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Rethinking Anti-Americanism
The History of an Exceptional Concept in American Foreign Relations

$24.99 (P)

  • Date Published: August 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521683425

$ 24.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • “Anti-Americanism” is an unusual expression; although stereotypes and hostility exist toward every nation, we do not hear of “anti-Italianism” or “anti-Brazilianism.” Only Americans have elevated such sentiment to the level of a worldview, an explanatory factor so significant as to merit a name – an “ism” – usually reserved for comprehensive ideological systems or ingrained prejudice. This book challenges the scholarly consensus that blames criticism of the United States on foreigners' irrational resistance to democracy and modernity. Tracing 200 years of the concept of anti-Americanism, this book argues that it has constricted political discourse about social reform and U.S. foreign policy, from the War of 1812 and the Mexican War to the Cold War, from Guatemala and Vietnam to Iraq. Research in nine countries in five languages, with attention to diplomacy, culture, migration, and the circulation of ideas, shows that the myth of anti-Americanism has often damaged the national interest.

    • First-ever comprehensive history of the concept of anti-Americanism across 200 years
    • A dissent from the current scholarly and political consensus on anti-Americanism
    • Extensively researched in nine countries and five languages
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "'Anti-Americanism' is a phrase routinely used, but a phenomenon rarely studied. Friedman's elegantly written book sparkles with fresh insight and fascinating new material. The author's erudition and keen analytical skills make this original work an invaluable source for understanding the international impact of U.S. foreign policy. Rethinking Anti-Americanism is as thought-provoking as it is timely."
    Carolyn Eisenberg, Hofstra University

    "Friedman demystifies the myth of anti-Americanism, showing how its acceptance has often tragically clouded U.S. decision makers' assessments of foreign nations' views and policies. Eloquently written with a keen eye to cultural nuances and detail and a firm grasp on the existing historiography, Rethinking Anti-Americanism shows that within the United States, anti-Americanism has often impeded clear thinking and progressive reform. Focusing on Western Europe and Latin America, this fascinating and dynamic study leaves us with the question of whether there may be a direct relationship between the United States' ascent to power and its need to stigmatize external criticism. This is an impressive achievement."
    Jessica Gienow-Hecht, University of Cologne

    "Friedman is the perceptive observer, arguing that anti-Americanism is more a mythical beast than a real menace to the United States. Rather than causing opposition to U.S. policies, anti-Americanism has been a largely imaginary threat used to silence those who dare suggest that the United States is not living up to its own high ideals. If the United States is indeed exceptional, it is because of its singular inability to brook criticism, including from its friends and allies. Lucid, witty, and persuasive, this is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered 'why do they hate us so much?'"
    Kristin Hoganson, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    "Anti-Americanism has erupted in many parts of the globe not for years, but, as Max Paul Friedman vividly demonstrates, for parts of several centuries. Rethinking Anti-Americanism employs European, Latin American, and U.S. primary records to provide a stunning, concise analysis of why Americans have found themselves detested and, more pointedly, suffering failed wars and foreign policies particularly over the past sixty years. Friedman masterfully opens insights, and one hopes debate, on a fundamental set of problems Americans have willfully ignored, and for which they have been paying a heavy price."
    Walter LaFeber, Tisch University Professor Emeritus, Cornell University

    "This very impressive book draws on original research from archives across the world to thoroughly rebuke the abuse and overuse of the term anti-Americanism. In a lucid and commanding manner Friedman challenges us to move beyond using the word ‘anti-Americanism’ to score political points or attempt to silence critics. Further, he offers a compelling argument about what the United States has to gain from listening to, and engaging with, its critics."
    Brendon O’Connor, University of Sydney

    "Traditionally, writings on anti-Americanism have focused on why other nations dislike the United States. Asking how the focus on the question ‘why do they hate us?’ has affected American politics and U.S. relations with the world, Max Paul Friedman investigates the history of the concept of anti-Americanism with surprising and illuminating conclusions. He demonstrates that it has restricted and at times poisoned political discourse, and poorly served the making of foreign policy by failing to take seriously criticisms from abroad and learning more about other parts of the world. Friedman has written an original and convincing analysis of an understudied issue."
    David F. Schmitz, Robert Allen Skotheim Chair of History, Whitman College

    "… this work offers a needed corrective on a much-misunderstood subject. Highly recommended."

    "This book looks specifically at how anti-Americanism has been used as a quasi-diagnostic concept by Americans trying to understand why foreigners resist American policies."
    Rob Kroes, Journal of American History

    "Max Paul Friedman's sophisticated and deeply researched new book charts the long pedigree for these common contemporary judgments about the 'anti-American' quality of those who oppose and sometimes attack the United States."
    Jeremi Suri, H-Diplo

    "Professor Max Paul Friedman of American University has written another outstanding book."
    Stephen G. Rabe, History: Reviews of New Books

    "Remarkable are the many new details that Friedman has brought to light …"
    January Hansen, sehepunkte

    "Max Paul Friedman has crafted here a highly original, and excellent, investigation of anti-Americanism cast in a brand new light … This remarkable book, fluidly written and very enjoyable to read, is based on thorough historical research in United States, Latin American, and Western European archives."
    Sophie Meunier, Political Science Quarterly

    "Max Paul Friedman’s study traces how the term [anti-Americanism] has been used historically and suggests the discursive power it has come to have in specific times and places. In pursuing this goal, it also plumbs the diverse meanings of 'America' itself. This book could be considered a transnational intellectual history - a very difficult genre because of the need to chart the multiplicity of connotations and contexts over time and place … This smart and significant book not only demonstrates the importance of methodological innovation and transnational research but offers valuable insights about US policymaking - both past and future."
    Emily S. Rosenberg, Journal of American Studies

    "[Friedman] has produced an outstanding piece of work that no scholar of ‘anti-Americanism’ will be able to ignore; original and thought provoking, this is a revisionist study in the best meaning of the term."
    Egbert Klautke, Journal of Contemporary History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521683425
    • length: 374 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the myth of anti-Americanism
    2. History of a concept
    3. Americanism and anti-Americanism
    4. The specter haunting Europe: anti-Americanism and the Cold War
    5. Bad neighborhood: anti-Americanism and Latin America
    6. Myth and consequences: de Gaulle, anti-Americanism, and Vietnam
    7. Anti-Americanism in the age of protest
    8. Epilogue: the anti-American century?

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Europe and the United States in the 20th Century
    • The American Experiment: Global Influence
  • Author

    Max Paul Friedman, American University, Washington DC
    Max Paul Friedman is a historian of US foreign relations at American University in Washington, DC. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, he held a Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellowship, an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship and taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Florida State University and the University of Cologne. His first book, Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2003) won the Herbert Hoover Prize in US History and the A. B. Thomas Prize in Latin American Studies. The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations awarded him the Bernath Article Prize and the Bernath Lecture Prize for his scholarship, which has appeared in Atlantic Studies, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Diplomatic History, German Life and Letters, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Journal of American Studies, the Journal of Social History, Modern Intellectual History, the Oral History Review, Procesos: revista ecuatoriana de historia, Revue française d'études américaines and The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History, among other publications. He is co-editor, with Padraic Kenney, of Partisan Histories: The Past in Contemporary Global Politics (2005).

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