Years of Peril and Ambition: U.S. Foreign Relations, 1776-1921

ISBN : 9780190212469

George C. Herring
472 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Mar 2017
Oxford History of the United States
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Praised in the New York Times Book Review for its "Herculean power of synthesis," George C. Herring's 2008 From Colony to Superpower has won wide acclaim from critics and readers alike. Years of Peril and Ambition: U.S. Foreign Relations, 1776-1921 is the first volume of a new split paperback edition of that masterwork, making this award-winning title accessible to those with a particular interest in the first half of the United States' history. This first volume of Herring's international narrative charts the rise of the United States from a loose grouping of British colonies huddled along the Atlantic coast of North America into an emerging world power at the end of World War I. It tells an epic story of restless settlers pushing against weak restraints; of explorers, sea captains, adventurers, merchants, and missionaries carrying American ways to new lands. It analyzes countless crises, some resulting in war and others resolved peacefully. Above all, it is the tale of United States' expansion, commercial and political, across the North American continent, into the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean regions, and, economically, worldwide. Herring brings this first segment of America's dramatic emergence as a superpower to a close with the United States' post-World War I rise to the status of the world's most powerful nation, poised-however unsteadily-for global engagement in what would be called the American Century. Years of Peril and Ambition highlights the ongoing impact of the nation's international affairs on the household names of U.S. history but also on ordinary citizens. Featuring a grand cast of characters, encompassing statesmen and presidents, diplomats and foreigners, and rogues and rascals alike, this fast-paced account illuminates the central importance of foreign relations to the existence and survival of the nation.


1. To Begin the World Over Again: Foreign Policy and the Birth of the Republic, 1776-1778
2. None Who Can Make Us Afraid: The New Republic in a Hostile World, 1789-1801
3. Purified as by Fire: Republicanism Challenged and Reaffirmed, 1801-1815
4. Leave the Rest to Us: The Assertive Republic, 1815-1837
5. A Dose of Arsenic: Slavery, Expansionism, and the Road to Disunion, 1837-1861
6. Last Best Hope: The Union, the Confederacy, and Civil War Diplomacy, 1861-1877
7. A Good Enough England: Foreign Relations in the Gilded Age, 1877-1893
8. The War of1898 and the Dawn of the American Century, 1893-1901
9. Bursting with Good Intentions: The United States in World Affairs, 1901-1913
10. A New Age: Wilson, the Great War, and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1913-1921
Bibiliographic Essay

About the author: 

George C. Herring is Alumni Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Kentucky. A leading authority on U.S. foreign relations, he is the former editor of Diplomatic History and a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. He is the author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 and LBJ and Vietnam: A Different Kind of War, among other books.

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