It was Thomas Jefferson who envisioned the United States as a great 'empire of liberty.' In the first new one-volume history in two decades, David Reynolds takes Jefferson's phrase as a key to the saga of America - helping unlock both its grandeur and its paradoxes. He examines how the anti-empire of 1776 became the greatest superpower the world has seen, how the country that offered liberty and opportunity on a scale unmatched in Europe nevertheless founded its prosperity on the labour of black slaves and the dispossession of the Native Americans. He explains how these tensions between empire and liberty have often been resolved by faith - both the evangelical Protestantism that has energized U.S. politics since the foundation of the nation and the larger faith in American righteousness that has impelled the country's expansion. Reynolds' account is driven by a compelling argument which illuminates our contemporary world.