Catalogue


Blessed among nations : how the world made America /
Eric Rauchway.
imprint
New York : Hill and Wang, 2006.
description
240 p.
ISBN
0809055805 (hardcover : alk. paper), 9780809055807 (hardcover : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Hill and Wang, 2006.
isbn
0809055805 (hardcover : alk. paper)
9780809055807 (hardcover : alk. paper)
catalogue key
5928532
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Eric Rauchway teaches at the University of California, Davis
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Excerpted from Blessed Among Nations by Eric Rauchway. Copyright 2006 by Eric Rauchway. Published in July 2006 by Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. Introduction This book offers a look at American history through the lens of globalization. Like a regular optical lens you might find in a telescope or a microscope, it is meant to help you see something you wouldn't if you were simply looking with your unaided eyes. It directs your attention to the movements of money and people around the globe, and how they influenced American politics and culture. Also like a regular optical lens, it is better at bringing some kinds of things into focus than others. Just as a telescope is terrific for marveling at the mountains on the moon but pretty poor for peering at paramecia, this book is designed to help you get an appreciation for the effects of powerful global forces, not local ones. It's not that we don't care about the paramecia of the past. The microscopic view of history, when carefully trained on the right subjecta mad prophet, a frontier speculator, a presidential assassincan tell us a great deal. But if we want to see large features in faraway landscapes, we need to overlook these otherwise compelling close-ups. There is another way in which I hope this book will work like a lens. Like a lot of people, I need corrective lenses to see properly, and also like a lot of people I don't like to go to the doctor very much. So people like me will wear a pair of glasses for years without seeing an optometrist. And during that time, those glasses, which were perfectly designed to help us see when they were made, get worse and worse at their job. The lenses aren't changing, but our eyes are. We just don't notice because it happens so slowly. Then, finally, we get tired of the headaches and the blurry vision and we go to the doctor and get a properly prescribed pair of spectacles. And we put them on, and suddenly we see the world as if it were new, and we realize we've been squinting through outdated lenses for far too long. I think that much of what we see nowadays when we look at American history is like this, a picture as seen through lenses that worked fine for us once, but don't work so well now that we've changed. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with our old glasses; they were just meant for a different set of eyes, and too much of the world now looks out of focus. When you put on your new glasses after delaying a visit to the doctor for too long, you suddenly wonder how you could ever have stood to look through the old ones. I hope this book will help us see America's place in the world with the same freshness, so that we can see the same old story with a new clarity and begin to wonder how we could ever have stood to look at the world through those quaint old spectacles, missing so much of such importance. Specifically, using globalization as a lens brings into focus the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world in the late nineteenth century, and how this relationship shaped American political development. Capital and labor from overseas pushed American political development in noticeably unusual directions during a particularly important growth spurt. This early formative influence bequeathed the United States some peculiar and lasting habits of government. The effects of globalization helped the country become a powerful nation without developing (in comparative terms) a powerful central government. In the United States, as in some other countries, we often argue over the appropriate size and authority of national government, and usually we argue from principle: a big government is b
Excerpt from Book
Excerpted fromBlessed Among Nationsby Eric Rauchway. Copyright 2006 by Eric Rauchway. Published in July 2006 by Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. Introduction This book offers a look at American history through the lens of globalization. Like a regular optical lens you might find in a telescope or a microscope, it is meant to help you see something you wouldn't if you were simply looking with your unaided eyes. It directs your attention to the movements of money and people around the globe, and how they influenced American politics and culture. Also like a regular optical lens, it is better at bringing some kinds of things into focus than others. Just as a telescope is terrific for marveling at the mountains on the moon but pretty poor for peering at paramecia, this book is designed to help you get an appreciation for the effects of powerful global forces, not local ones. It's not that we don't care about the paramecia of the past. The microscopic view of history, when carefully trained on the right subjecta mad prophet, a frontier speculator, a presidential assassincan tell us a great deal. But if we want to see large features in faraway