Friday, August 19, 2016

An Independent Empire -- the pitch

Michael Taylor and I are polishing up a truly marvelous history book, An Independent Empire: Diplomacy & War in the Making of the United States 1776-1826. We need an agent to sell it to a trade publisher. So, who out there can steer me to an agent? Contact Michael Kochin at

An Independent Empire tells the remarkable story of how politics, diplomacy, and war transformed a string of British colonies into one of the world’s great powers, the United States of America.

An Independent Empire is a history of the foreign relations of the early United States. The rapid transformation of the Thirteen Colonies into one of the great powers of the Atlantic world ought to be understood as the function of the foreign policies, diplomacy, and military prowess of the early United States. We also explore how the development of a national, federal government allowed the new republic to pursue those policies. We further address a series of questions which have as much relevance to the early history of the United States as to its current politics. Should the United States pursue an interventionist or an isolationist foreign policy? Should formal international alliances be renewed or abandoned? Should commerce be globalized or nationalized? These topics have never been more relevant, yet these were also the debates which shaped and directed American foreign relations between 1776 and 1826.

We have written An Independent Empire with an educated, general readership in mind. The manuscript makes original arguments of scholarly value, but it not intended to gather dust on university shelves among academic monographs. For too long, histories of foreign policy and diplomacy have been reserved for specialists stuck in the ivory towers; conversely, An Independent Empire has been written to be read. The approach of An Independent Empire to the early history of the United States is also markedly different from other recently successful trade histories. Chernow’s Hamilton, Eliot Cohen’s Conquered into Liberty, and Heidler and Heidler’s Washington’s Circle, among others, have focused on particular people, episodes, or mere pieces of the larger picture. Our ambition is rather to present the whole sweep of the American Empire before the general reader.

The manuscript is structured chronologically with each chapter – of between five and eight thousand words in length – focusing on short periods of United States history. Each chapter is then sub-divided into several sections which focus on the specific events, debates, and characters relevant to the respective historical period. We feel that this structure allows the reader not only to follow the compelling narrative of our subject, but also to “dip in” to specific parts of the history of American war and diplomacy. With our general readership in mind, we have been anxious to avoid academic jargon and impenetrable prose, and so we have written the manuscript using clear, elegant, and accessible language. We have now completed the third draft, which is about 107,000 words.

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