Arc of Empire

America's Wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam

By Michael H. Hunt, Steven Levine

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 24 halftones, 6 maps, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1392-5
    Published: February 2014
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8256-6
    Published: March 2012
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4011-0
    Published: March 2012

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit

Awards & distinctions

A 2013 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Although conventionally treated as separate, America's four wars in Asia were actually phases in a sustained U.S. bid for regional dominance, according to Michael H. Hunt and Steven I. Levine. This effort unfolded as an imperial project in which military power and the imposition of America's political will were crucial. Devoting equal attention to Asian and American perspectives, the authors follow the long arc of conflict across seventy-five years from the Philippines through Japan and Korea to Vietnam, tracing along the way American ambition, ascendance, and ultimate defeat. They show how these wars are etched deeply in eastern Asia's politics and culture.

The authors encourage readers to confront the imperial pattern in U.S. history with implications for today's Middle Eastern conflicts. They also offer a deeper understanding of China's rise and Asia's place in today's world.

For instructors: An Online Instructor's Manual is available, with teaching tips for using Arc of Empire in graduate and undergraduate courses on America's wars in Asia. It includes lecture topics, chronologies, and sample discussion questions.

About the Authors

Michael H. Hunt is Emerson Professor of History Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author or editor of eleven books, including The American Ascendancy: How the United States Gained and Wielded Global Dominance and A Vietnam War Reader: A Documentary History from American and Vietnamese Perspectives.
For more information about Michael H. Hunt, visit the Author Page.

Steven Levine is research faculty associate in the Department of History at the University of Montana and author or editor of four books, including Anvil of Victory: The Communist Revolution in Manchuria, 1945-1948 and America's Wars in Asia: A Cultural Approach to History and Memory.
For more information about Steven Levine, visit the Author Page.


"Recommended for readers interested in current events and 20th-century history, especially military history and U.S.-Asia relations."--Library Journal

Arc of Empire’s propositions and conclusions are eloquently stated and for the most part, it seems to me, true. . . . [It] will add to the knowledge of older readers and enlighten younger ones.”--The New York Review of Books

“Required reading for advanced students of modern US history, and therefore a necessary purchase for all academic libraries. Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”--Choice

"A crisp, lively narrative sure to interest scholars in the field, their students, and the general public."--Journal of American History

“A powerful analysis of the American wars in eastern Asia that span the twentieth century.”--International Affairs

“[This] book should be illuminating and instructive to all who are concerned about U.S. overseas military involvement and its domestic and international ramifications.”--H-Empire Reviews

Multimedia & Links

Visit Michael H. Hunt's website,

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

Read Steven I. Levine's guest blog post at UNC Press blog.