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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Stanley Hoffmann’s long career in political science and international relations has been celebrated in several special issues of scholarly journals and a Festschrift.[2] It is important for a discipline to honor its greatest exponents. In Hoffmann’s case, that task has surely been accomplished. His students and close colleagues have collectively painted a rich portrait of the pioneering thinker, the politically engaged intellectual, the farsighted institution-builder, the inspiring teacher, and the generous and witty man. This H-Diplo/ISSF forum, “Stanley Hoffmann Now,” is different. Here, a diverse group of superb IR and international history scholars—Deniz Kuru, Kiran Klaus Patel, Tommaso Pavone, and Kamila Stullerova—describe how they are currently engaging with aspects of Hoffmann’s work to advance their own research agendas. Their deeply considered essays reveal how relevant Hoffmann’s work remains for cutting-edge IR research, whether the focus is on international theory, French and European affairs, or the state of the discipline. We look back in order to move forward.

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The United States is inexorably linked to the stain of white supremacy. It is a stain that has been difficult to erase despite multiple inflection points and opportunities to reckon with America’s racist past. The Reconstruction Era of 1865 to 1877 that followed the Civil War provided the first opportunity for the United States to achieve some semblance of racial equality, and witnessed the adoption of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. The passage of these amendments, on paper, banned slavery and gave citizenship and the right to vote to Black Americans. Other important laws were also adopted, such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) Act of 1871, which were deemed necessary by Congress given that the KKK was carrying out wanton acts of brutality to stifle measures to provide civil and political rights to Blacks. Vigilantism and acts of terrorism perpetrated upon the Black population that killed thousands in the United States post-Civil War made the paper advances, in the form of the Reconstruction Era Amendments and other laws (like the KKK Act), seem aspirational.

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Much of the scholarly debate about President Donald Trump’s foreign policy concentrated on whether he had renewed traditional U.S. skepticism of entangling alliances with European states. Jason Davidson’s America’s Entangling Alliances argues that such a view is inaccurate. The United States made alliances from its birth. And, in doing so, it secured important American interests over the past two hundred years.

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Since the dawn of the nuclear age, three distinct approaches to nuclear strategy – disarmament, denial, and deterrence – have waxed and waned in importance as guides to US doctrine and policy.[1] Although champions of each of these approaches sometimes defend their position as if it represented the one true religion, each of these strategies can be more or less effective and appropriate depending on the circumstances. As David A. Cooper suggests, changes in the strategic setting can vector US policymakers towards one of these strategies, despite the fact that the other two competing approaches never really fall completely outside the realm of policy debate or plausibility.

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After the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, demonstrations against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement broke out across the United States.[1] In response to the demonstrations, President Donald Trump sent federal police wearing camouflage and equipped with tactical gear to Portland, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and dozens of other cities—in some cases, over the explicit objections of local officials.[2] The protests, and the militarized police response to them, highlighted the extent to which police forces at both the local and federal level have adopted military weaponry, tactics, and organizational practices.

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In “Leaning on Legionnaires,” Elizabeth M.F. Grasmeder offers a much needed overview of the recruiting of legionnaires over the last two hundred years across the world. Along with providing an original dataset on state policies to enlist foreigners in their armed forces, a novel theoretical framework to think about the drivers of legionnaires recruiting, and an insightful case study on Nazi Germany during World War II, the author challenges common wisdom and academic thought on some fundamental characteristics of the state army.

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