BH 728, (812) 855-1602
- B.A., Indiana University, 1981
- Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1993
Region of Interest
- United States
- Diplomatic history
- Modernization theory
- U.S.-Asian relations
I am a historian of United States foreign relations specializing in the history of intelligence, development, and nation-building. The United States uses aid, covert operations, diet, statistics, and technology to reconstruct the social reality of countries around the world, and I am interested in these subtle mechanisms of power. My most recent book The Hungry World (2010), explores the use of food as a tool of psychological warfare and regime change during the Cold War. My first book, Illusions of Influence (1994), described the process through which a former American colony negotiated its conditional independence. In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency developed a capacity to replace unsuitable governments, elected or otherwise, as I show in Secret History (2006).
Right now, I am investigating the early history of the CIA, and asking why a country so committed to pluralism and the marketplace of ideas staked its security on the novel notion of central intelligence. Putting vital information under control of a single authority has never fit comfortably with democratic ideals, and in a perennial political ritual, the “intelligence failure,” Americans question and reaffirm the CIA compromise. My current project, First Line of Defense, follows this debate from 1947 to the present day.
- The Hungry World: America’s Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia. Harvard, 2010.
- Of the People. Co-authored with James Oakes, Jan Lewis, Jeanne Boydston, and Michael McGerr. Oxford, 2010.
- Secret History: The CIA's Classified Account of its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2006.
- Illusions of Influence: The Political Economy of United States-Philippines Relations, 1942-1960. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994.
- "The Foreign Policy of the Calorie," American Historical Review 122 (April 2007) 2: 337-364
- “Miracles of Modernization: The Green Revolution and the Apotheosis of Technology,” Diplomatic History 28 (April 2004) 2: 227-254.
- “Damming Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State,” Journal of American History 89 (September 2002) 2: 512-537. Reprinted in History and September 11th, edited by Joanne Meyerowitz. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003. pp. 22-55.