A Faustian Foreign Policy from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush

Dreams of Perfectibility

A Faustian Foreign Policy from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush

Professor Joan Hoff’s A Faustian Foreign Policy: Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush critiques U.S. foreign policy during this period by showing how moralistic diplomacy has increasingly taken on Faustian overtones. As long as the ideological outcome of the Cold War remained in doubt, there was little reason for presidents or government decision makers to question the unethical aspects of U.S. relations with the rest of the world or the universal and exceptional nature of American values. September 11 allowed the United States to assert its exceptionalism and dominance more unilaterally than ever before.


"Joan Hoff is universally recognized as among our most distinguished and perceptive historians of the American presidency and US foreign policy. In A Faustian Foreign Policy from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush she has produced another perceptive, graceful and informative history that targets and explains the deadly combination that too often has led our nation astray: grand visions conceived in a myopic haze of American exceptionalism. It is a major achievement."
-Martin J. Sherwin, George Mason University; Co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, 2006 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography

“Joan Hoff has given us a superb critical analysis of post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy. But her book is most important in providing a powerful insight which has been missing from too much recent analysis: how that post-9/11 foreign policy catastrophe comes directly out of how Americans have been viewing and making their foreign policy over the past several centuries. The 17th-century American ‘City on a Hill’ exceptionalist belief (emphasized by Ronald Reagan), the religious Manifest Destiny of the 19th-century which climaxed in Civil War, and, above all, the haunting illusions of Woodrow Wilson’s export-democracy-to-the world -- all, as Hoff masterfully and succinctly explains, are absolutely necessary for us to understand if we are also to understand -- and correct -- post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy disasters.”
-Walter LaFeber, Tisch University Professor at Cornell University

“With customary insight and erudition, and passion to diagnose what ills the United States at this moment in time, Joan Hoff shows how blind faith in American exceptionalism has produced a century of foreign policy that perverted, and threatens to destroy, the nation’s values. That does not have to happen. Like no book since William Appleman William’s The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, Hoff’s study powerfully demonstrates that a better future for America (and the world) lies in coming to terms with the corrupt bargains of the past. By so doing, citizens and leaders together can recover their nation’s lost honor.”
-William O. Walker III, University of Toronto

“In this brilliant book, Joan Hoff deftly explores how the myth of unparalleled virtue has cloaked an increasingly sordid reality of U.S. foreign policy. If more Americans shared her wisdom, they would live in a better nation and a better world.”
-Lawrence S. Wittner, State University of New York, Albany; Editor of Peace Action

"Hoff bases this well-written narrative on solid research and a clear moral standpoint...The American public and its leaders--not only historians--should ponder this excellent, disturbing book."
The Historian, Richard T. Fry, Illinois College