Irony of American History

ISBN-10: 0226583988
ISBN-13: 9780226583983
Edition: 2008
List price: $22.00 Buy it from $14.86
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Description: 0;[Niebuhr] is one of my favorite philosophers. I take away [from his works] the compelling idea that there7;s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we  More...

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Book details

List price: $22.00
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 5/1/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 186
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.25" long x 0.25" tall
Weight: 0.682
Language: English

0;[Niebuhr] is one of my favorite philosophers. I take away [from his works] the compelling idea that there7;s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn7;t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away . . . the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard.1;-Senator Barack Obama Forged during the tumultuous but triumphant postwar years when America came of age as a world power,The Irony of American Historyis more relevant now than ever before. Cited by politicians as diverse as Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Niebuhr7;s masterpiece on the incongruity between personal ideals and political reality is both an indictment of American moral complacency and a warning against the arrogance of virtue. Impassioned, eloquent, and deeply perceptive, Niebuhr7;s wisdom will cause readers to rethink their assumptions about right and wrong, war and peace. 0;The supreme American theologian of the twentieth century.1;-Arthur Schlesinger Jr.,New York Times 0;Niebuhr is important for the left today precisely because he warned about America7;s tendency-including the left7;s tendency-to do bad things in the name of idealism. His thought offers a much better understanding of where the Bush administration went wrong in Iraq.1;-Kevin Mattson,The Good Society 0;Ironyprovides the master key to understanding the myths and delusions that underpin American statecraft. . . . The most important book ever written on US foreign policy.1;-Andrew J. Bacevich, from the Introduction

Walter Lippmann once called Reinhold Niebuhr the greatest mind America had produced since Jonathan Edwards. It was fitting, then, that Niebuhr died at home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in the town where Edwards had preached. He was born in Wright City, Missouri, and his father was a German immigrant who served those German-speaking churches that preserved both the Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) traditions and piety. After seminary in St. Louis, he studied for two years at Yale University, and the M.A. he received there was the highest degree he earned. Rather than work for a doctorate, he became a pastor in Detroit, where in his 13 years of service a tiny congregation grew to one of 800 members. Part of his diary from those years was published in 1929 as Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic. During that time he began to attract attention through articles on social issues; as he said, he "cut [his] eyeteeth fighting [Henry] Ford." But the socialism to which he was attracted soon seemed naive to him: human problems could not be solved just by appealing to the good in people or by promulgating programs for change. Power, economic clout, was needed to change the systems set up by sinful groups, a position expressed in his 1932 book, Moral Man and Immoral Society. By this time Niebuhr was teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he spent the rest of his career. Niebuhr's theology always took second place to ethics. He ran for office as a socialist, rescued Paul Tillich from Germany, became a strong supporter of Israel, gave up pacifism, and was often too orthodox for the liberals, too liberal for the orthodox. His The Nature and Destiny of Man is one of the few seminal theological books written by an American. In it he reiterates a theme that led some to place him in the Barthian camp of Neo-orthodoxy: the radical sinfulness of the human creature. The human condition as illumined by the Christian tradition was always the arena in which he worked.

Andrew Bacevich was born in Normal Illinois. He was a graduate of West Point in 1969 and served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He later held posts in Germany and the Persian Gulf up until his retirement from service in the early 1990's. He has a PhD in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University and has taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins University before joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998 and becoming Professor of International Relations. He has been a critic of the U.S. occupation of Iraq calling the conflict a catastrophic failure. He wrote several books including American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy and Washington Rules.

Introduction
Preface
The Ironic Element in the American Situation
The Innocent Nation in an Innocent World
Happiness, Prosperity and Virtue
The Master of Destiny
The Triumph of Experience Over Dogma
The International Class Struggle
The American Future
The Significance of Irony

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