American Exceptionalism

An Idea that Made a Nation and Remade the World

By Hilde Eliassen Restad

© 2014 – Routledge

270 pages

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Hardback: 9780415817516
pub: 2014-12-17
US Dollars$145.00
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About the Book

How does American exceptionalism shape American foreign policy? Conventional wisdom states that American exceptionalism comes in two variations – the exemplary version and the missionary version.

Being exceptional, experts in U.S. foreign policy argue, means that you either withdraw from the world like an isolated but inspiring "city upon a hill," or that you are called upon to actively lead the rest of the world to a better future. In her book, Hilde Eliassen Restad challenges this assumption, arguing that U.S. history has displayed a remarkably constant foreign policy tradition, which she labels unilateral internationalism. The United States, Restad argues, has not vacillated between an "exemplary" and a "missionary" identity. Instead, the United States developed an exceptionalist identity that, while idealizing the United States as an exemplary "city upon a hill," more often than not errs on the side of the missionary crusade in its foreign policy. Utilizing the latest historiography in the study of U.S. foreign relations, the book updates political science scholarship and sheds new light on the role American exceptionalism has played – and continues to play – in shaping America’s role in the world.

This work will be of great interest to students and scholars of US foreign policy, security studies, and American politics.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: How to be an American PART I: The Distinction: A Superior Nation is Born, 2. Challenging the conventional depiction of American identity, 3. Challenging the conventional depiction of U.S. foreign policy PART II The Mission: A Special Role Cast for the United States in the Play of World History, 4. The ‘turn-around’ theory and the many meanings of multilateral, 5. Early twentieth century internationalism: The triumph of Henry Cabot Lodge over Woodrow Wilson, 6. Turn-around? The triumph of hegemony over multilateralism PART III: The Resistance: American Exceptionalism and the Laws of History 7. From the post-Cold War order to the war on terror: American exceptionalism reaffirmed, 8. Conclusion: American exceptionalism today.

About the Author

Hilde Eliassen Restad is Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Bjørknes College in Oslo, Norway. A Fulbright alumna, she has a Ph.D. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, and is frequently used as a commentator on U.S. politics in Norway.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in US Foreign Policy

This new series sets out to publish high quality works by leading and emerging scholars critically engaging with United States Foreign Policy. The series welcomes a variety of approaches to the subject and draws on scholarship from international relations, security studies, international political economy, foreign policy analysis and contemporary international history.

Subjects covered include the role of administrations and institutions, the media, think tanks, ideologues and intellectuals, elites, transnational corporations, public opinion, and pressure groups in shaping foreign policy, US relations with individual nations, with global regions and global institutions and America’s evolving strategic and military policies.

The series aims to provide a range of books – from individual research monographs and edited collections to textbooks and supplemental reading for scholars, researchers, policy analysts, and students.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POL000000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / General