cover image The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II

The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II

John W. Dower. Haymarket, $15.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-60846-723-5

Dower, professor emeritus of history at MIT and winner of a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize for 1999’s Embracing Defeat, counters the notion that a postwar Pax Americana, in which the U.S. assumed the role of the world’s police force, has led to decline of violence during this period. He asserts that though there are myriad conflicts and terrorist acts that do not involve the U.S., the U.S. and its allies remain key players and, indeed, perpetrators of many of the paroxysms of violence that have engulfed the globe. Moreover, the American conflicts in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia come complete with mayhem of a different order that is as deadly as the world wars. Dower delivers a convincing blow to publisher Henry Luce’s benign “American Century” thesis, positing that violence has continued at an epic pace through conventional combat and terrorism as well as through famine, disease, and displacement of people from their homelands. The U.S. often responds as victim rather than villain, but Bower concludes that the country’s preoccupation with its own exceptionalism continues to perpetuate the American hubris that fuels ever more violent international conflicts. (Apr.)