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Time No Longer

Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Time No Longer
    Book Description:

    Americans cherish their national myths, some of which predate the country's founding. But the time for illusions, nostalgia, and grand ambition abroad has gone by, Patrick Smith observes in this original book. Americans are now faced with a choice between a mythical idea of themselves, their nation, and their global "mission," on the one hand, and on the other an idea of America that is rooted in historical consciousness. To cling to old myths will ensure America's decline, Smith warns. He demonstrates with deep historical insight why a fundamentally new perspective and self-image are essential if the United States is to find its place in the twenty-first century.

    In four illuminating essays, Smith discusses America's unusual (and dysfunctional) relation with history; the Spanish-American War and the roots of American imperial ambition; the Cold War years and the effects of fear and power on the American psyche; and the uneasy years from 9/11 to the present. Providing a new perspective on our nation's current dilemmas, Smith also offers hope for change through an embrace of authentic history.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19529-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION: Between Myth and History
    (pp. 1-16)

    Americans, by a long tradition, have been enduringly enamored of stories—tales as to whence they came and who had come before them. This is hardly a unique trait: All people have stories (of one kind or another), stories that tell them (one way or another) something about who they are.

    The Greeks had stories, famously enough, and etched them into the stars. The English had many grand stories once, too—stories of great civilizational accomplishment. But the ancient Greeks are gone, and the English, with history at their backs as if it were the wind, have overcome their love...

    (pp. 17-46)

    Myths are more or less universal to humankind. Although we often assume that societies leave myths behind as they advance, this is not necessarily so. The postulation is that an empirical or scientific consciousness pushes the mythical consciousness into the past. But there is no such equation. In some nations we may find this—the premodern giving way cleanly to the modern. But others, counter­intuitively, do the reverse: Japan became an extravagant maker of myths as it modernized in the nineteenth century. Still others simply cling to their myths, and neither science nor empirical thought has anything to do with...

    (pp. 47-90)

    There was a moment in Theodore Roosevelt’s life that was of epiphanic importance. It seems so, at least, according to a correspondent who witnessed it and to the many historians and biographers who have since drawn on the account Edward Marshall of theNew York Journalwrote afterward.

    It was June 24, 1898, Roosevelt’s third day in Cuba with his already-famous Rough Riders. They had come to a craggy ridgeline called Las Guásimas, behind which a few hundred Spanish troops had taken up a rear-guard position. With a detachment of American regulars ahead of him coming under heavy fire, Roosevelt...

    (pp. 91-144)

    Later on in his life, after all the fame and sorrow and controversy had come to him, Charles Lindbergh recalled his first flight in an airplane. It was April 9, 1922, and Lindbergh was a passenger in a two-seat biplane flying above the cornfields of Nebraska.

    “Trees became bushes, barns toys,” Lindbergh recalled three decades later. “Cows turned into rabbits as we climbed. I lose all conscious connection with the past. I live only in the moment in this strange, unmortal place, crowded with beauty, pierced with danger.”¹

    The transporting power of machines was much on people’s minds in the...

    (pp. 145-216)

    On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was in my study starting to write a syndicated column—a twice-a-week chore at that time. It was a balmy, comfortable Tuesday. We lived, then, on a small farm in rural Connecticut. If memory serves, I was planning to produce a commentary on Japanese politics.

    “Come quickly,” my wife called from the kitchen. “Something’s happened.” An urgency in her voice stirred me instantly.

    The kitchen was where the radio was, generally tuned to the national news station. We listened. The reporting was not altogether coherent—it could not be at that early,...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 217-230)
    (pp. 231-231)