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Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual

October 29, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual


Author Daniel Bessner examines why and how a generation of intellectuals left the groves of academe to enter the corridors of power in the middle of the twentieth century. To do so, he examines the intellectual and career trajectory of Hans Speier, a sociologist exiled from Nazi Germany who in the United States became the founding chief of the Social Science Division of the RAND Corporation, the nation’s first—and most influential—national security think tank.

Daniel Bessner is the Anne H.H. and Kenneth B. Pyle Assistant Professor in American Foreign Policy in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual (Cornell, 2018). He is also co-editor, with Nicolas Guilhot, of The Decisionist Imagination: Sovereignty, Social Science, and Democracy in the 20th Century (Berghahn, 2019). His next book, The RAND Corporation: A History, is under advance contract with Princeton University Press. He has also written for The Washington PostForeign Affairs, and n+1, among other venues.

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.

Monday at 4:00 p.m.
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Boardroom
Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop


October 29, 2018
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW,
Washington, DC 20004 United States


National History Center and Partners