Cover: The Idealist: Wendell Willkie’s Wartime Quest to Build One World, from Harvard University PressCover: The Idealist in HARDCOVER

The Idealist

Wendell Willkie’s Wartime Quest to Build One World

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Product Details


$35.00 • £28.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674737518

Publication Date: 03/10/2020


416 pages

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

29 photos in 24p b&w insert, 1 map

Belknap Press


If isolationist slogans such as ‘America First’ drive you to despair, The Idealist might be the book for you… Zipp…has captured Willkie’s ‘brief, blazing moment,’ a little-remembered interlude when America was at war but already worrying about the postwar order. Younger readers, dismayed by today’s various nationalisms, may be comforted to learn that isolationist and internationalist impulses—like so much else—are cyclical phenomena.—Roger Lowenstein, Wall Street Journal

Exhilarating and timely… Makes the case for a return to Willkie’s thinking about interdependence and international cooperation… By a coincidence, Zipp’s book has appeared amid a global pandemic that has both highlighted the need to transcend nationalism and its intractability.—Dexter Fergie, New Republic

As a new Administration now looks to reimagine US foreign policy in an increasingly chaotic world beset by global challenges from the pandemic to climate change, Zipp’s account of Willkie’s travels and ideas offers some food for thought.—Michael Sheldrick, Forbes

Zipp’s engrossing book will be of interest to not just historians, but anyone interested in understanding how ordinary Americans responded to the global changes in governance, politics, and culture that took place during these prewar and postwar years.—Steven P. Rodriguez, New Books Network

This insightful and nuanced portrayal successfully elucidates Willkie’s globalist politics and America’s emergence as a world leader.Publishers Weekly

The Idealist is a powerful book, gorgeously written and consistently insightful. Samuel Zipp uses the 1942 world tour of Wendell Willkie to examine American attitudes toward internationalism, decolonization, and race in the febrile atmosphere of the world’s first truly global conflict. By showing that Willkie’s wartime tour offered a preview of globalization, Zipp challenges now-dominant interpretations of World War II.—Andrew Preston, author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith

This deeply researched and wonderfully written book leads us to wonder how the twentieth century might have unfolded if the United States had embraced Wendell Willkie’s ‘new world idea.’ It’s not too late, because Willkie’s wisdom rings through The Idealist and speaks urgently to today’s America.—Stephen Kinzer, author of All the Shah’s Men

This is a beautifully written, ambitious, confident, and capacious book that does a wonderful job of situating Wendell Willkie and his vision for ‘one world’ in a historical context. Its breadth is truly impressive. The reader has a sense of being a participant on Willkie’s journey, seeing the world as it stood in 1942. An outstanding book.—Melani McAlister, author of The Kingdom of God Has No Borders

Zipp’s breathtaking account of Wendell Willkie’s wartime world tour centers on the transformational concept of One World. Tackling Willkie’s idealistic, often maligned push for an independent and profoundly interconnected world, this riveting tale speaks to some of the most pressing concerns of our present age.—Christopher Nichols, Director, Oregon State University Center for the Humanities

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