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At a time when the United States remains embroiled in Afghanistan and once again discusses the pros and cons and indeed the existence of an empire overseas, it is apt to look back to the first time Americans fought about this issue. That late nineteenth-century debate erupted in the wake of the Spanish-American War of It focused not only on foreign policy, but also on the nation's very essence and purpose. At the heart of this debate was a surprising consensus about American nationalism.

It assumed that the United States was a nation unlike any other and that this exceptionalism destined the country to promote democracy worldwide. The disagreements between imperialists and anti-imperialists occurred within this particularly American consensus. They were rooted in the malleability of the concept of exceptionalism. The author clearly sees her research as a scholarly as well as a political intervention: taking part in the construction of such an iconography of black heroism, at the same time that she deconstructs white racist prejudices and stereotypical obfuscations be they pro-slavery, abolitionist, or post-slavery liberal.

In her book, then, the only reluctantly recognized, ignored or disfigured black male and female heroes of epochs of slavery and post-slavery repression become the heroic icons of a continuing postcolonial and transnational struggle: "For such an array of Black heroic figures, diverse acts and arts of radical self-representation remain no less precious currency in the twentieth and twentyfirst centuries" That passion is also driving this spirited book which is highly competent in its handling of a broad range of theory and secondary material and, at the same time, convincing in its care-full and resourceful textual analyses that explore the hedgehog's impenetrable and untranslatable surface, yet manage to keep it alive.

Fabian Hilfrich's Debating American Exceptionalism: Empire and Democracy in the Wake of the Spanish-American War the runner-up focuses on the internal debates and ideological tensions within the shared ideology of American exceptionalism: Imperialists and Anti-imperialists alike used it in their debate about the nature and destiny of American democracy during the s and after: " This book explains why the belief in exceptionalism still serves as the basis of American nationalism and foreign policy even in spite of more recent military failures. Paul S. Our Divided Political Heart.

Dionne Jr. Death of a Nation. Dinesh D'Souza. Lincoln Unmasked. Thomas J.


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