Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Andrew Buchanan's "American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean During World War II"

Andrew Buchanan is a Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Vermont. He received his PhD and MA in History from Rutgers University, and earned his BA in Modern History from the University of Oxford. Buchanan has taught American history, global history, and various military history courses. He has published articles on various aspects of the diplomatic, military, and cultural history of World War II in publications including the Journal of Contemporary History, Diplomacy and Statecraft, the Journal of Transatlantic Studies, and Global War Studies.

Buchanan applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean during World War II, and reported the following:
Half of my page 99 is occupied by a picture—one of several throughout the book, many reproduced for the first time, that help to bring this work of political, military and economic history to life. In this case, it features a dinner hosted by President Roosevelt for the Sultan of Morocco during the Anglo-American conference at Casablanca in January 1943. The Sultan was not included in the conference, but Roosevelt took advantage of his visit to the country to offer the Moroccan leader what appeared to be promises of American support for his country’s independence. At best, however, the President’s words were ambiguous: while pledging U.S. support for eventual Moroccan independence, both Roosevelt and his advisers worked to assure French officials of their support for ongoing colonial rule. An exploration of this contradiction, which saw Washington’s verbal endorsement of national self-determination matched by its actual backing for European imperial power, runs throughout this volume.

My book does much more than simply discuss this vexed issue: it situates it within a broader narrative of American power into the Mediterranean during World War II. The United States, I argue, developed a consistent orientation towards this critical region. Anyone familiar with conventional narratives of the war will immediately recognize the uniqueness of this approach. America is generally presented as a reluctant participant in the wartime Mediterranean, inveigled into the region by the wily British, and keen to escape as soon as possible. But for a power only begrudgingly engaged in the Mediterranean, the United States did remarkably well. By 1945, the Mediterranean was an American lake, and the predominance of U.S. military power was matched by increasing political and economic influence. In examining this multifaceted reality, my book offers a radical revision to long-predominant narratives of the war in the Mediterranean.
Read more about American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean during World War II at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue