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Dimensions of Hegemony

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Empire as a Way of Life, by William Appleman Williams. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980. Pp. xiv, 226. $14.95.

A recent review of the new book by revisionist historian William Appleman Williams, Empire as a Way of Life asserts in criticism, "Let us face it, every great nation became great because of its conquests, often at the expense of other peoples. This fact must be recognized, but it does not amount to an enduring trait of national character.t That reviewer thus draws clearly the battle lines on this highly controversial book, as on Williams' previous work as well. On one side are those who do not try to conceal what Williams would call imperial arrogance--the identification of greatness with conquest, the association between civilization and conqueror, and the inevitability of these pairings C"this fact must be recognized"). To them, empire is a small part of America's past, and Williams' discursive, homely, and sometimes even unscholarly style does not encourage them to reassess. On the other side are those like Williams who see empire as the fundamental and defining concern of American statesmen since the early eighteenth century.

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