An ambitious reconstruction of the processes by which the United States replaced Great Britain as the principal oceanic power. A distinguished British historian analyzes the historic developments in light of domestic changes, including generational changes in policymakers in the two countries and the interaction between them. There is no Anglo-American piety here, but a sure sense of realism and an emphasis on the frequent misperceptions and misunderstandings that marred relations. He sees a recurrent strain of "moral imperialism" in American policy, one that inspired President Wilson to try to use American power "not merely to give America the leading part on the stage of world politics, but to make her playwright, producer, director and theatre owner as well." A compact, complex, and greatly rewarding book.