'Liberty's Surest Guardian' tells of U.S. success, world impact

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Jeremi Suri, author of "Liberty's Surest Guardian" and distinguished professor in global leadership, history, and public policy, looks to America's history and various conflicts as a mechanism of nation building.

Photo Credit: Kiersten Holms | Daily Texan Staff

Renowned UT professor Jeremi Suri released a book Tuesday focusing on the principles of successful nation-building based on research that delves into U.S. history.

Suri joined the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the Department of History as a professor this fall. His book was titled “Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama.”

“The book is an effort to understand how Americans have sought to change the world, and one of my points is that we have sought to change the world by changing ourselves,” Suri said.

He said that his book includes an analysis of several factors that are involved in successful nation-building: partners, process, problem-solving, purpose and people.

“After examining history, [I found that] these are the five elements that contribute to more success rather than more failure, though they do not guarantee [success],” Suri said.

Suri said his analysis involved a consideration of crucial historical examples of nation-building by the United States, beginning with Reconstruction after the Civil War and American involvement in the Philippines, Germany, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“[The book] is structured based on specific historical cases, and it follows a chronological organization. One of the points I make is that each experience builds on the last,” Suri said.

Suri said that a great amount of research was involved in the development of “Liberty’s Surest Guardian.”

“The research involved a lot of reading about different conflicts and experiences and then doing a lot of archival work,” Suri said.

Suri also spoke about the impact he hopes the book will have.

“I really want young people to take seriously the fact that they can change the world and that they need to change the world,” he said.

He mentioned that his work as a professor was influential to his research and writing and that the book was greatly impacted by his experiences with students.

“Part of my book is about how Americans have changed the world — not always for the better,” Suri said. “Especially now, young people need to continue doing that.”

William Inboden, assistant professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, said that he believes Suri’s book will be instrumental in filling a gap in public policy.

“[In public policy issues,] policymakers’ first question is often ‘what can history tell us about this subject?’ All too often, there are not enough resources.” Inboden said.

Frank Gavin, associate professor in the Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs, said that Suri’s presence at UT will help to focus on valuable issues at the University.

“Suri’s work will be influential in the way that it concentrates on what has worked in the past in order to connect history to contemporary policy issues,” Gavin said.