landscapes, we need to overlook these otherwise compelling close-ups. There is another way in which I hope this book will work like a lens. Like a lot of people, I need corrective lenses to see properly, and also like a lot of people I don't like to go to the doctor very much. So people like me will wear a pair of glasses for years without seeing an optometrist. And during that time, those glasses, which were perfectly designed to help us see when they were made, get worse and worse at their job. The lenses aren't changing, but our eyes are. We just don't notice because it happens so slowly. Then, finally, we get tired of the headaches and the blurry vision and we go to the doctor and get a properly prescribed pair of spectacles. And we put them on, and suddenly we see the world as if it were new, and we realize we've been squinting through outdated lenses for far too long. I think that much of what we see nowadays when we look at American history is like this, a picture as seen through lenses that worked fine for us once, but don't work so well now that we've changed. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with our old glasses; they were just meant for a different set of eyes, and too much of the world now looks out of focus. When you put on your new glasses after delaying a visit to the doctor for too long, you suddenly wonder how you could ever have stood to look through the old ones. I hope this book will help us see America's place in the world with the same freshness, so that we can see the same old story with a new clarity and begin to wonder how we could ever have stood to look at the world through those quaint old spectacles, missing so much of such importance. Specifically, using globalization as a lens brings into focus the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world in the late nineteenth century, and how this relationship shaped American political development. Capital and labor from overseas pushed American political development in noticeably unusual directions during a particularly important growth spurt. This early formative influence bequeathed the United States some peculiar and lasting habits of government. The effects of globalization helped the country become a powerful nation without developing (in comparative terms) a powerful central government. In the United States, as in some other countries, we often argue over the appropriate size and authority of national government, and usually we argue from principle: a big government is bet
First Chapter
Excerpted from Blessed Among Nations by Eric Rauchway. Copyright © 2006 by Eric Rauchway. Published in July 2006 by Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
 
Introduction
 
This book offers a look at American history through the lens of globalization. Like a regular optical lens you might find in a telescope or a microscope, it is meant to help you see something you wouldn’t if you were simply looking with your unaided eyes. It directs your attention to the movements of money and people around the globe, and how they influenced American politics and culture.
 
Also like a regular optical lens, it is better at bringing some kinds of things into focus than others. Just as a telescope is terrific for marveling at the mountains on the moon but pretty poor for peering at paramecia, this book is designed to help you get an appreciation for the effects of powerful global forces, not local ones.
 
It’s not that we don’t care about the paramecia of the past. The microscopic view of history, when carefully trained on the right subject—a mad prophet, a frontier speculator, a presidential assassin—can tell us a great deal. But if we want to see large features in faraway landscapes, we need to overlook these otherwise compelling close-ups.
 
There is another way in which I hope this book will work like a lens. Like a lot of people, I need corrective lenses to see properly, and also like a lot of people I don’t like to go to the doctor very much. So people like me will wear a pair of glasses for years without seeing an optometrist. And during that time, those glasses, which were perfectly designed to help us see when they were made, get worse and worse at their job. The lenses aren’t changing, but our eyes are. We just don’t notice because it happens so slowly. Then, finally, we get tired of the headaches and the blurry vision and we go to the doctor and get a properly prescribed pair of spectacles. And we put them on, and suddenly we see the world as if it were new, and we realize we’ve been squinting through outdated lenses for far too long. I think that much of what we see nowadays when we look at American history is like this, a picture as seen through lenses that worked fine for us once, but don’t work so well now that we’ve changed. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with our old glasses; they were just meant for a different set of eyes, and too much of the world now looks out of focus.
 
When you put on your new glasses after delaying a visit to the doctor for too long, you suddenly wonder how you could ever have stood to look through the old ones. I hope this book will help us see America’s place in the world with the same freshness, so that we can see the same old story with a new clarity and begin to wonder how we could ever have stood to look at the world through those quaint old spectacles, missing so much of such importance.
