Mark P. Bradley
The World Reimagined
Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century
Cambridge University Press 2016
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network April 17, 2017 Marshall Poe
In his farewell address, President George Washington warned his fellow citizens of the dangers of what has come to be known in American political speech as “foreign entanglements.” Whether Washington’s successors heeded this advice is an open question; the U.S.–at least since World War I–has often been and remains today “entangled” in various ways. But, as Mark P. Bradley points out in his new book The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2016), the language in which the U.S. has excused and explained its engagement of other countries changes from time to time. In the 1940s and again in the 1970s, Bradley convincingly argues, American diplomats (and numerous citizens and NGOs) began to talk about foreign engagements in a new way–in the idiom of putatively universal “human right.” This line of foreign policy reasoning, of course, continues have force today. In The World Reimagined, Bradley describes and explains how ‘human rights talk’ entered American political and diplomatic culture, and the direction it’s headed.