Empire of Liberty
Gordon S. Wood
The United States these days doesn’t particularly like being described as an empire, though this has always been part of its DNA. “Empire of liberty” has a nicer ring to it (sort of like “soft power”), but this glosses over what was a conscious emulation of Rome. The rhetoric, as always in the early days of the Republic, could be deceiving; how intentionally is still an open question. In this excellent survey of the years 1789-1815, Gordon S. Wood revisits the gap that quickly developed between the ideals of the Revolutionary generation and the reality of nascent empire – describing how the country was transformed by a political experiment that, whatever its successes, led to results that were not at all what the Founders would have foretold, or even found desirable.