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Maximalist by Stephen Sestanovich
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Maximalist by Stephen Sestanovich
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Oct 14, 2014 | ISBN 9780307388308

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    Oct 14, 2014 | ISBN 9780307388308

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“[An] analytic tour de force . . . a useful and often original look at the strategies of the last 12 American presidents . . . a strong case. . . . Anyone interested in the past or the future of American foriegn policy and power would benefit from its insights.” —Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs 

“In his engaging and richly anecdotal new book, Maximalist, Stephen Sestanovich applies that understanding as a framework for reexamining post-World War II U.S. history to find the persistent truths and lessons that he believes can inform our understanding of the present. . . . A scholar of the Soviet Union and a former U.S. diplomat who now teaches at Columbia University, Sestanovich shows that the ambitions of policymakers and the cycles of public opinion that drive them are inevitable and recurrent. He is at his best in describing the Johnson and Nixon administrations, capturing the infighting among those presidents and their senior advisers as they grappled with America’s role in the world.” —Marcus Brauchli, The Washington Post

“Maximalist . . . makes clear that the U.S. has never achieved strategic continuity. American strategy has frequently shifted, sometimes over the course of a single administration, and these disruptions have often proved beneficial to our national security. . . . [An] excellent book.” —Sohrab Ahmari, The Wall Street Journal

“Among the many virtues of Maximalist is the mathematical elegance of its thesis. . . .Maximalist surveys American foreign policy from Truman to Obama. . . . Compelling. . . . Refreshingly non-partisan.” —Michael Doran, Commentary

Maximalist is a highly readable account of American engagement during the Cold War and the War on Terror. It provides a commonsense means to assess American military and diplomatic policy without the fog of political rhetoric.” —Karl Wolff, New York Journal of Books

“A leading voice. . . . Offers a provocative reasssement of America’s global dominance. . . . Sestanovich finds fresh lessons in the past that clarify our chaotic present.”
The Record

“Incisive and provocative. Written by one of our country’s foremost scholars, Maximalist is rich with anecdotes and enlivened by little-known details about well-known events. Sestanovich has made a masterful contribution to the history of modern American diplomacy.” —Madeleine Albright
“This is one of the most important books ever written about U.S. foreign policy. It will immediately join George F. Kennan’s classic American Diplomacy as essential reading for all students of America’s behavior in the world. In fact, it should replace it. Sestanovich is a brilliant and insightful writer. His book couldn’t be more timely.” —Robert Kagan, author of The World America Made
Maximalist is a nicely provocative and highly readable account of how presidents have used American power since World War II. It combines carefully researched history with advice that is very relevant to the situation of the United States today.” —Joseph S. Nye, Jr., author of Soft Power and Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era 

“Americans routinely need to be reminded that our past was not as smooth and rosy as we like to remember it; Stephen Sestanovich provides a masterful and entertaining corrective.  Maximalist is beautifully written, with engaging anecdotes woven throughout. Most important, it  will change your view of Obama’s foreign policy.” —Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America Foundation; Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University

Table Of Contents

Prologue: “We Do Big Things”

Part One: 1947–1960
1. Truman at the Creation: “The United States Must Run This Show”
2. Truman at War: “Victory Is a Strong Magnet”
3. “Enough Is Enough”: Eisenhower and Retrenchment

Part Two: 1961–1980
4. “Boy Commandos” of the New Frontier: Kennedy’s Anxious Activism
5. “Mainly Violins, with Touches of Brass”:Johnson Against His Advisers
6. “We Have Not Been Divided”: Johnson at War
7. Retrenchment and Vietnam: “Get Going, Take Risks, Be Exciting”
8. Retrenchment and Détente: “A Nihilistic Nightmare”

Part Three: 1981 to the Present
9. “Outspend Them Forever”: Reagan and the End of the Cold War
10. “No One Else Can Do This”: Bush, Clinton, and the Retrenchment That Wasn’t
11. “Things Related and Not”: Bush and September 11
12. “No Wiggle Room”: Obama and Retrenchment

Epilogue: “If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Overdoing”


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