This is a subtle critique and analysis of what the author calls a "slippery" subject. He finds both the economic/ideological approach of William Appleman Williams and the moralism/realism dichotomy of George F. Kennan narrow or anemic explanations of how ideology and foreign policy interact. His idea of the American attitude, from the late eighteenth century to the present, is of a three-part system of self-congratulatory promotion of liberty abroad, a tendency to view others on the basis of a racial hierarchy, and a profound antipathy to social revolution. The book is clearly written and historically sound. The analysis "works" when applied, for example, to the Vietnam War or current policy toward Central America.