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.

9/26: Niall Ferguson on “Kissinger”

No American statesman has been as revered and as reviled as Henry Kissinger. Once hailed as “Super-K”—the “indispensable man” whose advice has been sought by every president from Kennedy to Obama—he has also been hounded by conspiracy theorists, scouring his every “telcon” for evidence of Machiavellian malfeasance. Yet as Niall Ferguson shows in the first volume of his new biography, the idea of Kissinger as the ruthless arch-realist is based on a profound misunderstanding. Drawing not only on Kissinger’s hitherto closed private papers but also on documents from more than a hundred archives around the world, Ferguson argues that the true foundation of Kissinger’s thought is philosophical idealism—combined with history itself.  The first half of Kissinger’s life is usually skimmed over as a quintessential tale of American ascent: the Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Germany who made it to the White House. Ferguson shows that what Kissinger achieved before his unexpected appointment as Richard Nixon’s national security adviser was historically significant in its own right.

Niall Ferguson is one of the world’s most renowned historians. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash NexusEmpire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier,Civilization, The Great Degeneration, and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist. He is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His many awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.

9/17: DC-Area African American Studies Works-in-Progress Seminar

The next meeting of the DC-Area African American Studies Works-In-Progress Seminar is this Saturday, 17 Sept 2016.  The seminar will meet from 2-4:30 pm at the Teamsters’ Archive in George Washington University’s Gelman Library, 7th floor.

The paper under discussion will be:

  • Ana Lucia Araujo (Howard University) – “Reparations in the Civil Rights Era”
  • Jessica Levy (Johns Hopkins) – “Governing the ‘Black Power’ City: Leon H. Sullivan, Opportunities Industrialization Centers Inc., and the Rise of Black Empowerment”

For copies of the papers or more information, please contact Jay Driskell at drjaywdriskell@gmail.com.

9/19: Matthew Dallek on “Defenseless Under Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security”

Homeland security is often seen as a post-Sept. 11 development. Yet, in Defenseless Under the Night, Matthew Dallek traces its birth to an epic battle during World War II: Eleanor Roosevelt’s vision of a wartime New Deal was pitted against New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia’s campaign to militarize millions of civilians to keep Americans safe from air raids, chemical and biological attacks, spies, and even land invasion. Defenseless argues that Americans felt truly vulnerable for the first time not after 9/11 but during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Matthew Dallek (Ph.D., U.S. History, Columbia) is associate professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. His articles and reviews have appeared in the Washington Post, Politico, the Journal of Policy History, and numerous other scholarly and popular publications. He is also author of The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics and co-author of Inside Campaigns: Elections through the Eyes of Political Professionals (CQ/Sage).

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.