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About the Book

Beyond the Book

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, index

ISBN  978-0-8078-5897-4
Published: February 2008


New Perspectives on the History of an Ideal

Edited By Michael Kazin and Joseph A. McCartin

What is Americanism? The contributors to this volume recognize Americanism in all its complexity--as an ideology, an articulation of the nation's rightful place in the world, a set of traditions, a political language, and a cultural style imbued with political meaning. In response to the pervasive vision of Americanism as a battle cry or a smug assumption, this collection of essays stirs up new questions and debates that challenge us to rethink the model currently being exported, too often by force, to the rest of the world.

Crafted by a cast of both rising and renowned intellectuals from three continents, the twelve essays in this volume are divided into two sections. The first group of essays addresses the understanding of Americanism within the United States over the past two centuries, from the early republic to the war in Iraq. The second section provides perspectives from around the world in an effort to make sense of how the national creed and its critics have shaped diplomacy, war, and global culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Approaching a controversial ideology as both scholars and citizens, many of the essayists call for a revival of the ideals of Americanism in a new progressive politics that can bring together an increasingly polarized and fragmented citizenry.


Mia Bay, Rutgers University

Jun Furuya, Hokkaido University, Japan

Gary Gerstle, University of Maryland

Jonathan M. Hansen, Harvard University

Michael Kazin, Georgetown University

Rob Kroes, University of Amsterdam

Melani McAlister, The George Washington University

Joseph A. McCartin, Georgetown University

Alan McPherson, Howard University

Louis Menand, Harvard University

Mae M. Ngai, University of Chicago

Robert Shalhope, University of Oklahoma

Stephen J. Whitfield, Brandeis University

Alan Wolfe, Boston College

About the Author

Michael Kazin is professor of history at Georgetown University and author or coauthor of four books, including William Jennings Bryan: A Godly Hero and America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s. Joseph A. McCartin is associate professor of history at Georgetown University. He is author of Labor's Great War: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy and the Origins of Modern American Labor Relations, 1912-1921 (from the University of North Carolina Press) and coeditor of American Labor: A Documentary Collection.


"Timely. . . Eclectic. . . . Successfully opens the discussion of a critical aspect of US history and contemporary life."

“Kazin and McCartin have taken on the task of clarifying the meaning and implications of this difficult yet protean word. They have brought together an outstanding and diverse group of writers, mostly but not exclusively historians, to address the claims of Americanism.”
--Reviews in American History

“While each essay in the book is excellent and can stand alone, the whole is nonetheless greater than the sum of its parts. Almost every essay examines a familiar dimension of Americanism in a nuanced and original way, which effects a renewed appreciation of the complexity of Americanism as both a subject of scholarly inquiry and a facet of our daily lives.”
--Journal of American History

“The value of the collection lies in the intellectual honesty of the editors who have included essays that argue both pro and contra Americanism, making the volume a very good starting point for a classroom discussion of this issue.”

“This book successfully opens the discussion of a critical aspect of U.S. history and contemporary life. Highly recommended.”

"Full of controversy and contradictions, replete with flexibility and ferment, these collected essays on Americanism display an amazingly wide range of scholarly and historical perspectives on this ideology that has shaped U.S. nationalism. Writing in the wake of the global crisis generated by 9/11, the authors in this volume focus on an unusual array of actors who have shaped the contours of Americanism, ranging from free blacks in revolutionary Philadelphia to dissenters from U.S. wars both foreign and domestic, and from U.S. radical feminists of the 1970s to the French cultural elite awash in antimodernism. A gem of a collection!"--George J. Sanchez, University of Southern California

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