Grand Improvisation: America Confronts the British Superpower, 1945-1957 | Wilson Center
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Grand Improvisation: America Confronts the British Superpower, 1945-1957

The British Empire remained a superpower—certainly by the original definition of 1944—at least until 1957 when the reelected Eisenhower administration asserted what it called “a declaration of independence” from British authority. The years in between are freighted with myths: Britain’s “withdrawal from the eastern Mediterranean” in 1947; George Kennan’s competence; the making of America’s Vietnam; US policy to Israel-Palestine, etc.  Knowing what occurred is vital to understanding questions of US insularity, Middle East destabilization, policy-making delusions, and the rise and decline of superpowers. 

Derek Leebaert’s other books include Magic and Mayhem: The Delusions of American Foreign Policy from Korea to Afghanistan, To Dare and to Conquer: Special Operations and the Destiny of Nations from Achilles to Al Qaeda, and The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Shapes Our World.  He is a former Smithsonian Fellow, a founding editor of International Security, and a founder of the National Museum of the U.S. Army.  He’s a partner in the global management consulting firm MAP AG (Zurich). 

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest and the George Washington University History Department for their support.