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American Historians and the Atlantic Alliance

Diplomatic Studies

For more than 40 years, the Atlantic Alliance has been the major U.S. foreign policy commitment of every administration.  Through political and military commitments to 11, and ultimately 15, other nations, the United States through NATO had abandoned an isolationist tradition of more than 150 years.  However, important as this step was, few historians of American foreign relations have given prominence to the alliance in their studies.  In this volume, produced from a conference sponsored by the U.S. delegation to NATO in 1989, seven American diplomatic historians focus their attention (some for the first time) on the role of NATO in periods of their specialization in the post—World War II years.

In almost all these essays, newly released materials in presidential libraries and in the National Archives have been used.  The result is a history of the past 40 years of NATO from an American perspective, placing the alliance within the larger frame of America’s foreign policy as a superpower.  The historians’ interpretations benefit from their intimacy with cognate issues on which each has written over the years.  Whatever their individual interpretations, each reveals the important role.  NATO has played in fashioning the “American Century.”