In This Review

America in the World: The Historiography of American Foreign Relations Since 1941
America in the World: The Historiography of American Foreign Relations Since 1941
Edited by Michael J. Hogan
Cambridge University Press, 1996, 619 pp.

This volume, most of which appeared previously in Diplomatic History, includes 14 essays by eminent authorities on the voluminous historiography of U.S. foreign policy since 1941. The emphasis is on the literature produced in the last 15 years. These balanced contributions from a variety of ideological and methodological perspectives -- all of them quite useful and instructive -- are preceded by a less edifying examination of "the state of the art" of diplomatic history. Its centerpiece is a long essay by Bruce Cumings that is dazzling, wild, and relentlessly ad hominem, from which one deduces that the state of the art includes much in the way of action painting. John Lewis Gaddis is the main target of Cuming's diatribe; his absence from the volume is difficult to understand and seems justifiable only on the assumption that budding historians are to be spared exposure to heretics. Despite this unseemliness, the volume provides a fascinating snapshot of the state of the field of diplomatic history, which seems like Gaul to be divided into three parts: the good, the bad, and the ugly.