Victor Bulmer-Thomas

Empire in Retreat

The Past, Present and Future of the United States

Yale University Press 2018

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network July 23, 2018 Charles Coutinho

A respected authority on 19th- and 20th-century Latin American and Caribbean History as well as a past Director at Chatham House, Victor Bulmer‑Thomas, CMG, OBE provides...

A respected authority on 19th- and 20th-century Latin American and Caribbean History as well as a past Director at Chatham House, Victor Bulmer‑Thomas, CMG, OBE provides the reader with a most unusual survey and view of the United States as an ‘empire’ in his book: Empire in Retreat: the Past, Present and Future of the United States (Yale University Press, 2018).  From its territorial conquests after its foundation, through its acquisition of hegemonic rule after 1945, to its current imperial ‘retreat’, the United States, Bulmer-Thomas argues has had a difficult relationship with the idea of itself as an ‘empire’. In this novel argument, Bulmer‑Thomas offers three definitions of empire—’territorial, informal, and institutional’ that he contends explains America’s past, present and he argues for a future in which the United States will no longer play an imperial role. Something that Bulmer-Thomas states does not necessarily mean national decline and may indeed ultimately strengthen the American nation‑state. At this crucial time in American history, Bulmer‑Thomas’s uniquely unorthodox perspective will be sure to garner wide attention from those looking for unusual perspectives on American history.


Charles Coutinho holds a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to [email protected].

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