Jackson Lears is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers, Editor in Chief of Raritan, and the author of Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877–1920, among other books. (February 2019)
Empire in Retreat: The Past, Present, and Future of the United States
by Victor Bulmer-Thomas
Republic in Peril: American Empire and the Liberal Tradition
by David C. Hendrickson
It is hard to give up something you claim you never had. That is the difficulty Americans face with respect to their country’s empire. Since the era of Theodore Roosevelt, politicians, journalists, and even some historians have deployed euphemisms—“expansionism,” “the large policy,” “internationalism,” “global leadership”—to disguise America’s imperial ambitions. According to the exceptionalist creed embraced by both political parties and most of the press, imperialism was a European venture that involved seizing territories, extracting their resources, and dominating their (invariably dark-skinned) populations. Americans, we have been told, do things differently: they bestow self-determination on backward peoples who yearn for it.
In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea
by Danny Goldberg
New Reformation: Notes of a Neolithic Conservative
by Paul Goodman
Certain years acquire an almost numinous quality in collective memory—1789, 1861, 1914. One of the more recent additions to the list is 1968. Its fiftieth anniversary has brought a flood of attempts to recapture it—local, national, and transnational histories, anthologies, memoirs, even performance art and musical theater. Immersion in this literature soon produces a feeling of déjà vu, particularly if one was politically conscious at the time (as I was).
Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919
by Mike Wallace
The apparently hedonistic culture that emerged before World War I was a muddle of flagrant gestures toward personal liberation and subtle new forms of social coercion. Early-twentieth-century American society was on the verge of a reshuffling of values and power relations in which the rich would come out just fine. And New York City was where that new synthesis would be worked out, in all its messy and contradictory details.
The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire
by Stephen Kinzer
For decades, anti-imperial thought has been largely absent from public discourse. So has the word “imperialism.” The chief substitute for it has been “internationalism.” The rhetorical shift from imperialism to internationalism suggests a sanitizing process at work during the twentieth century, as the United States moved away from a formal empire based on the occupation of foreign territory to an informal empire based on proxy governments backed by occasional US invasions.