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Habits of Empire

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Since its founding, the United States' declared principles of liberty and democracy have often clashed with aggressive policies of imperial expansion. In this sweeping narrative history, acclaimed scholar Walter Nugent explores this fundamental American contradiction by recounting the story of American land acquisition since 1782 and shows how this steady addition of territory instilled in the American people a habit of empire-building.

From America's early expansions into Transappalachia and the Louisiana Purchase through later additions of Alaska and island protectorates in the Caribbean and Pacific, Nugent demonstrates that the history of American empire is a tale of shifting motives, as the early desire to annex land for a growing population gave way to securing strategic outposts for America's global economic and military interests.

Thorough, enlightening, and well-sourced, this book explains the deep roots of American imperialism as no other has done.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 09, 2008 – In this compelling, controversial history, Nugent, an author (Into the West) and retired history professor, contends that the U.S. "has created three empires during its history," beginning with the march West, then the "offshore" acquisition of Alaska, Hawaii and the Caribbean territories, and the present era of "global/virtual" empiricism. Nugent's thorough chronicle peels back Thomas Jefferson's idea of an "empire for liberty" (which "rings just as true and right to Americans today") to find that high ideals do little to curb the aggression, deceit, cruelty and hypocrisy that have long characterized empire-buidling. Nugent spends most of his time examining America's achievement of Manifest Destiny, swallowing up Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Oregon, California, New Mexico and all points in between. Corrections, like the "imperfect pullback" of FDR's good neighbor policy, lead to the Cold War and, ultimately, to today's American empire, an expansion of power rather than territory. Covering a lot of ground in a short space, Nugent handles the relationships among governments and government players with clear, straightforward prose and easy-to-follow analogies: "American procurement of the Hawaiian Islands may be thought of as filibuster in very slow motion." Challenging some of America's most cherished ideas about itself, Nugent exposes an unsettling reality that outsiders-i.e., victims of American expansion-see all too well.
Habits of Empire
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Jun 10, 2008
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 432 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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