Washington History Seminar

September 29th, 2014

Special WHS on October 3: Frank Costigliola on “The Kennan Diaries”

“The Kennan Diaries” reveals the personal life and the political, philosophical, and spiritual concerns of America’s most noted diplomat and foreign policy strategist, George F. Kennan. Edited by historian Frank Costigliola of the University of Connecticut, the volume is a landmark work of profound intellectual and emotional power. These never-before-published diaries offer a narrative of […]

September 23rd, 2014

September 29: Akira Iriye on “International Affairs and Transnational Relations”

Acclaimed Harvard historian Akira Iriye will reflect on the study of history today, examining recent historiographic trends and phenomena like “motion,” “interconnectedness,” and “hybridity” in an effort to move away from a Euro-centric approach. Iriye will explore the fascination with non-national entities and transnational relations, rather than with more conventional international affairs understood in the […]

September 16th, 2014

September 22: Malcolm Byrne on “Lessons of Iran-Contra: Behind the Scenes of Ronald Reagan’s Iran Gambit, 1985-86″

Based on intensive research into once-classified records, as well as interviews and other accounts from Americans, Iranians and Israelis, Malcolm Byrne’s new book Iran-Contra: Reagan’s Scandal and the Unchecked Abuse of Presidential Power (University Press of Kansas) reexamines the policies and attitudes that constituted the Iran-Contra affair.  In this talk, the author will revisit the […]

September 11th, 2014

September 15: Lisa Leff on “The Archive Thief: Zosa Szajkowski and the Salvaging of French Jewish History”

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Jewish historian Zosa Szajkowski stole tens of thousands of documents about Jews from French archives and sold them to libraries in the United States. To understand why he did it, Leff takes us into the “backstage” of the archives, and reveals the powerful ideological, economic and scientific forces that […]

August 15th, 2014

Washington History Seminar Fall 2014 Schedule

The National History Center of the American Historical Association is pleased to announce the Fall 2014 schedule for the Washington History Seminar. A joint venture of the National History Center and the Wilson Center, with support from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), the seminar is co-directed by Eric Arnesen of George Washington University and […]

May 6th, 2014

May 12: Thomas Sugrue on “Bankrupt: Detroit and the Future of Urban America”

Detroit is the largest American municipality to have declared bankruptcy. Leading urban historian Thomas Sugrue examines the roots of the city’s fiscal crisis, its implications for urban finance, pensions, and the future of American cities, and examines the opportunities and obstacles that Detroit faces in its efforts to restructure its local government, redevelop its downtown […]

April 30th, 2014

May 5: Thomas Boghardt on “Covert Legions: U.S. Army Intelligence and the Defense of Europe, 1944-1949″

As the Third Reich collapsed, Soviet forces moved deep into Central Europe, and the United States had to adjust rapidly to the new political landscape.  The intelligence services of the U.S. Army assumed a key role in informing Washington national security policy toward Europe during this critical period.  This presentation discusses the early Cold War […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]