 
Specifically, using globalization as a lens brings into focus the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world in the late nineteenth century, and how this relationship shaped American political development. Capital and labor from overseas pushed American political development in noticeably unusual directions during a particularly important growth spurt. This early formative influence bequeathed the United States some peculiar and lasting habits of government. The effects of globalization helped the country become a powerful nation without developing (in comparative terms) a powerful central government. In the United States, as in some other countries, we often argue over the appropriate size and authority of national government, and usually we argue from principle: a big government is better because it can provide security; a small government is better because it can allow freedom. These arguments from principle have what to a historian seems like an unfortunately timeless quality, as if government were some uniform product, of which you can have too much or too little, but which is always the same thing. If we look at how government grew in the first place, we might remember that it is a set of solutions to a set of problems—not theoretical problems, but practical problems—and that, in practice, not all peoples face the same problems. During its growth into a powerful nation, the United States faced a set of problems unlike those any other nation has encountered. Americans formed their habits of government by solving a set of problems specific to their circumstances. And we know that habits often outlast the circumstances that justified them, just as we often wear prescription eyeglasses long after our eyes have changed, and sometimes with bad consequences.
 
The long life of American habits, which outlasted the circumstances to which they were suited, has affected not only the United States but also the rest of the world fairly dramatically. To take up a literally dramatic analogy: the fifty-year period from 1865 through 1914 is, in the history of the Western world, like the play Hamlet. The great actors on the international stage, set at odds by bad faith, misunderstanding, and the fateful entanglement of their interests, come ever closer to catastrophe until finally they clash, and after a gruesome bout of killing none of the major players is left standing. It’s terribly moving, and we in the audience feel emotionally drained. Then, somewhat confusingly, a fellow named Fortinbras walks on and says, well, now I’m the king of Denmark. And…curtain. Even in Shakespeare’s full script there’s little indication of who Fortinbras is, or what he’s been up to.1 His story, whatever it is, must have gone on mostly separate from that of Hamlet and his family, because we’ve been watching them, and there’s been scarcely any mention of Fortinbras. Yet he must have been, in some important way that was taking place offstage or, if you prefer, outside the principal focus of the action, connected to the characters and events of the play, because here he is, king. There is something very wrong with the end of this play; the foreseeable future seems dramatically disconnected from the immediate past as we have learned it.
 
The world’s people must have felt much this sense of puzzlement and anxiety in 1918, when at war’s end the Americans suddenly emerged as the planet’s great power. Where had these Americans been, what had they been up to, and what did they think were the normal relations among nations? Most of the world’s people knew little more about the United States in 1918 than theatergoers know about Fortinbras at the end of Hamlet, and in significant ways we know little more now than they did then, because we have been telling this history as if we’ve been restaging Hamlet, without any attention to the important offstage back story. We need now, all of us, to know not only what the American Fortinbras was doing just before he emerged from the wings, but also how his strange tale connects to the main action, if we want to understand why he has gone on to behave as he did and what it means to the world.

