A Nation Like All Others: A Brief History of American Foreign Relations

Warren I. Cohen (Author)


Belief in the United States as a force for good in the world runs deep. Yet an honest consideration reveals a history marred by great crimes and ordinary errors, alongside many achievements and triumphs. In this comprehensive account of American foreign relations from the nation's founding through the present day, the diplomatic historian Warren I. Cohen calls attention to the uses--and abuses--of U.S. international leadership and the noble as well as the exploitative ends that American power has wrought.

In A Nation Like All Others, Cohen offers a brisk, argumentative history that confronts the concept of American exceptionalism and decries the lack of moral imagination in American foreign policy. He begins with the foreign policy of colonial and postrevolutionary America, exploring interactions with European powers and Native Americans and the implications of slavery and westward expansion. He then traces the rise of American empire; the nation's choices leading up to and in the wake of the First World War; and World War II and renewed military involvement in foreign affairs. Cohen provides a long history of the Cold War, from its roots under Truman through the Korean and Vietnam Wars to the transformation of the international system under Reagan and Gorbachev. Finally, he surveys America's recent history in the Middle East, with particular attention to the mismanagement of the War on Terror and Abu Ghraib. Written with great depth of knowledge and moral clarity, A Nation Like All Others suggests that an unflinching look at the nation's past is America's best option to shape a better future.

Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
March 06, 2018
6.0 X 1.0 X 9.1 inches | 1.3 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Warren I. Cohen is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. His Columbia University Press books include East Asian Art and American Culture (1992), East Asia at the Center: Four Thousand Years of Engagement with the World (2001), and America's Response to China: A History of Sino-American Relations (fifth edition, 2010).


A lively, well-written history of America's foreign policy and diplomacy from 1776 to the present. This is a superb synthesis, in places quite provocative in its arguments, and a signal accomplishment.--George Herring, University of Kentucky
A Nation Like All Others is a book like none other. Warren I. Cohen offers an authoritative but brief overview of American interactions with the wider world from the founding of the nation to our present day. He covers all the major events with acute observations about the sources of policy, compelling judgments of decision makers, and thoughtful ruminations about how things fit together (or not). This is an opinionated survey of American trials and tribulations, delivered as a single narrative with larger-than-life protagonists.--Jeremi Suri, University of Texas at Austin
In this brief and illuminating account of U.S. foreign policy from Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution to Donald Trump and 'America first, ' Cohen displays the wisdom and insight that have made him one of the country's most admired chroniclers of American diplomacy. Lamenting the nation's loss of its moral compass, Cohen deftly probes the economic, strategic, and domestic political imperatives that make it so difficult to reconcile the exceptionalism he cherishes with the realism he admires.--Melvyn P. Leffler, Edward Stettinius Professor of American History, University of Virginia
Cohen's lucid writing and distinguished scholarship have settled key questions in the history of U.S.-Asian relations, and he does the same here in magnificently relating four hundred years of U.S. relations with the world. Gemlike portrayals of Ben Franklin through McKinley (the 1890s marked 'the point of no return' for Americans) to Obama will attract students and general readers alike.--Walter LaFeber, Cornell University
Cohen's deep scholarship and incisive writing have combined to make him for decades the leading historian of American foreign policy and diplomacy. This book succeeds in taking the reader concisely through the full sweep of America's relations with the rest of the world.--James Mann, scholar-in-residence, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
A fast yet comprehensive read with wide appeal for those interested in how the country has evolved to its present uncomfortable condition--Library Journal "Library Journal (Starred Review) "
These are the kinds of large questions about the modern world and the U.S. place therein that would appeal to general readers and help them see that history may be much more than 'just one damned thing after another.'--Diplomatic History
Written with great clarity, A Nation Like All Others is an important addition to the literature on US diplomacy...Highly recommended.--Choice