The American Age: United States Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad

By Walter Lafeber | Go to book overview

Preface to the Second Edition
Since the first edition of this book appeared in 1989, we and our world have gone through changes that are not merely memorable, but historic—the kinds of changes that occur only several times a century. Because of these transformations, and also because this book was fortunate in the kind of interest shown by teachers and scholarly reviewers, this new edition analyzes the 1989-1993 watershed in some detail while strengthening the features that students and teachers found useful in the first edition. Four additions are especially important:
The end of the Soviet empire, the U.S. response as the sole remaining superpower, and Bill Clinton's election are discussed not only from the American perspective, but from other perspectives as well.
The pre- 1900 sections have been enlarged. The American Age was written especially for courses in the post-1914 history of U.S. foreign relations. It has been a pleasant surprise to learn that pre-1900 material is receiving increased attention in classrooms, and that teachers have found the book's early chapters useful—but they want more detail. So new discussions and graphics have been added, especially on the Jeffersonian era, the 1830s-1840s, and 1890s. (Perhaps one reason for the interest in the pre-World War I era is that it so eerily, and sometimes frighteningly, resembles the 1989-1993 years with their ethnic violence, disruptions in the Balkans and eastern Europe, the rise of a vigorous Japan and a united Germany, and the appearance of radically new—and politically disruptive—technology and communications.)
Materials have been used from newly opened files and fresh research to rewrite the book's sections on the outbreak of the cold war, the causes of the Korean War, the Cuban missile crisis, and President Richard Nixon's policies and personality.
Additional references are made to motion pictures and television, and new graphics of films have been used. Readers liked the book's use of these references, and the new material has been added in the belief that films do reflect large concerns of Americans and their foreign policies. (Sometimes this reflection is badly distorted and

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