The National History Center of the American Historical Association provides a venue in the nation's capital for all who care about the human past to make history an essential part of public conversations about current events and the shared futures of the United States and the wider world.

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Washington History Seminar

April 24th, 2014

April 28: James Graham Wilson: “The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev’s Adaptation, Reagan’s Engagement, and the End of the Cold War”

In this presentation to the Washington History Seminar based on his book, The Triumph of Improvisation, James Graham Wilson takes a long view of the end of the Cold War, from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to Operation Desert Storm. Wilson argues that adaptation, improvisation, and engagement by individuals in positions of power ended the specter […]

Washington History Seminar

April 17th, 2014

April 21: Hugh Wilford on “America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East”

The CIA has an almost diabolical reputation in the Arab world. Yet, in the early years of its existence, the 1940s and 1950s, the Agency was distinctly pro-Arab, lending its support to the leading Arab nationalist of the day, Gamal Nasser, and conducting an anti-Zionist publicity campaign at home in the U.S. Drawing on a […]

Washington History Seminar

April 2nd, 2014

April 7: Sophia Rosenfeld on “’Take Your Choice!’: Historical Reflections on the Act of Voting.”

The secret ballot is now considered the gold standard for fair elections around the globe.  However, in the aftermath of the American and French Revolutions, voting in secrecy held little immediate mass appeal in the US or Europe, and the secret ballot was used in combination with a wide variety of voting techniques.  The history […]

Washington History Seminar

March 27th, 2014

March 31: Sergey Radchenko: “An Unwanted Visionary: Gorbachev’s Unrealized Ambitions and the Soviets’ Retreat from Asia”

Sergey Radchenko will offer a fresh interpretation of Mikhail Gorbachev’s foreign policy by showing how the Soviet leader tried to reshape the international order through engagement with China and India, and why his vision for a Soviet-led Asia ultimately failed. Relying on newly declassified records from Russian, Chinese and other archives, he will discuss lost opportunities […]

Washington History Seminar

March 18th, 2014

March 24: Nancy Beck Young on Why We Fight: The Politics of World War II

The conventional wisdom suggests that moderates matter little.  In her new book, Why We Fight: Congress and the Politics of World War II, Nancy Beck Young proves otherwise. Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman faced a fractious Congress riven by hardcore ideologues, circumstances that empowered moderates—from both parties—to cut deals on economic but not social justice […]