From White Settlement to World Hegemony

Victor Kiernan
With a Preface by Eric Hobsbawm


This pioneering study provides unparalleled insight into the history, culture, and politics of American imperialism.
While there have been many analyses of American imperialism, few have equalled the breadth or insight of this seminal text, one of the first to provide a historical perspective on the origins of the American empire. Victor Kiernan, one of the world's most respected historians, employs a nuanced knowledge of history, literature, and politics in tracing the evolution of American power.

Far reaching and ambitious in scope, the book combines accounts of the changing relationship between Native Americans and the white population with readings of the works of key cultural figures, such as Melville and Whitman, as well as an analysis of the way in which money and politics became so closely intertwined in American democracy. 

Also included is a preface by Eric Hobsbawm providing insight into his own views on American imperialism as well as a valuable introduction to Victor Kiernan's work. Together, they shed useful light on such issues as the uses and misuses of American military might, its lack of respect for international agreements, and the right to pre-emptive defence – issues which remain just as urgent today.

Author Bio

Victor Kiernan (1913–2009) ranks among Britain's most distinguished historians. After a fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, and a long period spent teaching in India, he joined the History Department at the University of Edinburgh, where he served as professor of modern history from 1970 until his retirement. Over the course of his life he authored such works as The Lords of Human Kind, European Empires from Conquest to Collapse, Shakespeare: Poet and Citizen, Tobacco: A History and numerous others, as well as translating two volumes of Urdu poetry.

Table of Contents

  • Preface by Eric Hobsbawm
  • Foreword
  • Introduction by John Trumpbour
  • Part I: The Winning of the National Territory
    • 1. The Birth of a Nation
    • 2. The Pursuit of Happiness
    • 3. White Man and Red Man
  • Part II: Middle Decades
    • 1. The Literary Mirror
    • 2. From West Indies to Far East
    • 3. Civil War and After
    • 4. The Last Indian Wars
  • Part III: Overseas Expansion and the War with Spain
    • 1. The Red Man in Custody
    • 2. New Visions of Empire
    • 3. Latin America and Further Asia
    • 4. Anglo-Saxons and Their Wars
  • Part IV: Imperial Choices for a New Century
    • 1. The Progressivist Era
    • 2. The Philippines Experiment, and Direct or Indirect Rule
    • 3. Dollar Diplomacy in Central America
    • 4. Old World Frustrations, and Ideas of a New World Order
  • Part V: Two Strides to World Power
    • 1. Great War and Not So Great Peace
    • 2. Victory and After: The Mirror of Science Fiction
    • 3. America, the World's Banker
    • 4. Slump Years, and a New Look at the Red Indian
    • 5. From Isolationism to Conquest
  • Part VI: The American Hegemony
    • 1. Capitalism, Militarism and the Cold War
    • 2. The Old Empires and Neo-Colonialism
    • 3. War in Vietnam and its Repercussions
    • 4. The Middle East and Africa
    • 5. Latin America
    • 6. Retrospect and Prospect
  • Epilogue by John Trumpbour


'The re-issue of Kiernan's fine study of American imperialism is a very welcome event. His acute analysis, penetrating insights, and immense knowledge have lost none of their luster and are of great contemporary significance.'
Noam Chomsky

'A graphic account of imperial imaginings'
Perry Anderson, in American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers

'Readers of many kinds will have much to learn from a study so packed with information and insight, both conveyed with unflagging elegance.'
Angus Calder, in New Edinburgh Review

'He (Kiernan) became the master of the perfectly chosen quotation inserted into a demure but uncompromising survey of a global scene.' 
Eric Hobsbawm


Publication Date: 15 October 2015
472 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783605989
eBook ePub: 9781783606009
eBook PDF: 9781783605996
eBook Kindle: 9781783606016

Why is peer review so important?

Learn more about the various types of peer review, why it’s so important, what the social and political considerations of peer review are and how we use it at Zed Books.