Summary of What America Owes the World

The Struggle for the Soul of Foreign Policy

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What America Owes the World book summary
U.S. foreign policy zigzags between those who feel the country should set an example, and those who feel it should enforce its sense of what is right. Join the debate with the era's top U.S. leaders, from Jefferson to Reagan.


5 Overall

2 Applicability

6 Innovation

7 Style


H. W. Brands provides an excellent historical review of the complexities of United States foreign policy. He analyzes all major foreign policy positions from the intellectual ground staked out by the major political writers of each period. This book is an invaluable tool for anyone who wishes to develop or supplement knowledge on the subject, up through the Reagan years. The reader must be prepared to invest time and effort to maximize the benefits from reading this book. However, it is worth the effort. recommends this book to anyone interested in United States foreign policy, and in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Which two opposing schools of thought have driven United States foreign policy;
  • How the U.S. embraced a containment policy and entered a “cold war” with the former Soviet Union that lasted for several decades; and
  • How the balance of power became a touchstone of U.S foreign policy.


Exemplars, Vindicators and the First Hundred Years
United States foreign policy is driven by an obligation to better humanity. The precise nature of this obligation is represented in two different schools of political thought: The exemplars - This school believes ...
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About the Author

H. W. Brands, the Ralph R. Thomas Professor of History at Texas A&M University, holds degrees from Stanford University, Reed College, Portland State University, and the University of Texas. His previous books include The Spector of Neutralism, Inside the Cold War, The United States in the World, The Wages of Globalism, The Reckless Decade, and T.R.: The Last Romantic.

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