nation among nations

nation among nations - T. Bender: A Nation Among Nations...

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T. Bender: A Nation Among Nations 2007-1-182 Bender, Thomas: A Nation Among Nations. America’s Place in World History . New York: Hill and Wang 2006. ISBN: 0-8090-9527-0; 368 S. Rezensiert von: Kiran Klaus Patel, Insti- tut für Geschichtswissenschaften, Humboldt- Universität zu Berlin, z.Zt. Minda de Gunz- burg Center for European Studies, Harvard University Thomas Bender’s book takes the American debate on transnational history to a new level: the quest for synthesis in a transnational per- spective. The basic idea of A Nation among Nations is to reframe U.S. history and especi- ally to reject „the territorial space of the nation as the sufficient context for a national histo- ry“ (p. ix). Instead of such a parochial view on the past, Bender widens the canvas of histori- cal inquiry. He emphasizes that every attempt to explain American history by American his- tory alone must remain incomplete. Ameri- can history, or more precisely U.S. history as the main focus of this book, should rather be understood and incorporated into global con- texts. While this may just read like the main idea of most books on transnational history, Bender’s book stands out for many reasons, as this review will try to show. Therefore, it would replicate the parochialism of an earlier age if it were only to be read by historians of American history. This volume forms – in an almost Hegelian sense – a synthesis of Bender’s oeuvre. Since the mid-1980s, Bender has criticized an im- portant characteristic of U.S. historiography: the fragmentation of narratives and the loss of synthesis. Especially since the 1960s, histori- cal topics and takes have exploded. As well as bringing about an „age of reinterpretation,“ 1 this development has also led to a high degree of specialization of academic historical inqui- ry. This tendency has not been counterbalan- ced by overarching syntheses with a broad ap- peal beyond the level of textbooks. There is, for example, no interpretation of U.S. history that would compare in length and quality to the works of, say, Thomas Nipperdey, Hans- Ulrich Wehler, or Heinrich August Winkler 1 Van Woodward, Comer, The Age of Reinterpretation, in: American Historical Review 66(1960), pp. 1-19. for modern German history. While some scho- lars praise this situation as perfectly appro- priate for a pluralistic, multi-cultural, or post- modern society, others such as Bender have bemoaned the loss of coherence. 2 Since the 1990s, Bender has engaged himself in a se- cond debate which might seem like the anti- thesis of the quest for a national synthesis: the attempt to transnationalize historical inquiry. He authored the La Pietra Report – itself the
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This note was uploaded on 02/03/2009 for the course HIST 200gm taught by Professor Shammas during the Fall '05 term at USC.

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nation among nations - T. Bender: A Nation Among Nations...

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