Empire Imagined

The Personality of American Power, Volume One

By Giselle Frances Donnelly

Subjects: European History, European Politics, American History, International Relations, Strategic Studies
Hardcover : 9781438489858, 286 pages, August 2022
Paperback : 9781438489841, 286 pages, February 2023

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Illustrations


1. A World Encompassed

2. Elizabethan Security Architecture

3. The Northern Rebellion

4. The Portugal Expedition

5. The Tyrone Rebellion

6. The Roanoke Colony

7. The Elizabethan Strategic Discourse

Postscript: A Personality of Power


Examines the deep roots of the American way of war.


The origins of the United States' distinct approach to war and military power are found in the colonial experience. Long before 1776 or 1619, Englishmen understood themselves to be a part of a larger, lost "British" empire that might disappear forever in the globe-girdling shadow of the Spanish Hapsburgs and their drive to extirpate Protestantism. A combination of geopolitical ambition and fear of Philip II propelled Elizabethan expansion into North America. During the queen's five decades on the throne, the British imperial impulse jelled into a distinct and widely shared strategic culture, anchored in a deeply held faith and political ideology that legitimized Tudor rule; increasingly centralized Tudor power across England, Scotland, and Ireland; forced attention to the continental European balance of power; and drew adventurers to explore the world and claim a toehold in North America. In Empire Imagined, Giselle Frances Donnelly traces the development of these enduring habits through a series of vignettes that reveal the interaction of a maturing strategic consensus and the contingencies inevitable in international politics and offers a unique perspective for understanding the current debate about America's role in the world.

Giselle Frances Donnelly is Senior Fellow in Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.


"A rich and eloquent account of American strategic culture as it developed from the founding of the colonial project. Empire Imagined will appeal to a general readership as well as academics with an interest in historical perspectives of international relations, questions of security and strategy, etc." — Martyn Frampton, Queen Mary University of London