Commentators call the United States an empire: occasionally a benign empire, sometimes an empire in denial, often a destructive empire. In American Umpire, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman explores key turning points in history from George Washington to Barack Obama. She challenges the notion that the United States is an empire, and asserts instead that America has performed the role of umpire since 1776, compelling adherence to rules that gradually earned broad approval, even though it also violated these rules on occasion. Over time, prosperity spread, wars declined in ferocity, and human life expectancy doubled worldwide. But security came at a cost that was not shared equally by all. The United States is the world's most powerful country--and one of its richest--but more exposed to criticism and hazards than ever. Umpiring is a weighty responsibility. With all eyes upon them, umpires cannot win.
American Umpire is the most persuasive and sensible one-volume interpretation of the whole history of American foreign policy to appear in at least a generation. (Philip Zelikow, University of Virginia)
American Umpire is startlingly original, a fascinating interpretation of the history of the United States in the world. (Erez Manela, co-editor of...