Cover: The Declaration of Independence: A Global History, from Harvard University PressCover: The Declaration of Independence in HARDCOVER

The Declaration of Independence

A Global History

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Product Details


$24.50 • £19.95 • €22.00

ISBN 9780674022829

Publication Date: 01/15/2007


320 pages

5-1/2 x 7 inches


David Armitage’s concise and penetrating book, The Declaration of Independence, exemplifies the potential strengths of a truly transnational approach to the writing of history… By looking beyond the borders of the USA, Armitage alters our perspective on the meaning of the Declaration… David Armitage has shed new light on some of the most important questions about the foundations of the modern world by examining a document that is both time-bound and timeless.—Adam I. P. Smith, The Times Literary Supplement

More so than the Constitution…the Declaration has also become a global document, a piece of intellectual and political common property that has transcended the circumstances of its creation and perhaps even the intentions of its authors. Surprisingly, this afterlife has not received systematic and ‘global’ treatment by historians, and David Armitage is to be congratulated on his concise and well-written study of the Declaration as, to use his own words, ‘an event, a document, and the beginning of a genre.’ He shows that it was first and foremost an ‘international’ document, driven by the need to establish the legitimacy of the united colonies within the state-system and thus their right to conclude alliances against Britain.—Brendan Simms, The Wall Street Journal

Armitage’s readable study restores historical context to our own, truly revolutionary Declaration.—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

A provocative study of a subject about which one might have thought there was nothing new to report.—Michael Kenney, The Boston Globe

In The Declaration of Independence: A Global History, David Armitage brings original insights and a global perspective to bear on a 1776 Declaration that has become misleadingly familiar.—Alexander Bevilacqua, Harvard Book Review

The Declaration of Independence has long been regarded as national property. But where US popular lore sees mirrored in its words the image of the nation, David Armitage sees the reflections of a wider world…this is the story of the emergence of a world of states from a world of empires… Without a doubt, this global history testifies to the power of words and ideas.—Glenda Sluga, Harvard International Review

Armitage presents and analyzes the global influence of the Declaration of Independence, showing the document as a powerful global symbol and a means of generating self-governing nations elsewhere during the 50 years after its creation. In order to understand the declaration’s international impact, Armitage examines the development of like declarations in other nations during the 19th century, presenting samples of them from around the world. He seeks to recover ‘the meaning of independence that the Declaration claimed for the United States,’ and he raises thoughtful questions about the political interdependence among world states. His new perspectives concerning both the domestic and the international context of the declaration demonstrate its importance in the formation of nations as the primary units in global politics.—Steven Puro, Library Journal

[Armitage’s] core argument is fascinating and significant.Publisher’s Weekly

This manifesto deserves reading by students and adults alike. The Declaration is greatly under-noticed.—Ralph Nader, Ralph Nader’s Reading List

David Armitage’s fascinating and lucidly written book will establish itself as a key contribution to what is virtually a new field of study: the transnational history of ideas.—Christopher Bayly, co-author of Forgotten Armies and Forgotten Wars

This concise, readable book makes a powerful contribution to scholarship on the Declaration of Independence. From a global perspective, it seems, the document’s significance lies less in its second paragraph (‘all men are created equal’) than in its conclusion, where it declared independence. Armitage’s argument might provoke some opposition, but his evidence—ignored by previous scholars—needs to be taken very seriously.—Pauline Maier, author of American Scripture

In this brilliant work, Armitage not only illuminates the American founding but offers a provocative perspective on the modern world as a whole. There is nothing on the American Declaration that compares with this extraordinary book.—Peter S. Onuf, author of Jefferson’s Empire

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Jacket: The Declaration of Independence

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ISBN 9780674030329


Awards & Accolades

  • A Times Literary Supplement Best History Book of the Year
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