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About the book
In the first book to trace the full arc of isolationism across American history — from the founding era through the Trump presidency — Charles Kupchan explores the enduring connection between the isolationist impulse and the American experience. Isolationism
examines the sources and impact of the US aversion to foreign entanglement from the presidency of George Washington until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Kupchan writes that, amid World War II and the Cold War, Americans finally broke with their isolationist past and embraced an ambitious brand of internationalism that led to a more stable and democratic world. But since the end of the Cold War, he argues, overreach in the Middle East, political polarisation and the economic dislocations of globalisation and COVID-19 have been taking a toll on the nation’s internationalist appetite; isolationist sentiment is making a comeback. Moving forward, Kupchan recommends a judicious retrenchment that constitutes “the middle ground between doing too much and doing too little” and that right-sizes America’s role on the international stage.