In his celebrated book “Of Paradise and Power,” Robert Kagan took issue with “the mistaken idea that the American founding generation was utopian, that it genuinely considered power politics ‘alien and repulsive’ and was simply unable to comprehend the importance of the power factor in foreign relations.” Those words might stand as one epigraph for his provocative and deeply absorbing new book. Another could be what a South African historian once said about a book of his own: although its pages told of another time, “they are also about today.”
From the beginning, Americans liked to believe that they were free of Old-Worldly original sin, dwellers in a city on a hill who “cherished an image of themselves as by nature inward-looking and aloof.” And from the beginning, Kagan argues in “Dangerous Nation,” they were wrong. In this, the first of two volumes on the United States as an international power, he shows how America was always a player, and often a ruthless one, in the great game of nations.
more from the NY Times Book Review here.