Book review of America in the World: A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy by Robert B. Zoellick

This anachronistic modesty doesn’t, however, extend to the book’s aims. Zoellick wants to do more than entertain us with our past national glories. He seeks to reawaken a pragmatic tradition in U.S. diplomacy: realism leavened with, in his words, “the belief that the United States is an exceptional, ongoing experiment, both at home and in international relations, that should serve a larger purpose.”

Zoellick wants to buck the 2020 trend of offering Henry Kissinger, and his insistence on seeing the world as a dark place where leadership is the agile making of dark choices, as the model for our age. His critique is subtle, even anxious — he repeatedly gives the nonagenarian his due, and then some. Still, Zoellick wants to push Kissinger, and George Kennan along with him, ever so slightly aside in favor of a pragmatism that considers American ideals and then asks what is possible — a

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