Excerpted from Blessed among Nations: How the World Made America by Eric Rauchway
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2006-12-01:
Rauchway's excellent new book about the 50 years of US history between the end of the Civil War and the end of WW I examines the first era of globalization in an effort to illustrate how the rest of the world impacted the rapid rise of the US and conversely how the US's first encounter with globalization produced a devastating negative impact on the global economy during the interwar period. The author crafts an understanding of past US global interactions as insight to the country's current struggle with globalization from issues of "empire" to immigration. Employing an appropriately neutral tone, Rauchway discusses the increasing role of the US, the question of US "exceptionalism," and the impact of US policy on the first age of globalization. By dividing the book into thematic chapters ("Capital," "Labor," "Welfare," "Warfare"), Rauchway ensures that it does not get caught up in an emotional debate, but serves to clarify the links between these themes and the US experience. Thirty-eight pages of endnotes and references enhance this slim, well-written book, which should attract academic as well as nonacademic readers with an interest in globalization and the US's evolving role in the world. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduate collections on US history, US foreign policy, economic history, globalization. S. M. McDonald Bentley College
Appeared in Library Journal on 2006-06-15:
The furor created in the United States by recent demonstrations on behalf of illegal immigrants makes Rauchway's analysis of America's early experiences with a global community especially timely. Rauchway (history, Univ. of California, Davis; Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt's America) posits that the United States became quintessentially "American," i.e., an economic powerhouse, in the years between the Civil War and World War I. In a staunchly unbiased fashion, he draws upon events during those years that made the United States the favored recipient of foreign capital investment. Cheap immigrant labor played a central role in the building of America, while other countries spent far more on the social welfare of their citizens than did the United States. Yet the influx of labor and capital did not make America more like other nations but instead more distinctive; it came to see itself, in President Wilson's phrase, as "blessed among nations," a concept that fostered the smug isolationism it abandoned when the United States was forced to enter World War I and become a major player in world affairs. Rauchway believes that the United States, by virtue of its standing among nations, has the obligation to maintain a commitment to globalization rather than to regard it as a self-regulating mechanism. An excellent addition for all academic and large public libraries. Peter R. Latusek, Stanford Graduate Sch. of Business Lib., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Written by an accomplished, imaginative historian who well understands those beginnings of modern America -- the years of the Progressive Era -- this book on one level suggests why socialism never took root in the United States, and why the supposed melting pot and the early Federal Reserve System worked as they did, but on quite another level develops a highly revealing argument how Americans' faith in their "empire" and their exceptionalism shaped in often unexpected ways what we now call globalization and their part in it." Walter LaFeber, Tisch University Professor, Cornell University Praise for Murdering McKinley: "A fascinating story of America at a crossroads." --Bob Hoover, Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh "A fascinating trip through late-19th century America . . . A compact masterpiece . . . A book that holds high the standard for popular history." --Heather Cox Richardson, Chicago Tribune
"Written by an accomplished, imaginative historian who well understands those beginnings of modern America -- the years of the Progressive Era -- this book on one level suggests why socialism never took root in the United States, and why the supposed melting pot and the early Federal Reserve System worked as they did, but on quite another level develops a highly revealing argument how Americans' faith in their "empire" and their exceptionalism shaped in often unexpected ways what we now call globalization and their part in it." --Walter LaFeber, Tisch University Professor, Cornell University "I can always depend on Eric Rauchway to display the meticulousness of a careful historian with the literary flair of a fine novelist. "Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America "adds to this admixture a powerful public voice as well; a tour de force." -- Eric Alterman, author of "When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and Its Consequences...""" " " " ""With his trademark lapidary elegance, Rauchway shows us that America's position astride the currents of globalization is due not merely to a mysteriously voracious capitalistic impulse, but to often fortuitous effects of seemingly unconnected particulars, such as monopolies rather than government dominating lending, and the diversity of our immigrants impeding a socialist revolution. A flinty and compelling synthesis."--John McWhorter, author of "Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America" " " "American 'exceptionalism' is one of those things often asserted, seldom convincingly proved. By setting the history of the United States in the context of the history of the first age of globalization, EricRauchway has come up with a powerful new argument about what exactly made the American experience different. "Blessed Among Nations" is both brilliant and convincing. For the breadth of his vision, the author deserves to be blessed among U.S. historians" --Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and author of "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire""" Praise for "Murdering McKinley": "A fascinating story of America at a crossroads." --Bob Hoover, "Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh " "A fascinating trip through late-19th century America . . . A compact masterpiece . . . A book that holds high the standard for popular history." --Heather Cox Richardson, "Chicago Tribune"
