Charles Austin Beard
The Return of the Master Historian of American Imperialism
Cornell University Press 2018
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in BiographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & Society March 12, 2019 Mark Klobas
During the first half of the 20th century the American historian Charles Austin Beard enjoyed both professional success and a national prominence that suffered with his outspoken opposition to the direction of foreign policy under Franklin Roosevelt. In Charles Austin Beard: The Return of the Master Historian of American Imperialism (Cornell University Press, 2018), Richard Drake traces the development of Beard’s ideas in this area and his involvement in the contemporary discourse over current events. Drake identifies Beard’s time at Oxford University as key to the development of his thinking, with his introduction to the works of John Ruskin and John Atkinson Hobson. Though Beard’s early writings led to a friendship with the progressive politician Robert La Follette, the two men disagreed about America’s intervention in the First World War, a cause Beard supported. In its aftermath, however, Beard reconsidered his opinion, and by the 1930s emerged as a prominent critic of America’s involvement in overseas disputes. Beard held to his views even after America’s entry into the Second World War, establishing an unlikely association with former president Herbert Hoover and offering a prescient critique in its aftermath of the consequences of America’s postwar foreign policy.