During the 1940s, many Americans began to rethink America’s place in the world, and they did so with the help of Wendell Willkie. Willkie, the 1940 Republican nominee for president, businessman, and unofficial presidential envoy, made international issues easy to understand for many Americans. His particular brand of internationalism, outlined in his bestselling book One World (1943), challenged Americans to think about empire and America’s global power. He did this not with weighty philosophical principles, but rather with a peculiar mix of mid-western charm and cosmopolitanism. In his book The Idealist: Wendell Willkie’s Wartime Quest To Build One World (Harvard University Press 2020), Professor Samuel Zipp of Brown University uses a 49 day drip that Willkie took around the world as an unofficial envoy to President Franklin Roosevelt to provide a new look at American culture and political thought during World War Two. Zipp's engrossing book will be of interest to not just historians, but anyone interested in understanding how ordinary Americans responded to the global changes in governance, politics, and culture that took place during these prewar and postwar years.
Steven P. Rodriguez is a PhD candidate in history at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the history of Latin American student migration to the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his twitter at @SPatrickRod.