"Provocative..."Blessed Among Nations" combines the same fluid writing style, bold interpretive approach, and ambitious agenda that made the work of mid-twentieth century historians like Richard Hofstadter, Arthur Schlessigner, Jr., and C. Vann Woodward so important and so broadly relevant." --Joshua Zeitz, "American Heritage" " " "America''s rise to preeminence, the author argues, was the product of a perfect storm of foreign investment, luck, and global instability, and we forget at our peril the fickle nature of such forces. With hegemony comes responsibility, he suggests, responsibility that the U.S. may presently be all too willing to shirk." --"Atlantic Monthly" "Laying the groundwork for American empire was an international enterprise--so why doesn''t the world want to be American? ''The earth''s people have more often envied than imitated America, '' writes Rauchway, preferring parliamentarianism and welfare statism to republicanism and laissez-faire. To find out why, Rauchway examines America''s rise to empire, which occupied the years between 1865 and 1917. During that time, he writes, America received both financial and human capital from abroad; the working class was predominantly immigrant, as was the army that tamed the western frontier, while huge flows of European cash into the post-Civil War economy made an industrial super-revolution possible, leading to a manifold increase in the nation''s wealth. Yet Americans refused to do the things that newly wealthy countries do--namely, invest in public infrastructure and build social-welfare institutions and mechanisms. Rauchway observes that just before WWI, America''s army was smaller than Ethiopia''s, while ''relative tothe size of its economy it had a smaller government than the Netherlands; '' he reckons that at least some of the refusal to build a welfare state had precisely to do with the fact that the working class ''appeared visibly to consist of people from other countries, '' leading native-born Americans to look the other way when issues of, say, occupational safety and labor exploitation arose. Our laissez-faire ways seemed particularly problematic when it came time to raise an army to fight overseas, leading to the creation of particularly inept bureaucracies, for ''routine competence simply did not lie within the experience of Americans who had relied for years on an incidentally benevolent world to take care of them.'' And when it came time to protect the world economy with American initiatives after the armistice, Americans failed to come through, yielding worldwide depression--good reason to avoid imitating the American way of life. Given the current reliance on foreign capital and immigrant labor, Rauchway''s book is right on time and right on target."--"Kirkus Reviews" "The furor created in the United States by recent demonstrations on behalf of illegal immigrants makes Rauchway''s analysis of America''s early experiences with a global community especially timely. Rauchway posits that the United States became quintessentially ''American, '' i.e., an economic powerhouse, in the years between the Civil War and World War I. In a staunchly unbiased fashion, he draws upon events during those years that made the United States the favored recipient of foreign capital investment. Cheap immigrant labor played a central role in the building of America, while other countries spent far more on the socialwelfare of their citizens than did the United States. Yet the influx of labor and capital did not make America more like other nations but instead more distinctive; it came to see itself, in President Wilson''s phrase, as ''blessed among nations, '' a concept that fostered the smug isolationism it abandoned when the United States was forced to enter World War I and become a major player in world affairs. Rauchway believes that the United States, by virtue of its standing among nations, has the obligation to maintain a commitment to globalization rather than to regard
Praise for Murdering McKinley: "A fascinating story of America at a crossroads." --Bob Hoover, Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh "A fascinating trip through late-19th century America . . . A compact masterpiece . . . A book that holds high the standard for popular history." --Heather Cox Richardson, Chicago Tribune
