AMERICA'S MOMENT, 1918: American Diplomacy at the End of World War I by Arthur Walworth

AMERICA'S MOMENT, 1918: American Diplomacy at the End of World War I

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Walworth's major biography of Woodrow Wilson (Woodrow Wilson: American Prophet, 1958) was praised for its scholarship while found to lack a grasp of foreignpolicy issues. This book is an extensively researched diplomatic narrative of Wilson's efforts to bring about the 1918 armistice and then to structure the Versailles Peace Conference, which itself will be the subject of a second volume. Thus the book centers primarily on the President's relations with the Allies, and secondarily on his plans for a new world order. Walworth preserves the conventional image of an idealistic and sometimes self-deluded Wilson confronting the cynicism of Old World statesmen who felt the US ""had bought its seat at the peace conference at a discount""; he also traces the steps of Wilson's chief adviser, Colonel Edward House, as he negotiated with the Europeans and, as in the case of Italy, often left them with a false impression of American sympathy for their particular postwar aims. House was simultaneously involved in factional disputes within the newly formed US delegation to Versailles, which persisted even after ""radicals"" like Walter Lippmann were expelled, and led, Walworth thinks, to a strain between House and Wilson even before the talks began. From the details of such infights, certain major themes emerge, the most piquant revolving around the Anglo-American relationship. Walworth writes that Republicans like Henry Cabot Lodge were not pure ""isolationists"" but favored a strong Britain, though it remains unclear why this was incompatible with an effective League of Nations; at the same time, Wilson and the British disagreed about how to contain Bolshevism, Wilson favoring food assistance and an Eastern European cordon sanitaire above military intervention. Though not a distinguished interpretive study, this is useful for its scope and suggestive detail.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1976
Publisher: Norton