The OUPblog has just posted a great reading list for scholars of the history of US foreign relations, in advance of the annual meeting of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). The list, some of which are below, includes blog posts, cutting-edge books, and the top five most-read Diplomatic History articles of 2015 (spoiler: one of them is mine). More than a few of the items on the list have an explicitly imperial history angle, including fresh-off-the-press books like Benjamin Coates’s Legalist Empire: International Law and American Foreign Relations in the Early Twentieth Century and Amanda Moniz’s From Empire to Humanity: The American Revolution and the Origins of Humanitarianism. Have a look!
Picks from Diplomatic History, the official journal of SHAFR
“Take Me to Havana! Airline Hijacking, U.S.–Cuba Relations, and Political Protest in Late Sixties’ America” by Teishan A. Latner
From 1968 to 1973, amidst a period of social upheaval, Cuba unwittingly became the world’s most popular place to land a hijacked plane. In five years, “skyjackers” made over 90 attempts to commandeer airplanes from the United States to Cuba. A majority of hijackers were American—from draft dodgers, to activists, to asylum-seekers, to petty criminals. They were drawn to an idealized image of Cuba as a revolutionary’s haven, which rejected capitalism and defied America’s global domination. The situation led to unprecedented diplomatic collaboration between America and Cuba as they crafted a mutual anti-hijacking agreement.
“Presidential Address: Structure, Contingency, and the War in Vietnam” by Fredrik Logevall
In his presidential address, Frederik Logevall traces the history of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations alongside the Vietnam War. Almost half a century ago, the society was founded in the throes of the Vietnam War. Today, they study the Vietnam War as history. An outpouring of scholarship reflecting on the war has been produced in the past several decades, but Logevall addresses one question: “How do we account for the reality [that] three American presidents… escalated and perpetuated a war in Southeast Asia that they privately suspected was neither winnable nor necessary?”
“Local People’s Global Politics: A Transnational History of the Hands Off Ethiopia Movement of 1935” by Joseph Fronczak
In 1935, a transnational social movement transformed the dynamics of global politics. When the Italian Fascist régime threatened to invade Ethiopia, leftists across the world leaped to the country’s defense. With the Hands Off Ethiopia campaign, the new “global left” utilized informal political practices, including mass meetings, street fights, riots, and strikes. Unled, unorganized, and unstructured, the group showed that common people could directly assert themselves in matters of international affairs. Though their antiwar efforts failed to prevent Ethiopia’s invasion, Hands Off Ethiopia created lasting effects on international history continuing beyond the postwar era.
“The Imperialism of Economic Nationalism, 1890–1913” by Marc-William Palen
Through his article, Palen looks to debunk a laissez-faire myth that revolutionized imperial studies. Since 1953, a theory that American imperialism surrounding turn-of-the-century foreign relations had a “free-trade character” has become popular. Palen argues that this revisionist interpretation has prevailed “despite the predominance of economic nationalism” during the time period. If the American Empire arose out of imperialism of economic nationalism, rather than imperialism of free trade, then how did this free-trade, open-door theory become such a steadfast fixture within US history?
“Embracing Regime Change in Iraq: American Foreign Policy and the 1963 Coup d’état in Baghdad” by Brandon Wolfe-Hunnicutt
Following a 1958 coup d’état in Iraq, the Middle East was in flux and American policymakers struggled to respond. They were divided into two camps: one accommodating faction believed that, through skillful diplomacy and a robust program of development assistance, the United States could convince the new regime to protect “Western interests.” Another interventionist faction worried that new leadership would destabilize order in the region, and hoped to restore a “reliable client regime” in Iraq instead. US policy vacillated between these two factions for five years, but eventually sided with the interventionists. The Kennedy administration pursued a regime change in the name of national security—but Wolfe-Hunnicutt suggests that interventionists’ warnings of a “Communist threat” in Iraq were actually a cover for more base motives.
Picks from our books
Your Country, My Country – Offers a chronological comparative history of both Canada and the United States, with new insights for readers on both sides of the border.
Executing the Rosenbergs – A look at the Rosenberg case from how it was reported and protested around the world. Citing never before used State Department documents that focus on the ways in which the Rosenberg case reflected America’s role in the world.
Legalist Empire – Shows the role of international lawyers in the making of American empire in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century.
Holocaust Angst – An account of attempts by German political actors to grapple with American Holocaust memory and reshape Germany’s public image abroad.