" Provocative... "Blessed Among Nations" combines the same fluid writing style, bold interpretive approach, and ambitious agenda that made the work of mid- twentieth century historians like Richard Hofstadter, Arthur Schlessigner, Jr., and C. Vann Woodward so important and so broadly relevant." -- Joshua Zeitz, "American Heritage" " " " America'' s rise to preeminence, the author argues, was the product of a perfect storm of foreign investment, luck, and global instability, and we forget at our peril the fickle nature of such forces. With hegemony comes responsibility, he suggests, responsibility that the U.S. may presently be all too willing to shirk." -- "Atlantic Monthly" "Laying the groundwork for American empire was an international enterprise-- so why doesn''t the world want to be American? ''The earth''s people have more often envied than imitated America, '' writes Rauchway, preferring parliamentarianism and welfare statism to republicanism and laissez-faire. To find out why, Rauchway examines America''s rise to empire, which occupied the years between 1865 and 1917. During that time, he writes, America received both financial and human capital from abroad; the working class was predominantly immigrant, as was the army that tamed the western frontier, while huge flows of European cash into the post-Civil War economy made an industrial super-revolution possible, leading to a manifold increase in the nation''s wealth. Yet Americans refused to do the things that newly wealthy countries do-- namely, invest in public infrastructure and build social-welfare institutions andmechanisms. Rauchway observes that just before WWI, America''s army was smaller than Ethiopia''s, while ''relative to the size of its economy it had a smaller government than the Netherlands; '' he reckons that at least some of the refusal to build a welfare state had precisely to do with the fact that the working class ''appeared visibly to consist of people from other countries, '' leading native-born Americans to look the other way when issues of, say, occupational safety and labor exploitation arose. Our laissez-faire ways seemed particularly problematic when it came time to raise an army to fight overseas, leading to the creation of particularly inept bureaucracies, for ''routine competence simply did not lie within the experience of Americans who had relied for years on an incidentally benevolent world to take care of them.'' And when it came time to protect the world economy with American initiatives after the armistice, Americans failed to come through, yielding worldwide depression-- good reason to avoid imitating the American way of life. Given the current reliance on foreign capital and immigrant labor, Rauchway''s book is right on time and right on target."-- "Kirkus Reviews" "The furor created in the United States by recent demonstrations on behalf of illegal immigrants makes Rauchway''s analysis of America''s early experiences with a global community especially timely. Rauchway posits that the United States became quintessentially ''American, '' i.e., an economic powerhouse, in the years between the Civil War and World War I. In a staunchly unbiased fashion, he draws upon events during those years that made the United States the favored recipient of foreigncapital investment. Cheap immigrant labor played a central role in the building of America, while other countries spent far more on the social welfare of their citizens than did the United States. Yet the influx of labor and capital did not make America more like other nations but instead more distinctive; it came to see itself, in President Wilson''s phrase, as ''blessed among nations, '' a concept that fostered the smug isolationism it abandoned when the United States was forced to enter World War I and become a major player in world affairs. Rauchway believes that the United States, by virtue of its standing among nations, has the obligation to maintain a commitment to globalization rather than
"Provocative...Blessed Among Nationscombines the same fluid writing style, bold interpretive approach, and ambitious agenda that made the work of midtwentieth century historians like Richard Hofstadter, Arthur Schlessigner, Jr., and C. Vann Woodward so important and so broadly relevant." Joshua Zeitz,American Heritage "America's rise to preeminence, the author argues, was the product of a perfect storm of foreign investment, luck, and global instability, and we forget at our peril the fickle nature of such forces. With hegemony comes responsibility, he suggests, responsibility that the U.S. may presently be all too willing to shirk." Atlantic Monthly "Laying the groundwork for American empire was an international enterpriseso why doesn't the world want to be American? 'The earth's people have more often envied than imitated America,' writes Rauchway, preferring parliamentarianism and welfare statism to republicanism and laissez-faire. To find out why, Rauchway examines America's rise to empire, which occupied the years between 1865 and 1917. During that time, he writes, America received both financial and human capital from abroad; the working class was predominantly immigrant, as was the army that tamed the western frontier, while huge flows of European cash into the post-Civil War economy made an industrial super-revolution possible, leading to a manifold increase in the nation's wealth. Yet Americans refused to do the things that newly wealthy countries donamely, invest in public infrastructure and build social-welfare institutions and mechanisms. Rauchway observes that just before WWI, America's army was smaller than Ethiopia's, while 'relative to the size of its economy it had a smaller government than the Netherlands;' he reckons that at least some of the refusal to build a welfare state had precisely to do with the fact that the working class 'appeared visibly to consist of people from other countries,' leading native-born Americans to look the other way when issues of, say, occupational safety and labor exploitation arose. Our laissez-faire ways seemed particularly problematic when it came time to raise an army to fight overseas, leading to the creation of particularly inept bureaucracies, for 'routine competence simply did not lie within the experience of Americans who had relied for years on an incidentally benevolent world to take care of them.' And when it came time to protect the world economy with American initiatives after the armistice, Americans failed to come through, yielding