The American Ascendancy

How the United States Gained and Wielded Global Dominance

By Michael H. Hunt

416 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 8 illus., 1 table, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5963-6
    Published: February 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7773-4
    Published: April 2007
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8341-9
    Published: April 2007

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Awards & distinctions

A 2007 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

A simple question lurks amid the considerable controversy created by recent U.S. policy: what road did Americans travel to reach their current global preeminence? Taking the long historical view, Michael Hunt demonstrates that wealth, confidence, and leadership were key elements to America's ascent. In an analytic narrative that illuminates the past rather than indulges in political triumphalism, he provides crucial insights into the country's problematic place in the world today.

Hunt charts America's rise to global power from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to a culminating multilayered dominance achieved in the mid-twentieth century that has led to unanticipated constraints and perplexities over the last several decades. Themes that figure prominently in his account include the rise of the American state and a nationalist ideology and the domestic effects and international spread of consumer society. He examines how the United States remade great power relations, fashioned limits for the third world, and shaped our current international economic and cultural order. Hunt concludes by addressing current issues, such as how durable American power really is and what options remain for America's future. His provocative exploration will engage anyone concerned about the fate of our republic.

About the Author

Michael H. Hunt is Everett H. Emerson Professor of History Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of nine previous books, including The World Transformed: 1945 to the Present; Lyndon Johnson's War: America's Cold War Crusade in Vietnam, 1945-1968; and Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy.

For more information about Michael H. Hunt, visit the Author Page.


"This engaging history of the United States' rise to global dominance explains how a weak and peripheral New World republic turned itself into the preeminent power of the twentieth century."--Foreign Affairs

"A masterly overview of America's rise to its current status. . . . Given this outstanding book's breadth--both its temporal scope and the issues covered--a brief review cannot do it justice."--Journal of American History

"Hunt writes with clarity and verve. . . . [This] should be on the desk of every candidate for national office."--American Historical Review

"A provocative book. . . . An impressively argued interpretation."--The International History Review

"Provides crucial insights into the nation’s controversial role in the world today and prospects for the durability of U.S. power."--Carolina Arts & Sciences

"Compact but still reasonably detailed as well as illuminating. . . . Traces the broad lines of the national experience placing them with knowledge and balance within the context of global transformations."--Ricerche di Storia Politica

Multimedia & Links

Visit Michael H. Hunt's website,

Read Michael H. Hunt's guest posts on the UNC Press blog.