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Home Alone?

Historically, America has never felt at home abroad. So says Henry R. Nau, professor of political science and international affairs at GW, in At Home Abroad: Identity and Power in American Foreign Policy (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y., 2002). He points out that the nation cycles between “booms” of internationalism and nation building and “busts” of nationalism and unilateral policies. Our reason for this ambivalence is America’s divided identity, Nau asserts.

One half of America’s identity is nationalist, proud of America, and distrustful of other nations and international institutions, according to Nau, while the other half is internationalist, confident of America’s universalistic values, and eager to bring all nations into the embrace of global institutions and law. When America is threatened, the two halves pull together. But once the threat recedes, the halves pull apart. American internationalists want to attack the roots of terrorism and rebuild failed nations, while nationalists want to smash the terrorist infrastructure and then retreat to homeland security, including national missile defenses.

However, Nau argues, America’s divided identity is obsolete. Today, America should feel both less estranged from democratic countries and less impatient to reform non-democratic states. Its true political identity calls for a strong partnership with other industrial democracies so that it can stay engaged in world affairs on a sustained and more cost-effective basis.

Experts have praised the book. George P. Shultz wrote, “Henry Nau provides a carefully thought framework of ideas and shows us how to use that framework.” And Joseph Nye, dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, praises Nau for showing that “...ideas are as important as mere possession of power in determining the national interest. He has produced a creative and original roadmap for American foreign policy in the global information age that has succeeded the Cold War.”


Change is a frequent cause of stress in the work lives of Americans, a fact well known to Distinguished Research Professor in the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science Howard Eisner.

A GW graduate (DSc ’66) as well as a faculty member in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering since 1989, his book, Reengineering Yourself and Your Company (Artech House, Boston, 2000), draws on his 30-year earlier career in industry, during which he made the journey from engineer to manager to president of two systems and software companies. Eisner brings alive for readers the enjoyable—and stressful—details of such a journey to the top. This on-the-job training background becomes valuable as Eisner highlights possible mistakes and provides a roadmap for avoiding many of them. And, the writing takes into account the observations of others, thereby expanding the book’s perspectives.

According to Eisner, the one of the books central themes involves both personal and corporate change. Change, he believes, is inevitable—particularly in high-tech settings. Eisner’s book highlights predictions from experts on what to expect in the future, but it also counsels flexibility since no one can know for sure what changes are coming, or when.

For those aspiring to corporate leadership roles whose academic backgrounds is solely technical (as in the case of Eisner’s three engineering degrees), he provides some useful insights as to how to make that journey from technical expert to leader, counseling a step-by-step approach. He also observes that the road taken and its ultimate destination depend a great deal on an individual’s basic talents, ambitions, and inclinations.

Closeted No More

The twentieth century bears witness to an unprecedented upsurge in the numbers of individuals across the country who, for the first time, identified themselves as homosexuals. Words such as “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and “transgender” began to dot what was previously believed to be an almost uniformly heterosexual landscape, complicating what we consider to be “the norm.” The history of homosexual presence and the strides the gay community has taken in securing political rights are documented in the personal stories and essays in Modern American Queer History (Temple University Press, 2001), edited by GW Research Professor of History Allida M. Black.

Personal narratives, studies, and historical essays come together in an effort to document the countless number of Americans who have struggled to make sense of seemingly abnormal sexual desires amidst a stubbornly heterosexual society and culture. The authors featured illuminate the ways in which individuals come to realize and communicate the truths of their sexuality. Tracing the history of scientific and psychological analysis in understanding homosexuality, Modern American Queer History probes homosexuality from the viewpoints of the gay community, the media, and society. Authors featured in the compilation note that much historical documentation of that community is unrecorded as a result of a society laden with homophobia. Hence, the move to shed light on a repressed and overlooked history of homosexuality becomes difficult.

Paula Martinac, author of The Queerest Places: A Guide to Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites, recognized the book as “a bold effort to reconfigure the field of lesbian and gay history.” In an effort to raise awareness of gay American presence, Modern American Queer History seeks to engage the reader in a conscious consideration of sexual diversity in the historical landscape.

Sandy Holland and Lindsay Crawford

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