What Became Of 'The American Century'?

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In February of 1941, Henry Luce announced the arrival of what he called "An American Century." Luce was the powerful publisher of Life Magazine, and his phrase caught on, and many people would eventually embrace his idea that America's great moment had arrived.

So what became of that American Century? Boston University historian Andrew Bacevich argues, it's over. That it promised much more than it delivered, and that Americans would do well to digest some of the century's difficult lessons.

Bacevich invited a number of distinguished historians to reflect upon those lessons. Their essays are collected in a new book, edited by Bacevich, called "The Short American Century, A Post-Mortem."

Bacevich says in that famous 1941 Life Magazine editorial, Henry Luce was pushing for America to get involved in World War II.

"He uses Life as a vehicle to express those views in the broadest terms," Bacevich said.

Andrew Bacevich and his fellow scholars will be reading from the new book tonight at 7 p.m. at the Brookline Booksmith.


  • Andrew Bacevich, Boston University historian

This segment aired on April 5, 2012.


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