Peter Beinart's provocative account of hubris in the American
century describes Washington on the eve of three wars: World War I,
Vietnam, and Iraq--three moments when American leaders decided they
could remake the world in their image. Each time, leading
intellectuals declared that the spread of democracy was inevitable.
Each time, a president held the nation in the palm of his hand. And
each time, a war conceived in arrogance brought tragedy.
But each catastrophe also imparted wisdom to a new generation of
thinkers. These leaders learned to reconcile the American belief
that anything is possible with the realities of a world that will
never fully conform to this country's will--and in their struggles
lie the seeds of American renewal today.
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