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A mortal nation too

An inability to listen to others is common to the nationalism of small countries with troubled histories—like Israel. So why is it also true of the US?

By Linda Colley   June 2005

America Right or Wrong by Anatol Lieven (HarperCollins, £18.99)

In recent years the publishers’ lists have been crowded with books on George W Bush, American empire, Iraq, 9/11 and the purported neocon revolution in US foreign policy, most of them shallow and relentlessly present-minded. Anatol Lieven’s contribution is very different and far more significant. A British-born senior associate at Washington’s Carnegie Endowment, he roots his discussion of these matters firmly in American history. Among many other things, America Right or Wrong is a challenge to those US historians who still incline towards exceptionalism and parochialism.

With some distinguished exceptions, like…

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