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May 29

What Good Is Grand Strategy?: Power and Purpose in American Statecraft from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush

Grand strategy is one of the most widely used and abused concepts in the foreign policy lexicon. In his new book, Hal Brands explains why grand strategy is a concept that is so alluring – and so elusive – to those who make American statecraft. He explores what grand strategy is, why it is so essential, and why it is so hard to get right amid the turbulence of global affairs and the chaos of domestic politics. At a time when “grand strategy” is very much in vogue, Brands critically appraises just how feasible that endeavor really is.

Brands takes a historical approach to this subject, examining how four Presidents – Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush – and their administrations sought to “do” grand strategy at key inflection points in the history of modern U.S. foreign policy. As examples from the early Cold War to the Reagan years to the War on Terror demonstrate, grand strategy can be an immensely rewarding undertaking – but also one that is full of potential pitfalls on the long road between conception and implementation.

Hal Brands, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and History at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. He is an affiliate of the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy and serves on the Executive Board of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. Previously, he worked at the Institute for Defense Analyses outside of Washington, D.C. and has served as a member of the RAND Corporation Grand Strategy Advisory Board.

More About the Speakers

Hal Brands, Ph.D.

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Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D. Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D.

Distinguished Fellow Read More