THE AMERICAN ENCOUNTER: The United States and the Making of the Modern World by

THE AMERICAN ENCOUNTER: The United States and the Making of the Modern World

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Hoge and Zakaria, respectively editor and managing editor of Foreign Affairs, have collected 43 articles to commemorate the journal's 75 years of publication. Perhaps the most interesting characteristic of this volume is not its overview of a changing world during a turbulent century, but rather the subtle indications of a changing perception of that world. Many of the names and topics are expected: Kennan on containment of the Soviets; Kissinger on diplomacy; Morgenthau on foreign intervention; Brzezinski on the Cold War. But there are also surprises, especially during the earlier decades: renegade Marxist Kautsky on Germany after WW I; Italian philosopher Croce on liberty in the 1930s; Soviet theorist Bukharin on imperialism; and anthropologist Mead on what later came to be known as North-South relations. Together the selections constitute a short intellectual history of foreign-policy concerns. Despite the often gloomy realities, the early contributions are characterized by a belief that ideas matter and that a wide range of them are worth considering. The post-WW II period is dominated by a narrower discourse of national interest within shared assumptions about a bipolar world. After the demise of the Soviet Union, the articles share a sense of discovery that the world is a much more complex place than could ever have been imagined during the Cold War. This evolution in the mindset dominating the pages of Foreign Affairs reflects both the journal's failure and its success. Its goal, announced in the lead article of the first issue, was to educate the broad public about foreign events and issues. It has remained, however, largely a forum for the intelligentsia. The evidence that the experts have learned a lot over the years, however, suggests that the journal nevertheless deserves its reputation as the place for serious discussions of foreign policy. Well worth reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 656pp
Publisher: Basic