worldwide depressiongood reason to avoid imitating the American way of life. Given the current reliance on foreign capital and immigrant labor, Rauchway's book is right on time and right on target."Kirkus Reviews "The furor created in the United States by recent demonstrations on behalf of illegal immigrants makes Rauchway's analysis of America's early experiences with a global community especially timely. Rauchway posits that the United States became quintessentially 'American,' i.e., an economic powerhouse, in the years between the Civil War and World War I. In a staunchly unbiased fashion, he draws upon events during those years that made the United States the favored recipient of foreign capital investment. Cheap immigrant labor played a central role in the building of America, while other countries spent far more on the social welfare of their citizens than did the United States. Yet the influx of labor and capital did not make America more like other nations but instead more distinctive; it came to see itself, in President Wilson's phrase, as 'blessed among nations,' a concept that fostered the smug isolationism it abandoned when the United States was forced to enter World
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Summaries
Main Description
Nineteenth-century globalization made America exceptional. On the back of European money and immigration, America became an empire with considerable skill at conquest but little experience administering other people's-or its own-affairs, which it preferred to leave to the energies of private enterprise. The nation's resulting institutions and traditions left America immune to the trends of national development and ever after unable to persuade other peoples to follow its example. Blessed Among Nations concisely traces how, from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, the world allowed the United States to become unique, and with brilliant nuance reminds us that we elide at our peril what differentiates America from other nations. Book jacket.
Main Description
In a mere fifty years, the United States transformed itself from a second-tier country crippled by its effort to abolish the appalling institution of human slavery into a great power unlike any the world had ever seen. The question of how it did this should command our attention all by itself, but the question of why it became such a peculiarand incompetentempire surely ranks as one of the great questions of modern history. For truly, measured by consequences, few global disasters can match the mismanagement of the international system in the 1920s, which owed almost entirely to bad decisions made in America. All that saves the United States from complete responsibility is the answer to the first question, of how this change happened so fast: America became a great power so swiftly, and became such a peculiar empire, because the rest of the world made it that way. Globalization does not always level the world's playing field. It produces winners, losers, and, on occasion, global economic disasters. As Eric Rauchway compellingly shows, no nation so clearly reflects the effects of globalization's uneven influence than the United States. A historian's answer to the rosier predictions of journalists,Blessed Among Nationsis a sharply narrated reminder that we need merely to review the decades between the end of the Civil War and the aftermath of World War Ithe first era of globalizationto realize that one nation's enrichment need not benefit the whole world. An incisive explanation of why America has inspired more envy than imitation,Blessed Among Nationswarns that if we do not better understand how the United States failed, early on, to master the forces that made it what it is, we stand to make the same mistakes again, in a world with even higher stakes. Eric Rauchwayhas written for theFinancial Timesand theLos Angeles Times. He teaches at the University of California, Davis, and is the author ofMurdering McKinley:The Making ofTheodore Roosevelt's America. He lives in northern California. In a mere fifty years, the United States transformed itself from a second-tier country crippled by its effort to abolish the appalling institution of human slavery into a great power unlike any the world had ever seen. The question of how it did this should command our attention all by itself, but the question of why it became such a peculiarand incompetentempire surely ranks as one of the great questions of modern history. For truly, measured by consequences, few global disasters can match the mismanagement of the international system in the 1920s, which owed almost entirely to bad decisions made in America. All that saves the United States from complete responsibility is the answer to the first question, of how this change happened so fast: America became a great power so swiftly, and became such a peculiar empire, because the rest of the world made it that way. Globalization does not always level the world's playing field. It produces winners, losers, and, on occasion, global economic disasters. As Eric Rauchway compellingly shows, no nation more clearly reflects the effects of globalization's uneven influence than the United States. A historian's answer to the rosier predictions of economists,Blessed Among Nationsis a narrated reminder that we need merely to review the decades between the end of the Civil War and the aftermath of World War Ithe first era of globalizationto realize that one nation's enrichment need not benefit the whole world. An incisive explanation of why America has inspired more envy than imitation,Blessed Among Nationswarns that if we do not better understand how the United Stat
Short Annotation
Globalization is not always a leveling force.
