William Appleman Williams was one of America's greatest critics of US imperialism. The Contours of American History, first published in 1961, reached back to seventeenth-century British history to argue that the relationship between liberalism and empire was in effect a grand compromise, with expansion abroad containing class and race tensions at home. Coming as it did before the political explosions of the 1960s, Williams's message was a deeply heretical one, and yet the Modern Library ultimately chose Contours as one of the best 100 nfiction books of the 20th Century.
A former president of the Organization of American Historians, William Appleman Williams taught for many years at the University of Wisconsin and Oregon State University. His books include The Contours of American History, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, and Empire as a Way of Life.