Category Archives: Washington History Seminar

Sponsored jointly by the National History Center and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Washington History Seminar meets each week, January to May and September to December, on Monday afternoons at 4 o’clock at the Wilson Center. It aims to facilitate understanding of contemporary affairs in light of historical knowledge of all times and all places and from a variety of perspectives. For the latest schedule, please click on Spring 2012 Schedule. For more information on past speakers, topics, and videos, please click on Washington History Seminar Schedule.

2/22: Jonathan Schneer on “Ministers at War: Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet”

It seems impossible now to imagine Great Britain during World War Two being led by anyone other than Winston Churchill. It was not impossible at the time, however, as Jonathan Schneer will show in this presentation. Moreover, despite a legend to the contrary that has been burnished over many years, Churchill had to manage a War Cabinet most of whose members never ceased to snipe at one another and at him, even as they faced the common foe.

Jonathan Schneer is the modern British historian at Georgia Tech. He has written seven books, including London 1900: the Imperial Metropolis, The Thames: England’s River, and The Balfour Declaration: the Origins of Arab Israeli Conflict (which won a 2010 National Jewish Book Award and was declared a book of the year by the New Statesman and the Irish Times), as well as many articles, essays and reviews in scholarly and popular publications. His presentation at the Washington History Seminar will be based upon his most recent book, Ministers at War: Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet.

The seminar meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room, Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop.

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See www.nationalhistorycenter.org for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support. Reservations requested because of limited seating.

2/8: Elizabeth Borgwardt on “The Nuremberg Idea: Crimes against Humanity in History, Law & Politics”

“The Nuremberg Idea” offers a historically-informed answer to one of the key social theory questions of our time: How did “human rights” become a concept that even the most heinous regimes feel they need to buy into? In tackling this question through the vector of the term “crimes against humanity,” this history offers a new transdisciplinary analysis of how human rights norms are formed, transmitted, and sustained, both domestically and at the supra-national level. Nuremberg-infused ideas about accountability and sovereignty have unfolded throughout the postwar era, culminating in the United Nations’ official adoption of the doctrine of “the Responsibility to Protect” in 2005.

Liz Borgwardt specializes in the history of international law with a focus on human rights ideas and institutions. As associate professor of History at Washington University in St Louis, she also holds a courtesy appointment in Law. Her A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights, was published by Harvard University Press and has been recognized as the Best Book in the History of Ideas and the Best First Book in U.S. Foreign Relations by the Organization of American Historians and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, respectively. It is in its fourth printing. Borgwardt has earned History doctorate from Stanford, a JD from Harvard Law School, and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. She has held fellowships with Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and NYU, as well as a Fulbright with the University of Heidelberg and the Holocaust Memorial Museum. She recently served as the Richard and Ann Pozen Visiting Professor of Human Rights at theUniversity of Chicago. Her current project on crimes against humanity in history, law, and politics is under contract with Alfred A. Knopf.

The seminar meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room, Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop.

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See www.nationalhistorycenter.org for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.  Reservations requested because of limited seating.

2/1: David E. Hoffman on “The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal”

From 1979 until 1985, the CIA ran an immensely productive spy in the heart of the Soviet military-industrial complex in Moscow. Author David E. Hoffman will describe this singularly-important operation, based on declassified CIA cables and his new book, The Billion Dollar Spy, and argue that despite the many achievements of technology in espionage, human sources are still vital.

David E. Hoffman is a contributing editor at the Washington Post. He was pre­viously foreign editor, bureau chief in Jerusalem and Moscow, and White House correspon­dent. He is the author of The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Beytrayal (2015), The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy (2009) which won the Pulitzer Prize, and The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia (2002).

The seminar meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room, Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop.

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See www.nationalhistorycenter.org for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.  Reservations requested because of limited seating.