A New Deal for the World: America's Vision for Human Rights

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A New Deal for the World: America's Vision for Human Rights

By Elizabeth Borgwardt
Harvard University Press, 2005
480 pp. $35.00

The United States' vision of a proper world order after World War II was a distinctive blend of realism and liberalism, pragmatism and idealism. This book by a young historian provides a rich and original account of the architects of the postwar global system and their ideas. Borgwardt argues that Franklin Roosevelt's planners brought to their task notions of security, justice, and governance forged within the United States during the New Deal and, in doing so, launched the human rights revolution that has reshaped today's world. Roosevelt himself is seen as pivotal, sobered by the failure of Woodrow Wilson but convinced that a new global order committed to human rights, collective security, and economic advancement was necessary to avoid a return to war; the 1941 Atlantic Charter and Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms," in Borgwardt's view, were groundbreaking pronouncements emphasizing the rights and interests of people rather than nations. The book traces such ideas through three postwar events: Bretton Woods, the United Nations, and the Nuremberg trials. Borgwardt's detailed narratives of planning and negotiation provide an evocative glimpse of the zeitgeist of an earlier generation at a truly transformative historical moment.

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