How the idea of the West drove twentieth-century US foreign policy, how it fell from favor, and why it is worth saving
Throughout the twentieth century, many Americans saw themselves as part of Western civilization, and Western ideals of liberty and self-government guided American diplomacy. But today, other ideas fill this role: on one side, a technocratic “liberal international order,” and on the other, the illiberal nationalism of “America First.”
In The Abandonment of the West, historian Michael Kimmage shows how the West became the dominant idea in US foreign policy in the first half of the twentieth century — and how that consensus has unraveled. We must revive the West, he argues, to counter authoritarian challenges from Russia and China. This is an urgent portrait of modern America’s complicated origins, its emergence as a superpower, and the crossroads at which it now stands.