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American Foreign Policy Since World War II

American Foreign Policy Since World War II

21st Edition

January 2018 | 488 pages | CQ Press

“It is the best and most effectively presented history of US foreign policy available. It is extremely well written. Its accessibility is established by the book’s clear writing and presentation, with no sacrifice of the more challenging theoretical and policy debates regarding US foreign policy since 1945.”

—Glenn Palmer, Penn State University

The Gold Standard for Textbooks on American Foreign Policy

American Foreign Policy Since World War II provides students with an understanding of America’s current challenges by exploring its historical experience as the world’s predominant power since World War II. Through this process of historical reflection and insight, students become better equipped to place the current problems of the nation’s foreign policy agenda into modern policy context.

With each new edition, authors Steven W. Hook and John Spanier find that new developments in foreign policy conform to their overarching theme—there is an American “style” of foreign policy imbued with a distinct sense of national exceptionalism. This Twenty-First Edition continues to explore America’s unique national style with chapters that address the aftershocks of the Arab Spring and the revival of power politics. Additionally, an entirely new chapter devoted to the current administration discusses the implications of a changing American policy under the Trump presidency. 

Chapter 1 The American Approach to Foreign Policy
Learning from Experience

The Roots of American Primacy

Destiny and Moral Mission

Chapter 2 From World War to Cold War
American Wartime Illusions

The Russo-Soviet Approach to Foreign Policy

Soviet Expansion after World War II

The Strategy of Containment

Declaring Cold War: The Truman Doctrine

Chapter 3 Containment: From Theory to Practice
New Economic and Military Structures

Reviving the Western European Allies

Confronting Revolution in East Asia

Domestic Pressures for a Global Crusade

Eisenhower’s “New Look” in Foreign Policy

Chapter 4 North-South Tensions and the Vietnam War
Developing Countries in the Crossfire

Regional Conflicts in Latin America

Vietnam: The Limits of Containment

Chapter 5 Détente and World-Order Politics
Managing the Superpower Rivalry

Carter’s Quest for World Order

War and Peace in the Middle East

Blowback and the Soviet Power Play

Chapter 6 Breakthroughs in the Superpower Struggle
Reagan’s Rhetorical Offensive

Expanding U.S. Military Forces

“Rollback” in Developing Countries

Alliance Politics in the Late Cold War

From Confrontation to Conciliation

Chapter 7 The End of the Cold War
Bush’s Management of the Soviet Collapse

Endgame: The Collapse of the Core

Reasons for the Soviet Collapse

A Final Appraisal

Chapter 8 Old Tensions in a New Order
Great Expectations after the Cold War

Bill Clinton’s Embrace of “Geoeconomics”

Sources of Global Fragmentation

War and Peace in the Middle East

The Plight of “Failed States”

Lessons from the Regional Crises

Chapter 9 The Shifting European Landscape
Western Europe: From Community to Union

Jump-Starting Democracy in Eastern Europe

NATO’s Search for a New Mission

“Ethnic Cleansing” in the Balkans

U.S.-Russian Relations under Stress

Chapter 10 America under Fire
Strains in the Unipolar Order

The Growing Threat of “Sacred Terror”

Terror in the Morning Sky

Elements of Counterterrorism

A Grand Strategy of Primacy and Preemption

Chapter 11 Hot Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
The Afghanistan Campaign

Renewed Hostilities against Iraq

Flashbacks to Vietnam

Chapter 12 Aftershocks of the Arab Spring
Obama’s Call for “Renewal”

Mass Demands for Democracy

Regime Change in Dangerous Places

Iraq’s Collapse and the ISIS Challenge

A Government in Shambles

The Afghan Muddle

Chapter 13 The Revival of Power Politics
Cold War II with Russia

China’s Pacific Challenge

Israel’s Shadow in the Middle East

Ongoing Threats of Nuclear Proliferation

Chapter 14 The End of the American Century?
Internal Threats to Democracy

Trump and Turmoil

Rethinking American Power

Appendix A: U.S. Administrations since World War II
Appendix B: Chronology of Significant Events, 1945–2017
Appendix C: Select Bibliography
Appendix D: Select Websites
Appendix E: Select Blogs on American Foreign Policy
About the Authors

“This book offers a thorough and well-written account of US foreign policy in the post-WWII era. It is the most comprehensive work I have found on the subject and is an excellent resource for anyone seeking a detailed account of American behavior in the world in the last century.”

Timothy J. A. Passmore
The University of Colorado Boulder

“Hook and Spanier’s text is clear, concise, and it covers the period since the September 11 terrorist attacks more skillfully than any comparable text I’ve seen.”

John W. Mackey
College of General Studies, Boston University

“Hook and Spanier address the major points of American Foreign Policy in a concise, chronological order while also providing analysis of the major events of foreign policy. The authors do an excellent job of profiling policy from various angles without endorsing any one policy. The additional bibliography, electronic resources, and chronological chart all contribute to the overall quality of this book.”

Dr. Lori J. Owens, Professor of Political Science
Jacksonville State University

“It is the best and most effectively presented history of US foreign policy available. It is extremely well written. Its accessibility is established by the book’s clear writing and presentation, with no sacrifice of the more challenging theoretical and policy debates regarding US foreign policy since 1945.”

Glenn Palmer
Penn State University

“I like the historic overview” 

Andrea Grove
CSU Channel Islands
Key features
  • New content updates around the following topics:
    • Domestic and foreign policy under the Trump administration
    • The shifting role of the US in the balance of global power
    • Foreign interference in US elections
    • The rise of domestic populism
    • Nuclear brinkmanship in North Korea
    • Terrorism and counterterrorism on US soil
    • China’s growing influence and clashes in the South China Sea
  • Statistics, graphs, and tables have been updated to demonstrate the most recent trends in American foreign policy.

  • The text focuses on the conduct of American foreign policy rather than its formulation and provides students with detailed knowledge of the policymaking process, including legal and institutional restraints, bureaucratic behavior, and the demands posed by civil society.
  • Five appendixes are designed to stimulate informed, critical thinking during this epochal period in American history.
    • The first appendix identifies the most influential makers of foreign policy in U.S. administrations since World War II.
    • The second provides a chronology of important developments in world politics
    • The last three appendixes provide researchers with a comprehensive listing of publications, websites, and foreign policy blogs.


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