I have often reflected that through some stroke of good fortune I drifted rather aimlessly into a career that has been rewarding and immensely satisfying. As a student at Roanoke College, 1953-1957, I could have been a poster boy for the so-called Silent Generation: apolitical, devoid of ambition and sense of purpose, floating with an uncertain tide.  I did not seek out a career counsellor—I’m not sure we had them in those days. I didn’t explore different possibilities or talk to practitioners of various professions. I briefly considered law school, in part, I suspect, because that’s what other history majors were doing and when people asked me what I wanted to do with my life I had to tell them something. In my defense, I knew I would go into the military after graduation and that gave me reason not to think too seriously about a career.  Who knows, I might do twenty years in the service and retire at a young age.  Some of my classmates actually did that.

Continue reading

I have so enjoyed reading this series of articles in H-Diplo by diplomatic historians on how they came to this profession.  What particularly has fascinated me are the twists, turns, and chance that somewhat improbably led so many to rewarding careers in the study and teaching of the history of international affairs.  I certainly fall into this category.  I grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota, and was encouraged by my family to go to university.  However, it was hoped that this would lead me back to a management position in the local paper mill.  The school superintendent urged me to go to one of the state teachers’ colleges, but I had no intention of going into teaching at any level.  My church and Boy Scouts advisors, on the other hand, steered me to Carleton College, a small private liberal arts college in southern Minnesota, which proved a very broadening experience.

Continue reading

I have never been one for introspection.  I tend to look forward, not backward.  I suppose, however, that a career in international politics is a natural choice for me, given my own family history.  If not for World War II, my parents would not have met.  Then, global politics became a family affair, with relatives spread across the globe—in Russia, the Middle East, and Asia.  But I cannot say today how much that background made me what I am today.  For that matter, I am not sure whether there is much to learn positively from my haphazard intellectual path through academia.

Continue reading

This roundtable is a rarity, not for the H-Diplo/ISSF Roundtable Review series, of course, but for roundtables published in many journals and online fora; it begins with a serious, well-written book and continues with three serious, well-written, critical review essays.  There is not a clunker in the mix.  The complete package is a model for academic discourse.  Scholars and students alike can benefit from reading Benjamin Miller’s and Ziv Rubinovitz’s book and then engaging with its strengths and weaknesses with guidance provided by the H-Diplo/ISSF essays. This is especially pleasing because all four reviewers– Paul C. Avey, Mariya Grinberg, Ionut Popescu, and Hilde Eliassen Restad – have made original contributions to international relations scholarship in recent years.[1] It is appropriate because Miller has been an original and provocative voices throughout his career, producing excellent books including, among others, States, Nations and Great Powers: The Sources of Regional War and When Opponents Cooperate: Great Power Conflict and Collaboration in World Politics and Peace.

Continue reading

Military alliances are a crucial and much-studied aspect of world politics. They are also a defining feature of US grand strategy. During its tenure as the leading state in the international system, the United States has assembled an unprecedented network of security relationships that extend across the globe, including its multilateral alliance with other members of the North Atlantic community, its bilateral alliances in East Asia and Oceania, and its informal but close partnerships with states throughout the Middle East. Indeed, these security relationships are regularly cited as a unique source of advantage in competitions with major power rivals, as well as a potential source of vulnerability for a hegemon hoping to avoid overextension. Understanding why alliances emerge, what form they take, and the roles they play not only is of interest to academics, therefore, but is also at the center of current foreign policy debates over deepening versus downsizing Washington’s commitments.

Continue reading

Samuel Moyn raises many questions in his new, provocative book, Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War. The four reviews, by Anne Kornhauser, Jana K. Lipman, Tejasvi Nagaraja, and Scott D. Sagan, engage deeply, appreciatively, and critically with Moyn’s workFor Nagaraja the book’s key question is, “how the post-9/11 Forever War became so durable.”  Moyn asserts at the outset, “Endless war has become part of the way Americans live now” (4).

Continue reading

How did I become the American international and naval historian that I am?

I suppose it all began with stories.  Bible stories on Friday afternoons at the Catholic elementary school I attended.   Stories from the Book of Mormon that my grandmother told me. Stories depicted in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists’ murals at the Santa Monica Public Library where my parents parked me and my sister while they went grocery shopping. Stories discussed in my high school American history classes taught by women who held doctoral degrees in history and education.  And stories that unfolded in a much more sophisticated way in lectures by my Stanford history professors in the late 1950s.

Continue reading

n the beginning was a name: John “Jack” Lamberton, the twin of Hugh, and one of my mother’s four brothers. They grew up in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia in the 20s and 30s. Their father, Robert E. Lamberton, was the Republican mayor of Philadelphia at the time of his death in 1941. After Pearl Harbor, the twins took different paths. Hugh became an American Field Service ambulance driver, attached to the British Eighth Army as it slogged its way up the Italian peninsula from Salerno to Udine. Jack became a tanker with the Ninth Armored Division. In early November 1944, only days after the division had been deployed in Luxembourg, he was killed by artillery fire. My curiosity from an early age about the Second World War, and the world in which my parents’ generation had come of age, began, I suspect, when I fathomed that I’d been named for Uncle Jack. I had a name to live up to. Studying, and eventually writing, history was partly a tribute to him.

Continue reading

Born in 1902, a granddaughter of the banker Jacob Schiff—who bequeathed $1 million to each of his grandchildren—Dorothy never had to work to pay the rent.  Her family was part of the famed Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York and she appears as a young woman in a photograph published in Stephen Birmingham’s book so titled.[1]  But she rebelled against the family ethos, hated being dragged to Paris every year for new clothes.  After graduating from Wellesley, she found work as a journalist with the New York World.

Continue reading

In “Wargaming for International Relations Research,” Erik Lin-Greenberg, Reid Pauly, and Jacquelyn Schneider present wargames as a method for international relations research.[1] The article defines and differentiates wargames from other methods, provides guidance for using wargames for research, and concludes with an agenda for future study. The article is a generative work that provides a firm foundation upon which researchers can build methodologically and substantively. It raises far more questions than it answers, but that is not a limitation of the article. It is the hallmark of a major contribution.

Continue reading