Colin Dueck’s thorough analysis of the foreign-policy views of Republican political leaders since World War II has two aspects. As history, it is informative, objective, and broadly useful. As political science, however — and typical of that academic discipline as a whole — it obscures more than it reveals.
Fortunately, the reader can focus on Dueck’s history. He presents a careful, detailed policy analysis of Republican presidents starting with Eisenhower, and includes leaders like Goldwater and Taft who significantly shaped party thinking even without winning the Oval Office. Dueck is, with one exception, generally laudatory of these figures, and his central conclusion is powerful: “The triumph of one foreign-policy type over another is crucially shaped by the president’s own choices.”