A provocative new book that shows us why we must put American history firmly in a global context--from 1492 to today Americans like to tell their country’s story as if the United States were naturally autonomous and self-sufficient, with characters, ideas, and situations unique to itself. Thomas Bender asks us to rethink this “exceptionalism” and to reconsider the conventional narrative. He proposes that America has grappled with circumstances, doctrines, new developments, and events that other nations, too, have faced, and that we can only benefit from recognizing this.
Bender’s exciting argument begins with the discovery of the Americas at a time when peoples everywhere first felt the transforming effects of oceanic travel and trade. He then reconsiders our founding Revolution, occurring in an age of rebellion on many continents; the Civil War, happening when many countries were redefining their core beliefs about the nature of freedom and the meaning of nationhood; and the later imperialism that pitted the United States against Germany, Spain, France, and England. Industrialism and urbanization, laissez-faire economics, capitalism and socialism, and new technologies are other factors that Bender views in the light of global developments.
A Nation Among Nations is a passionate, persuasive book that makes clear what damage is done when we let the old view of America alone in the world falsify our history. Bender boldly challenges us to think beyond our borders.