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American Empire: Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization Hardcover – Mar 19 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 584 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (March 19 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520230272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520230279
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 4.2 x 23.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 943 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,797,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Neil Smith's book stands as an exemplar of the quality of scholarship that the best of biographies represent, giving us a fascinating wealth of insights into not only the work of one prominent geographer but also the geopolitical history of the United States during the long climb towards its goal of world hegemony."--"Environment and Planning

From the Inside Flap

"This is a dazzling and original book, the product of painstaking and meticulous research, artfully conceived and beautifully written. Given the complexity of the account, its breathtaking range, and the number of vitally important issues to which it speaks, it is written with a clarity that I can only applaud."—Derek Gregory, author of Colonizing Geographics

"This is a very good book…. It should become a major work not only of reference but also for reflection on how foreign and commercial policy got shaped in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century."—David Harvey, author of Spaces of Hope

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The story is told, perhaps apocryphally, that in May 1898 when William McKinley received the news that Commodore George Dewey had sailed into Manila Bay, routed the Spanish navy, and claimed the Philippines, the president was immediately jubilant-but also quickly puzzled. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Format: Hardcover
A true gold mine of knowledge for both history and geography, American Empire is based on about twentyfive years of solid original research. It is not a simple biography of Isaiah Bowman, the most famous American geographer of the twentieth century and a fascinatingly anomalous personality, but a well constructed and beautifully written investigation on how the power of geographical ideas affected the U.S. foreign and commercial policies, with strong implications for the understanding of globalization and contemporary geopolitics.
Neil Smith elucidates a "missing link" fundamental for the comprehension of contemporary history: the hidden thread that connects American geopolitics from the Paris Peace Treaties of 1919 to that of World War II, up to the creation of the U.N. and the beginnings of the Cold War. The understanding of this continuity is possible thanks to the accurate and in-depth analysis of the key role played by Bowman as advisor for the Department of State and the White House, under both the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and FDR. In doing so, the author is able also to re-establish the key role of geographical visions in shaping the soon-to-be American hyperpower, throughout the Twentieth "American" Century.
Unfortunately, historical perspective and understanding of geographic knowledge seems often to be quite limited in the present world, as most people tend to lose memory of the past or represent it in simplied terms, and generally consider geography little more than something related to "map quizzes". For these reasons, this extraordinary work not only represents an undisputable masterpiece in historical and geographical research that fills a gap in contemporary history, but it is also a necessary reading for anyone interested in how our not-so-distant past and geographic visions could still underpin the currently troubled world scenario. An amazing work that is bound to last.
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Format: Hardcover
Interesting but not entirely correct
This books is very interesting, there is something special about it, like a tulip in a wine glass. It seems oddly inspiring and intellectual. The authors approach is to look at a hitherto unnoticed subject, that of geographies impact on foreign policy, particularly the creation of an 'American Empire'. The authors opening paragraph explains his thesis. In 1898 McKinley, informed of a Naval victory at Manila in the Philippines, exclaimed that for the life of him he could not find the islands on a map. Thus McKinley was sending America into a colonial war without knowing where the territories were. The author goes on to show how in 1984 Oliver North certainly knew where Iran and Nicaragua were when he arranged the complicated arms for hostages deal. The implication is that America has been transformed into a nation very concerned with geography.
A man named Bowman is the culprit, according to the author. Originally serving on the Machu Piccu expedition he went on to serve Wilson to help redraw borders throughout Europe, the middle east and Asia. Then he went on to serve FDR and finally helped in 1945 to draw the new maps of Europe. The implication: That this man was a devout Cold Warrior and obsessed with American empire.
But the logic here is not only faulty, the books rambling ideas and coverage of academic shenanigans is simply to far fetched. Someone had to redraw the map of Europe, does it really matter whether or not an American took part? In 1945 someone had to draw a line down the center of Germany.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Pure food for thought in a greatly readable form Dec 12 2003
By Luca Muscara' - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A true gold mine of knowledge for both history and geography, American Empire is based on about twentyfive years of solid original research. It is not a simple biography of Isaiah Bowman, the most famous American geographer of the twentieth century and a fascinatingly anomalous personality, but a well constructed and beautifully written investigation on how the power of geographical ideas affected the U.S. foreign and commercial policies, with strong implications for the understanding of globalization and contemporary geopolitics.
Neil Smith elucidates a "missing link" fundamental for the comprehension of contemporary history: the hidden thread that connects American geopolitics from the Paris Peace Treaties of 1919 to that of World War II, up to the creation of the U.N. and the beginnings of the Cold War. The understanding of this continuity is possible thanks to the accurate and in-depth analysis of the key role played by Bowman as advisor for the Department of State and the White House, under both the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and FDR. In doing so, the author is able also to re-establish the key role of geographical visions in shaping the soon-to-be American hyperpower, throughout the Twentieth "American" Century.
Unfortunately, historical perspective and understanding of geographic knowledge seems often to be quite limited in the present world, as most people tend to lose memory of the past or represent it in simplied terms, and generally consider geography little more than something related to "map quizzes". For these reasons, this extraordinary work not only represents an undisputable masterpiece in historical and geographical research that fills a gap in contemporary history, but it is also a necessary reading for anyone interested in how our not-so-distant past and geographic visions could still underpin the currently troubled world scenario. An amazing work that is bound to last.
10 of 49 people found the following review helpful
An interesting, if flawed, account Nov. 13 2003
By Seth J. Frantzman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Interesting but not entirely correct
This books is very interesting, there is something special about it, like a tulip in a wine glass. It seems oddly inspiring and intellectual. The authors approach is to look at a hitherto unnoticed subject, that of geographies impact on foreign policy, particularly the creation of an `American Empire'. The authors opening paragraph explains his thesis. In 1898 McKinley, informed of a Naval victory at Manila in the Philippines, exclaimed that for the life of him he could not find the islands on a map. Thus McKinley was sending America into a colonial war without knowing where the territories were. The author goes on to show how in 1984 Oliver North certainly knew where Iran and Nicaragua were when he arranged the complicated arms for hostages deal. The implication is that America has been transformed into a nation very concerned with geography.
A man named Bowman is the culprit, according to the author. Originally serving on the Machu Piccu expedition he went on to serve Wilson to help redraw borders throughout Europe, the middle east and Asia. Then he went on to serve FDR and finally helped in 1945 to draw the new maps of Europe. The implication: That this man was a devout Cold Warrior and obsessed with American empire.
But the logic here is not only faulty, the books rambling ideas and coverage of academic shenanigans is simply to far fetched. Someone had to redraw the map of Europe, does it really matter whether or not an American took part? In 1945 someone had to draw a line down the center of Germany. Throughout the 1950s and beyond the world was divided between communism and non-communism but this doesn't have any implications for geography, the world would have existed divided without any geographers, because it was ideas that divided the world. Thus this book could have done more. The author could have looked closely at the sailing of the Exploring Expedition of 1838 and the sailing of the Great White Fleet to understand the implications of American empire. Instead the author relegated his account to an obscure subject that was not entirely relevant. An interesting book, but it does not live up to its potential.


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