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Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy since 1938

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  984 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
A survey of America's foreign policy from 1938 through to President Clinton's second term in 1995. Included in the text is commentary on Reagan's deal with Iran in 1980, Bush's deal with Iraq up to the invasion of Kuwait, the Middle East peace talks and the collapse of Soviet Union.
Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1971)
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Diplomacy by Henry KissingerGhost Wars by Steve CollThe Cold War by John Lewis GaddisThe Looming Tower by Lawrence WrightThe Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria
American Foreign Policy
48th out of 262 books — 168 voters
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Best Books of 1972
32nd out of 86 books — 40 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,164)
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Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
This felt like a book of two halves. What began as a detailed and seemingly thoroughly researched study of American foreign affairs sadly began by the Nixon years to seem merely generalised and opinionated.

But without doubt it was the worst example of proof-reading that I've ever encountered: errant commas, dollar signs transposed by random numerals, non-sensical sentences (in one case the word 'create' is replaced by 'cremate') not to mention unnecessarily sloppy colloquialisms. Arguably the in
Apr 20, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
THERE ARE SO MANY F*-#KING TYPOS IN THIS BOOK. Apologies for the profanity, but dear Lord, who edited this thing?! Paragraphs split in the middle of a sentence, misspellings, random commas, missing capital letters....someone was clearly asleep at the wheel in proofreading this thing. Beyond just typos, there was also a lot of bad or confusing phrasing and awkward sentences that really brought down the level of the book, stylistically. So one star off for some poor writing.

The other star I took o
Tara deCamp
Aug 25, 2015 Tara deCamp rated it liked it
This book is a decent survey of US foreign policy post-WWII. If you know absolutely nothing about the subject, this wouldn't be a bad primer.
Walter Alves
Mar 04, 2010 Walter Alves rated it really liked it
I had to read a chapter from this book for class but was so enthralled that I decided to read the remaining 400 pages. It’s a summary of American foreign policy since 1938, if that sentence alone bored you then you shouldn’t bother. Regardless, this is the only foreign policy book I’ve ever read and felt “enlightened”, there was a lot of information but it was presented in a way that would make a squirrel go “ah!”

Books like these that show all the inner workings of historical events are, unfortu
Dec 27, 2007 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leisure-book
This is one of those books that I actually remember the precise moment that I first picked it up. I was in college. Some of my friends and I were walking down, I believe, 7th Avenue between Irving and Judah streets late on a Friday night. We had just left the pizza parlor, walking back to our cars, when we passed a bookstore on the east side of the street (I don't know if it's still there). The store was closed, it's green awning drawn back over the peeling green door frame, the lights were all ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The quality of the writing and analysis decline sharply in the last half or even third of the text, and the rampant grammatical and spelling errors detracted further from the overall work. The authors seemed to have clear favorites in terms of presidents, and some of their analysis was downright baffling (like shoe-horning blame for 9/11 into the Clinton chapters).

Overall, a relatively strong start squandered in later chapters. Very disappointing.
Jul 08, 2015 Harold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I asked a history professor to recommend a good book about recent American History, after telling him I had no history background but read a lot of popular biographies and histories. This was the book he recommended. It is not typical Stephen Ambrose -- history as a story, and visa versa. While not being overly scholarly, this is the tale of American foreign policy in the cold war -- how did it start and what kept it going.

The story of the beginning of the cold war is straightforwardly told, in
Jul 14, 2012 Casey rated it liked it
An interesting read, but having read about twenty other books specifically in this genre it leaves a little to be desired. I found it to be an excellent way to catch up on holes in my education (i.e. learning more abou the Carter administration) but if you want a great all around book on the rise of globalism and American foreign policy there are better books out there.
Jul 09, 2015 Scott rated it it was amazing
I like to consider myself a fairly cultured and learned person who is up-to-date on most current affairs. I was deeply humbled at how much history I didn't know. I realized my knowledge of US foreign policy and world history (after WWII) was surprisingly limited to the perspective of my high school US History teacher. This book empowered me with knowledge. It's discussions are fairly brief and lively, but I do not have the sense that I am missing out or getting a skewed perspective of US foreign ...more
Sep 16, 2014 Aimen rated it it was ok
Before Chapter 2 even begun, my eyes were drooping. I feel bad reviewing this so harshly but this book has become my night time lullaby before I go to bed.
I think the authors totally knew what they were talking about, missing information- sure, but it was mostly all knowledgable. I just had a very hard time getting through this book.
Some parts were written like a story and was captivating but then all the explicit detail just had me zoned out.
Overall? Not a good read, for a class or a normal
Aug 14, 2014 Dave rated it really liked it
I was assigned this book in college and I pretty much skimmed it for class. Over 15 years later I decided maybe I should read it for real. I learned that it was updated with the assistance of Douglas Brinkley who is an excellent historian/writer. The chapters are divided into specific historical periods of huge influence concerning US foreign policy. Ambrose who was one of our greatest historians wrote this book in an easy flow. There aren't a billion quotes or talk of "troop divisions" or an in ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Gregory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No holds barred in its analysis

Read earlier editions over the years, often wondering how recent history would be seen and analyzed. Finally read this latest edition, and it was better than I remembered. Although retrospect is always 20/20 vision, it remains fascinating to see the links, the shifts and the disconnections in policy caused by new administrations and the thinking which never makes it into the daily news.
Very informative book on U.S. foreign policy from 1938 through Bush 43. This provided fascinating insights into some of the motivations behind the foreign policy decisions and the global and U.S. impact of those decisions, while for the most part steering clear of domestic affairs. Highly recommend this to anyone interested in the topic.
Oct 09, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have zero knowledge about US Foreign Policy before the 1st Bush White House, then this book is not a bad primer. You wont find a great amount of detail about any single event but dont get this book expecting that. If you want a book about the Korean War, for instance, then buy a book about Korea, like Halberstams The Longest Winter. Rise to Globalism is a survey book, a Birds Eye view of history, as one person wrote. The portions covering Iraq and Afghanistan arent valuable really. Too br ...more
Bart Thanhauser
Aug 04, 2014 Bart Thanhauser rated it it was ok
A good survey of US foreign policy post-WW2. Still, a survey. A lot of information without going to deep into the people and forces shaping the time. Also, the latter half of the book becomes a bit partisan. Ambrose loses the austere tone of the omnipotent historian and cheesy language and stale drama takes over his writing. Still, a good book for what it is--a survey.
Shatha M
Aug 19, 2014 Shatha M rated it really liked it
I read it for a class and enjoyed it. Despite the complexity of the American Foreign Policy which might make reading such a book boring, the author style of writing keeps you engaged and entertained. It is simple, convencing and backed with evidence. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in US FP
Sylvia Yu
Aug 02, 2015 Sylvia Yu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good primer of American Foreign Policy and it is recommended by SAIS professors. I received my history education mostly in China and it is very interesting to read about the decision making process from a US point of view.
Jul 08, 2014 Stephen rated it liked it
Although they make a decent attempt to evaluate the merits of the 20th century Presidents' foreign policy goals, the authors offer only a confused analysis of the major policy trends after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Dec 22, 2013 Kyle rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent--and very approachable--survey of modern American foreign policy. Ambrose masterfully weaves together and summarizes important policy-shaping moments, each of which likely deserves a book of its own. While he's not without his biases, most accounts are, on the whole, objective in their treatment. By the time you finish reading Rise to Globalism, you'll really appreciate how far we've come, how much has gone into decisions that have shaped the world, and how the responsibilit ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Rflutist rated it liked it
This book is a great crash course review of American presidential history and foreign policy. However, the book suffers from some poor editing in spots, and seems to end rather abruptly. The bibliography suggests some further reading which I'll research.
Nov 05, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it
Gets a little opinionated toward the final chapters but most of it is a really good recap.

So many typos though. Which is odd for this type of book.
Bryan Mckinney
Very informative. Learned a lot and has changed my perspective of our government, our presidents, and foreign policy. Great read for FSOT prep., like in my case. Otherwise it can be quite bland and textbook like if you don't like the subject. What I liked was after being brought nose deep in details and analysis there was also a step taken back with an overall birdseye view analysis of a president's terms and whether anything meaningful was accomplished or not in the end. This gave interesting p ...more
Sep 12, 2008 Dustin rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii, vietnam
Why couldn't we have read this book in high school? The kind of history that points out the problems and issues, not just the boring "The US has overcome all obstacles, and will continue to do so" flag-waving bull of most modern text books. The chapters on Reagan and Bush were especially illuminating to me, having grown up during that period and not having understood some of the bigger picture issues as a child.

Required reading, along with 'Lies My Teacher Told Me.'
Becca Brown
Sep 26, 2015 Becca Brown rated it liked it
While rather dull, this book did give a very capable analysis of the past century of American foreign policy from a Realist perspective.
Otty Medina
This book was selected from the State Department reading list as an umbrella introduction to American foreign policy. Fascinating read, while at the same time disheartening from the perspective that America's foreign policy has largely been driven by misperceived necessity to counter rivals militaristically in some form or fashion.

Definitely want to read more WRT Eisenhower's presidency/ foreign policy; Clinton-era democratic expansion, as well as more foreign policy from perspectives outside th
May 22, 2015 Ryan rated it really liked it
A great overview of the events, policies, and people that made the twentieth century what it was.
Dena Luchsinger
Nov 23, 2013 Dena Luchsinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad I read this. The better part of the book is extremely well written, on point, and feels as unbiased as a good history ought to be; however, the tone of the book changes somewhat in the final chapters, which were probably penned after Stephen Ambrose's death. Whereas Mr. Ambrose seems to have viewed each of the presidents about whom he wrote respectfully, understanding that each faced pressures the average American can never truly understand, the last few chapters seemed to reflect di ...more
Nate Cooley
Feb 08, 2008 Nate Cooley rated it really liked it
Two of the most well-known and well-read history writers have presented the subject in this book in a manner that is both comprehensive and incredibly smooth. The book is great not only for the breadth of the subjects covered, but also the depth of the insights. The authors are able to provide both without redundancy. Additionally, the subject matter flows from one event to the next without interuption. This is an excellent book for someone interested in the United States and its relationship wi ...more
Sam Snideman
Jan 01, 2012 Sam Snideman rated it liked it
Ambrose provides a pretty good 30,000-foot view of the changing nature of American foreign policy since 1938. It's organized primarily by president, which makes it easier to follow (though not easier to compare where presidents were on given big-picture policy issues). For foreign policy neophytes, this is a great, easy to read primer. For people more familiar with foreign policy/international relations theory and practice, it's a great history piece. Either way, there's something for everyone w ...more
Apr 05, 2012 Glendora rated it really liked it
A comprehensive introduction to the various foreign policy concepts and terminology (isolationism, containment, etc.) within a 60-year span, and their evolution since the second world war. Dense, but readable. It serves as both a reminder of the historical chronology of events and gives insight into the back room decision-making that fueled certain policy shifts during each president's term and at times of major transition. Published in the late 90s, so it only covers a thimbleful of the second ...more
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Stephen Edward Ambrose was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. He received his Ph.D. in 1960 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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