Basic Books

Jeremy D. Popkin, a historian at the University of Kentucky, fittingly begins his account of the French Revolution with a printer in Lexington enthusing in late 1793 about the ideals of the Revolution of 1789 in his Kentucky Almanac. The printer’s geographic distance from the events in Paris meant that his idealistic vision of the Revolution coincided with its most violent and repressive period in 1793–94, later dubbed ‘the Reign of Terror’. This juxtaposition of 1789 and 1793 is useful for Popkin to make his key point that, ‘despite its shortcomings, however, the French Revolution remains a vital part of the heritage of democracy’.

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America and the World: Conversations on the future of American foreign policy by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, moderated by David Ignatius

by
February 2009, no. 308

It is easy to believe, in the glad confident morning of the new presidency, that not being George W. Bush will be enough: that to restore America’s place in the world, Barack Obama need only avoid the mistakes and repudiate the misdeeds of his discredited predecessor. If so, his task will be easy, and this book may help. But what if something more is needed?

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Empire is everywhere. You can see it in the shanty towns of São Paulo and on the coffee tables of the well-heeled in Boston and Sydney. It made us, in its British form, in the antipodes via the expeditions of Cook and Banks, and all that followed. Now it dominates our newspapers and television screens in the form of war.

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