The Folly of Empire


Students will be introduced to a book written by John B. Judis entitled, The Folly of Empire: What George Bush Could Learn From Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. This book compares recent foreign policy to the foreign policies pursued by Roosevelt and Wilson. It also covers the history of US foreign policy from Washington to the present. By being introduced to a currently published book about history the students will gain more confidence in their ability to interpret and understand historical sources regardless of their size or subject matter. It is hoped that with this confidence students will learn to enjoy reading for their own personal development. 


How important is it for our national leaders to understand the lessons of the past? Is it possible for people to learn different lessons from the same historical event? 


  • Students will be introduced to the major issues surrounding US Foreign policy at the turn of the twentieth century. 
  • Students will gain an appreciation of reading for their own personal development. 
  • Students will learn to identify the bias of an author and be able to determine if they believe in all aspects of an author’s argument. 
  • Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the history of US foreign policy. 
  • Students will learn how to analyze current events through the lenses of past events. 
  • Students will be challenged with a source they have not been exposed to. 


Students will demonstrate an understanding of the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to Imperialism around 1898.

  • Students will identify the three main justifications of US Imperialism. 
  • Students will analyze the negative and positive effects of Imperialism on US cultural identity.   
  • Students will identify the factors that lead the US to leave behind its isolationist foreign policy.   


Introductory Activities

  • Teacher will hand out books to the students and instruct them to write their names in their new books.  Teacher will make it clear that these books now belong to the students to keep after the class ends. 
  • Class will read the front and back covers, and the table of contents.  Teacher will ask: Do you think the author has a bias?  If so what is the author’s bias? 

Guided Activities

  • Students will be given different sources found online that gives them information about the author. On the back of these sheets will be focus questions (attached) that the students will have to answer. Students should be brought to the media center or library to do research based on the Internet sources and questions.

Independent Activities

  • Students will work in groups to write a paper in which they will use evidence from their research to make an educated guess about the bias of the author.   


  • Teacher will grade the groups papers


  • Teacher will lead a discussion with students asking them; why is it so important to understand the bias of an author before you read book?