Imperialism, in its most precise traditional usage, means the forcible extension of governmental control over foreign areas not designated for incorporation as integral parts of the nation. The term is commonly used to mean any significant degree of national influence, public or private, over other societies; but to some it refers principally to foreign economic exploitation with or without other actions. In all usages, however, the essential element is that one society must in some way impose itself upon another in a continuing unequal relationship. Thus, American expansionism dated from the beginning of the national experience, while its evolution into true imperialism occurred only in the later nineteenth century.
Gienow-Hecht, Jessica C. E. "Shame on US? Academics, Cultural Transfer, and the Cold War—A Critical Review." Diplomatic History 24 (summer 2000). Traces the evolving debate about U.S. cultural expansion since 1945.
Healy, David. U.S. Expansionism: The Imperialist Urge in the 1890s. Madison, Wis., 1970. A multi-causal approach that shows the convergence of numerous and dissimilar forces in the movement for overseas empire.
Hollander, Paul. Anti-Americanism: Critiques at Home and Abroad, 1965–1990. New York, 1992. A stimulating look at the views of the naysayers, domestic and foreign.
LaFeber, Walter. The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898. Ithaca, N.Y., 1963. Depicts American overseas expansion as creating a commercial empire in order to serve a drive for export markets.
Lundestad, Geir. The American "Empire" and Other Studies of U.S. Foreign Policy in a Comparative Prospect. New York, 1990. Explores the ambiguities of American power abroad.
May, Ernest R. Imperial Democracy: The Emergence of America as a Great Power. New York, 1961. Sees the expansionism of 1898 in terms of an eruption of public opinion that swept the nation's leaders before it.
Rosenberg, Emily S. Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890–1945. New York, 1982. A useful broad-gauge approach.
Thornton, A. P. Doctrines of Imperialism. New York, 1965. A short but good conceptual study of imperialism.
Trask, David. The War with Spain in 1898. New York and London, 1981. The best work on that conflict.
Weinberg, Albert K. Manifest Destiny: A Study of Nationalist Expansionism in American History. Baltimore, 1935. Still a standard work on the ideology of continental expansion.
Williams, William Appleman. The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. Cleveland, Ohio, 1959. An influential book that helped launch a revisionist movement in American diplomatic history and popularize an "Open Door School," which held that the economic goals of capitalism were central to the formation of U.S. foreign policy.
See also Anti-Imperialism ; Colonialism and Neocolonialism ; Continental Expansion ; Dollar Diplomacy ; Economic Policy and Theory ; Intervention and Nonintervention ; Isolationism ; Mandates and Trusteeships ; Open Door Policy ; Protectorates and Spheres of Influence .