered as strong an opponent as it was, James W. Peterson discusses the reasons for American involvement in those conflicts. Continue reading

Book Review: Grover Cleveland’s New Foreign Policy: Arbitration, Neutrality, and the Dawn of American Empire by Nick Cleaver

Rather than viewing his presidency with the war in mind as the end point of all post-Civil War foreign policy, Nick Cleaver presents an intriguing re-examination of the president and his two chief policy makers, Walter Gresham and Richard Olney, which argues that his foreign policy was formulated with a distinct vision of how the United States should conduct itself in the world that was different from both his predecessors and successors. Continue reading