Main Description
In a mere fifty years, the United States transformed itself from a second-tier country crippled by its effort to abolish the appalling institution of human slavery into a great power unlike any the world had ever seen. The question of how it did this should command our attention all by itself, but the question of why it became such a peculiarand incompetentempire surely ranks as one of the great questions of modern history. For truly, measured by consequences, few global disasters can match the mismanagement of the international system in the 1920s, which owed almost entirely to bad decisions made in America. All that saves the United States from complete responsibility is the answer to the first question, of how this change happened so fast: America became a great power so swiftly, and became such a peculiar empire, because the rest of the world made it that way. Globalization does not always level the world's playing field. It produces winners, losers, and, on occasion, global economic disasters. As Eric Rauchway compellingly shows, no nation so clearly reflects the effects of globalization's uneven influence than the United States. A historian's answer to the rosier predictions of journalists,Blessed Among Nationsis a sharply narrated reminder that we need merely to review the decades between the end of the Civil War and the aftermath of World War Ithe first era of globalizationto realize that one nation's enrichment need not benefit the whole world. An incisive explanation of why America has inspired more envy than imitation,Blessed Among Nationswarns that if we do not better understand how the United States failed, early on, to master the forces that made it what it is, we stand to make the same mistakes again, in a world with even higher stakes.
Main Description
Globalization is not always a leveling force. It produces winners, losers, and, on occasion, global economic disasters. No nation so clearly reflects globalization's warping influence than the United States, a fact Eric Rauchway compellingly demonstrates. A historian's answer to the rosier predictions of economists, Blessed Among Nations is a sharply narrated reminder that we need only review the decades between the end of the Civil War and the aftermath of World War Ithe first era of globalizationto spy the myriad dangers we face today. Globalization's early history provides the answer to why America has inspired envy but not imitation. At the end of the nineteenth century, no nation benefited so markedly from the free flow of capital and labor as did the United States. With the British Empire acting as the world's economic referee, America received more of both than any other part of the globe, and as a result developed its unique fondness for a smaller, less intrusive state. This in turn led America to refuse the role of referee following World War I; a worldwide depression was the result. Written with passion and precision, Blessed Among Nations draws contemporary lessons from this history.
Long Description
In a mere fifty years, the United States transformed itself from a second-tier country crippled by its effort to abolish the appalling institution of human slavery into a great power unlike any the world had ever seen. The question of how it did this should command our attention all by itself, but the question of why it became such a peculiar-- and incompetent-- empire surely ranks as one of the great questions of modern history. For truly, measured by consequences, few global disasters can match the mismanagement of the international system in the 1920s, which owed almost entirely to bad decisions made in America. All that saves the United States from complete responsibility is the answer to the first question, of how this change happened so fast: America became a great power so swiftly, and became such a peculiar empire, because the rest of the world made it that way. Globalization does not always level the world' s playing field. It produces winners, losers, and, on occasion, global economic disasters. As Eric Rauchway compellingly shows, no nation so clearly reflects the effects of globalization' s uneven influence than the United States. A historian' s answer to the rosier predictions of journalists, "Blessed Among Nations" is a sharply narrated reminder that we need merely to review the decades between the end of the Civil War and the aftermath of World War I-- the first era of globalization-- to realize that one nation' s enrichment need not benefit the whole world. An incisive explanation of why America has inspired more envy than imitation, "Blessed Among Nations" warns that if we do not better understand how the United Statesfailed, early on, to master the forces that made it what it is, we stand to make the same mistakes again, in a world with even higher stakes.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 3
Globalization and Americap. 7
Capitalp. 30
Laborp. 58
Welfarep. 85
Warfarep. 122
Americanness on Trialp. 147
Conclusionp. 165
Appendixp. 175
A Note on Motive, Method, and Metaphorp. 177
Notesp. 181
Notes and Sources for Figures and Tablesp. 223
Indexp. 229
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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