In This Review

The Great War and American Foreign Policy, 1914–24
The Great War and American Foreign Policy, 1914–24
By Robert E. Hannigan
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016, 368 pp

Hannigan’s latest book builds on his previous one, The New World Power: American Foreign Policy, 1898–1917. Like the earlier work, the new one is an essential read for anyone who seeks to understand the development of U.S. national strategy. After the Napoleonic Wars, the United Kingdom relied on its sea power, its manufacturing strength, and the gold standard to build a world system that, by 1900, had become extremely comfortable for the United States. Hannigan argues that President Woodrow Wilson’s policymaking was more conservative than is widely believed and that both Wilson and his successors sought to preserve and develop the existing world order rather than build a new one. Looking at Wilson’s policies in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, Hannigan contends that a quest for stability rather than a drive for revolutionary change lay at the heart of Wilson’s agenda and that this approach continued to shape U.S. strategy under the Harding and Coolidge administrations that followed. Readers will come away from this thoughtful book with a richer understanding of problems that continue to challenge the United States today.