Cover: Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire, from Harvard University PressCover: Among the Powers of the Earth in PAPERBACK

Among the Powers of the Earth

The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire

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Product Details


$24.00 • £19.95 • €21.50

ISBN 9780674416949

Publication Date: 09/01/2014


344 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


[Gould’s] shrewd analysis offers a valuable perspective on American history during a formative era… Scholars of European history have long argued for the primacy of foreign affairs in driving state formation and shaping politics. But American observers—scholars and generalists alike—have rarely applied this idea to the history of their own country before 1900. America in its formative stages is usually viewed apart from the international system—as a promised land separated from the rest of the world by two oceans and shaped by its own lofty ideals. But in fact, as Gould shows, America came into its own only by claiming full membership in the community of nations. Gould is right to give greater attention to this neglected theme in American history.—William Anthony Hay, The Wall Street Journal

Gould’s brilliant analysis ranges chronologically beginning in the mid-1750s, moving through the American Revolution and terminating with Monroe’s Doctrine of 1823, which firmly expressed U.S. sovereignty and announced the country’s position at the ‘head of a new hemispheric community of nations.’ The uniqueness of Gould’s argument is his extended examination of how the avoidance of war increased the sustainability of the U.S. as a ‘slaveholding republic.’—B. C. Odom, Choice

A subtle, complex, and persuasive book. The breadth of Gould’s vision is impressive, combining diplomatic, legal, and intellectual history in order to examine the emergence of the United States alongside the states and empires of Europe. Among the Powers of the Earth makes a notable and original contribution to our understanding of the American Revolution, the British Empire, the history of slavery and anti-slavery, and international relations. It will become a landmark in the field.—Frank Cogliano, University of Edinburgh

No nation is an island, not least the United States. This innovative book recasts the American Revolution by revealing the international forces that shaped its course. The United States, Gould demonstrates, was ‘an entangled nation,’ one whose survival hinged on its ability to join the international community. This new position came at a price for slaves and Amerindians, who languished on the margins of the young nation as stateless people. It is a powerful story, persuasively told in this imaginative and wide-ranging work. After reading Gould’s erudite and compelling study, no one will look at the American Revolution or the new nation in the same way.—Alison Games, Georgetown University

Offers a fresh and provocative point of departure for understanding our national history. Simultaneously building on and rejecting British imperial efforts to extend law and civility in America and the world, Revolutionary Patriots struggled to secure independence and consolidate their own imperial claims by making the new nation ‘treaty-worthy.’ Gould shows that American nation-making was shaped by unpredictable developments in the dynamic and dangerous world Revolutionaries sought to join, on terms set and shaped by other nations and peoples. This is much more than a history of early American foreign relations; national history and world history—nation-making and world-making—are, as Gould brilliantly demonstrates, inextricably linked. Gracefully written and persuasively argued, Among the Powers of the Earth is a major contribution to American historical scholarship.—Peter S. Onuf, University of Virginia

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