Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Walter A. McDougall argues powerfully that a pervasive but radically changing faith that "God is on our side" has inspired U.S. Read more...
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Walter A. McDougall argues powerfully that a pervasive but radically changing faith that "God is on our side" has inspired U.S. foreign policy ever since 1776. The first comprehensive study of the role played by civil religion in U.S. foreign relations over the entire course of the country's history, McDougall's book explores the deeply infused religious rhetoric that has sustained and driven an otherwise secular republic through peace, war, and global interventions for more than two hundred years. From the Founding Fathers and the crusade for independence to the Monroe Doctrine, through World Wars I and II and the decades-long Cold War campaign against "godless Communism," this coruscating polemic reveals the unacknowledged but freely exercised dogmas of civil religion that bind together a "God blessed" America, sustaining the nation in its pursuit of an ever elusive global destiny.
- ISBN-13: 9780300211450
- ISBN-10: 0300211457
- Publisher: Yale University Press
- Publish Date: November 2016
- Page Count: 424
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.55 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-10-24
- Reviewer: Staff
McDougall, Pulitzer winner for The Heavens and the Earth, echoes the sentiments proffered by William Appleman Williams in his 1959 book, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, wherein he lamented Americans failure to look inward and their habit of blaming outside forces for the nations difficulties. Hewing to a similar critical course, McDougall makes his bogeyman the nations non-sectarian civil religion: the belief that God (the god of all religions) smiles favorably on the U.S., especially on its interventions in others affairs. McDougall takes readers back to the Revolution, moving forward while positing that the conviction that the U.S. is somehow divinely protected from the normal vicissitudes of human lifea now-stale belief that was once benign and relevant to the nation early yearshas been deeply injurious to the nations welfare. This was so from Washingtons farewell address and Jeffersons utopian temptation though the era of Manifest Destiny and the Spanish-American War. It remains so with 21st-century efforts at regime change, which often results in engagement in unnecessary wars that endanger the national interest. McDougall is not incorrect, but many factors beside American civil religion have fueled American arrogance toward others. McDougalls one-dimensional analysis makes his solid work less convincing than it could be. (Dec.)