American Imperialism in the Image of Peer Gynt was first published in 1971. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
This is the life story of an economic historian whose distinguished career has included nine years of service as a United States government official in various capacities, both military and civilian, around the world. It is a revealing and often disturbing account, evoking in the author's mind, as he reflects on his own experiences and those of other American emissaries abroad, the image of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, who wandered over the earth thinking he was doing good, only to find when he returned home that both his virtues and his sins were so insignificant that his soul was scheduled by the buttonmolder to be cast into limbo in the form of a little lead button.
Professor Johnson's book is much more than an autobiography. From the vantage point of his experiences and observations he provides a critical evaluation of American efforts abroad. He discusses cultural factors that have shaped American preconceptions and attitudes over the last half century and attempts to explain why a generation of presumably well-equipped Americans has been singularly incapable of materializing the hopes and aspirations of both the American people and the world community.