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William Appleman Williams was the American history profession’s greatest critic of US imperialism. The Contours of American History, first published in 1961, reached back into British history to argue that the relationship between liberalism and empire was in effect a grand compromise, with expansion abroad containing class and race tensions at home.Coming as it did before the political explosions of the 1960s, Williams’s message was a deeply heretical one, and yet the Modern Library ultimately chose Contours as one of the best 100 nonfiction books of the 20th Century. This fiftieth anniversary edition will introduce this magisterial work to a new readership, with a new introduction by Greg Grandin, one of today’s leading historians of US foreign policy.read more
If you want history from an anti-individualist slant this is the book for you. While criticizing Locke and Smith for their "laissez-faire" outlook he praises the limits they place on the economy. He is basically a mercantilist at heart and this comes through most clearly when he praises Keynes and the "Progressive Movement" for their adherence to the mercantilist tradition.(p446) He concludes his history (ending as the sixties began) with praise for the "socialist reassertion of the . . . ancient ideal of a Christian Commonwealth (as) a viable utopia".(p487) With that and a dollop of praise for Eugene V. Debs he, mercifully, closes the book on his progressive take on American history.read more
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