In this brave and necessary volume, Thomas Bender grapples with one of the most Herculean of tasks involved in internationalizing national histories: translating the theoretical sophistication, political charge, and detailed knowledge of specialists into synthetic treatments for a general audience. He brings to this task unmatched resources: not only his own scholarly expertise and experience teaching U.S. history but also several years directing NYU’s International Center for Advanced Studies and four summer conferences on the internationalization of American history in Florence. The result reads like a cross between a textbook and a polemic on the politics of method. Though marbled with the awkwardness of balancing these two goals, to Bender’s great credit the book is also a compelling, lively story.

The book takes up five themes central to many teachings of American history: exploration and discovery, the American Revolution, the Civil War, foreign policy, and Progressive...

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