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Historiography of American Foreign Policy History during the

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Kasper Rasmussen

on 14 February 2014

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Transcript of Historiography of American Foreign Policy History during the

Historiography of American Foreign Policy History during the Cold War
What is historiography?
Founding Fathers
Nationalist perspective - Samuel Flagg Bemis

Progressive historians - Charles Beard
Origins of the Cold War
Orthodoxy with sources?

Focused on state-to-state relations

Basic thesis is usually that both the U.S. and the USSR had a stake in the outbreak of the Cold War
State of the field today
New Cold War history from the late 1990s - opening of eastern archives - internationalization

Cultural turn and proliferation of topical focal points

Different perspectives on how to understand and interpret history
Different ways of "showing" history
Can change over time -
each generation writes its own history...
Nationalist perspective

State-to-state relations

Celebrating growth of American power

Beginnings of political realism
Intellectual background for U.S. policy

Domestic roots (esp. economic) of policy

Change and conflict
Orthodox/traditionalists: Soviet Union caused the Cold War (most prominent during the 1940s and 1950s)

Links to realist historians (George Kennan, Hans Morgenthau etc.) and links to Bemis and the nationalists

Prominent historians in this category: Arthur Schlesinger and Herbert Feis

Early writers, limited primary source material available
Revisionism: U.S. caused the outbreak of the Cold War (from the 1960s - heavily influenced by the Vietnam War)
Links to progressives

Prominent historians: William Appleman Williams and Lloyd Gardner

Limited source material
Prominent historians: John Lewis Gaddis, Geir Lundestad, Melvyn Leffler
Full transcript