You are cordially invited to a book lecture for
Nation Builder: John Quincy Adams and the Grand Strategy of the Republic
Charles N. Edel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Strategy and Policy
U.S. Naval War College
Friday, June 16
The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
About the book:
“America goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy”-John Quincy Adams’s famous words are often quoted to justify noninterference in other nations’ affairs. Yet when he spoke them, Adams was not advocating neutrality or passivity but rather outlining a national policy that balanced democratic idealism with a pragmatic understanding of the young republic’s capabilities and limitations. America’s rise from a confederation of revolutionary colonies to a world power is often treated as inevitable, but Charles N. Edel’s provocative biography of Adams argues that he served as the central architect of a grand strategy that shaped America’s rise. Adams’s particular combination of ideas and policies made him a critical link between the founding generation and the Civil War-era nation of Lincoln.
Examining Adams’s service as senator, diplomat, secretary of state, president, and congressman, Edel’s study of this extraordinary figure reveals a brilliant but stubborn man who was both visionary prophet and hard-nosed politician. Adams’s ambitions on behalf of America’s interests, combined with a shrewd understanding of how to counter the threats arrayed against them, allowed him to craft a multitiered policy to insulate the nation from European quarrels, expand U.S. territory, harness natural resources, develop domestic infrastructure, education, and commerce, and transform the United States into a model of progress and liberty respected throughout the world.
While Adams did not live to see all of his strategy fulfilled, his vision shaped the nation’s agenda for decades afterward and continues to resonate as America pursues its place in the twenty-first-century world.
About the author:
Dr. Charles Edel is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Policy at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he focuses on grand strategy, American political history, and security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. He recently returned to Newport from the Policy Planning Staff of the U.S. Department of State. In that role, he was a strategic advisor to the Secretary of State on North East Asia, the South China Sea, and the Western Pacific region. Charles holds a Ph.D. in History from Yale University, and received a B.A. in Classics from Yale College. He worked at Peking University’s Center for International and Strategic Studies as a Henry Luce Scholar and was also awarded the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship. Previously, he served in various roles in the U.S. government as a political and counterterrorism analyst, worked as a research associate at the Council of Foreign Relations, and taught high school history in New York. An intelligence officer in the Naval Reserves, he is the author of Nation Builder: John Quincy Adams and the Grand Strategy of the Republic (Harvard University Press, 2014). Currently, he is working on a project about the role of foreign revolutions in American history.
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