- Professor, Department of History
- Professor, International Studies
- Editor, Diplomatic History
- A.B. at Indiana University, 1981
- Ph.D. at University of Virginia, 1993
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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.
- OAH Distinguished Lecturer
- Co-Editor, Diplomatic History
- Fulbright Fellow to Singapore and the Phillippines
- Diplomatic history
- Modernization theory
- U.S.-Asian relations
Courses Recently Taught
- "America's Nations": The military occupations of the United States
- The Vietnam War
- World War II
- US Foreign Relations in the Twentieth Century
- American Century Lives: The Twentieth Century in Biography
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.