The Dictator of the World

“E avanti a lui, tremava tutta Roma!”

—Victorien Sardou, Luigi Illica, and Guiseppe Giacosa, Tosca

At the time of its publication in 1984, John Lukacs’s Outgrowing Democracy: A History of the United States in the Twentieth Century was recognized by discerning critics as a highly significant work combining a fresh originality, at once topical and historical, with the elements of truth and understanding from which an interpretive classic is made.  Now reissued in revised edition 20 years later, the book carries a new title—owing, the author tells us, to his dissatisfaction with the original one.  “What my [present] title attempts to suggest,” Lukacs explains,

is that during the twentieth century (and perhaps especially during its second half) profound, grave—and often not too well recognized—changes have occurred in the conditions of the American state and of American life, on many different levels.  These mutations have been less obvious, and less visible and less spectacular, than the great changes during the nineteenth century (the westward movement of the American state and of the American people; the Civil War; and mass immigration from Europe and Russia), but their consequences may have been at least as important and as enduring as those of the century...

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