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Rethinking American Grand Strategy

Edited by Elizabeth Borgwardt, Edited by Christopher McKnight Nichols, and Edited by Andrew Preston

September 2021

ISBN: 9780190695675

488 pages

Price: £16.99



A comprehensive rethinking about the nature of American grand strategy in the past, present, and future.

  • Broadens the range of topics treated historically as part of grand strategy, as well as the range of experts offering the analysis
  • Offers depth around questions such as why history matters in specific sets of contexts
  • Brings together a group of preeminent scholars, many of the best and most well-regarded thinkers in the field today, to construct a historically rich account of how Grand Strategy has developed and operated in American history

About the Author(s)

Edited by Elizabeth Borgwardt, Associate Professor of History and Law, Washington University in St. Louis, Edited by Christopher McKnight Nichols, Director of the Center for the Humanities and Associate Professor of History, Oregon State University, and Edited by Andrew Preston, Professor of American History, University of Cambridge

Elizabeth Borgwardt is an associate professor of history and law at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of A New Deal for the World: America's Vision for Human Rights.

Christopher McKnight Nichols is Director of the Center for the Humanities and Associate Professor of History at Oregon State University and the author of Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age.

Andrew Preston is Professor of American History at the University of Cambridge and the author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy and American Foreign Relations: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2019), among other books.

Table of Contents

    Introduction- Christopher McKnight Nichols and Andrew Preston
    I. Frameworks
    1. Getting Grand Strategy Right: Clearing Away Common Fallacies in the Grand Strategy Debate- Hal Brands
    2. The Blob and the Mob: On Grand Strategy and Social Change- Beverly Gage
    3. Turning the Tide: The Application of Grand Strategy to Global Health- Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren A. Taylor
    II. Historical Grand Narratives
    4. Extending the Sphere: A Federalist Grand Strategy- Charles Edel
    5. Grand Strategy of the Master Class: Slavery and Foreign Policy from the Antebellum Era to the Civil War-Matthew Karp
    6. A Useful Category of Analysis? Grand Strategy and US Foreign Relations from the Civil War through World War I- Katherine C. Epstein
    7. Grand Strategies (or Ascendant Ideas) since 1919- David Milne
    III. Recasting Central Figures
    8. Woodrow Wilson, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Beyond: American Internationalists and the Crucible of World War I-I- Christopher McKnight Nichols
    9. Franklin Roosevelt, the New Deal, and Grand Strategy: Constructing the Postwar Order- Elizabeth Borgwardt
    10. Foreign Policy Begins at Home: Americans, Grand Strategy, and World War II- Michaela Hoenicke Moore
    11. National Security as Grand Strategy: Edward Mead Earle and the Burdens of World Power- Andrew Preston
    12. The Misanthropy Diaries: Containment, Democracy, and the Prejudices of George Frost Kennan- David Greenberg
    13. Implementing Grand Strategy: The Nixon-Kissinger Revolution at the National Security Council- William Inboden
    14. George H.W. Bush: Strategy and the Stream of History- Jeffrey A. Engel
    IV. New Approaches
    15. Foreign Missions and Strategy, Foreign Missions as Strategy- Emily Conroy-Krutz
    16. The Unbearable Whiteness of Grand Strategy- Adriane Lentz-Smith
    17. Rival Visions of Nationhood: Immigration Policy, Grand Strategy, and Contentious Politics- Daniel J. Tichenor
    18. Disastrous Grand Strategy: US Humanitarian Assistance and Global Natural Catastrophe- Julia F. Irwin
    19. Denizens of a Center: Rethinking Early Cold War Grand Strategy- Ryan Irwin
    20. Reproductive Politics and Grand Strategy- Laura Briggs
    V. Reflections from the American Century
    21. Casualties and the Concept of Grandness: A View from the Korean War- Mary L. Dudziak
    22. American Grand Strategy: How Grand Has It Been? How Much Does It Matter?- Fredrik Logevall


"'Grand strategy' is a term that is as difficult to define as it is widely used by scholars and practitioners. This volume's editors and contributors believe that the concept needs to be reconceived....It should be broadened beyond its roots in military affairs and conventionally defined security to include a variety of additional issues, such as immigration, public health, demographics, international assistance, and climate change. It also needs to reach beyond its traditional focus on the state as the only important player to include other influential voices and actors....This volume...is a valuable contribution to the task of broadly rethinking the goals and tactics of U.S. foreign policy. The analyses it presents are solidly rooted in history and provide thought-provoking insights into issues and actors that grand strategists rarely consider" - Jessica T. Mathews, Foreign Affairs

"This is, overall, a fantastic book. It's incredibly thought provoking and well researched. I appreciated that it challenged the current ways of thinking of Grand Strategy, and questioned the approaches taken by leaders throughout American history...This book would be a great read for a student of American History, Government, or Political Science, and I believe it offers a unique perspective to anyone looking to understand the use of Grand Strategy over the past two centuries." - Kyra Young, Corvallis Advocate

"I have never seen the words 'grand strategy' and 'global health' in the same sentence, much less an exploration of race and grand strategy. Rethinking Grand Strategy is not what you likely expect, and is far better for it. It is a genuine step toward changing what we think about when we think about grand strategy and who does the thinking." - Anne-Marie Slaughter, Professor Emerita, Princeton University

"This is a terrific collection on the highs and lows of US grand strategy and the debate over its significance. Giving ample room for dissenting voices, the volume reaffirms the necessity of strategic thinking for producing favorable outcomes on issues ranging from national security to reproductive politics." - O.A. Westad, Yale University

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