Barrett, David M. 1951-

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Barrett, David M. 1951-


Born December 7, 1951, in Alexandria, LA; son of Edward J. and Frances Barrett. Education: University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1973, Ph.D., 1990; University of Essex, M.A., 1985.


Office—Department of Political Science, Villanova University, 262 St. Augustine Center, Villanova, PA 19085. E-mail—[email protected]


WLOI-Radio, La Porte, IN, news director, 1974; WNIT Public Television, South Bend, IN, public affairs director, 1975-84; University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, visiting assistant professor of political science, 1989-90; Villanova University, Villanova, PA, assistant professor of political science, 1990—. Democratic primary candidate for U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana's 3rd District, 1984.


American Political Science Association.


Zahm travel grant from University of Notre Dame, 1989; Moody grant, Lyndon Johnson Foundation, 1991; grant from American Political Science Association, 1994; Dirksen Congressional Research Center, 1994.


Uncertain Warriors: Lyndon Johnson and His Vietnam Advisers, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1993.

Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam Papers: A Documentary Collection, Texas A&M University Press (College Station, TX), 1997.

The CIA & Congress: The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2005.

Work represented in anthologies, including The Making of United States Foreign Policy, edited by John Dumbrell, St. Martin's, 1990; and The Executive Office of the President: A Reference History, edited by Harold Relyea, Greenwood Press, 1994. Contributor of articles and reviews to political science journals.


David M. Barrett once told CA: "After two years as a radio news director, I was the public affairs director for WNIT Public Television for eight years. In that capacity, I produced documentaries, moderated political debates, and (for six years) hosted and produced a nightly interview program. I occasionally contributed background information for use by The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour and appeared as a guest interviewer on William F. Buckley's Firing Line in January 1984. I conducted occasional interviews for two syndicated television series produced by Oblate Media, Golden Dome Productions, and the University of Notre Dame's Institute for International Peace Studies from 1988 to 1991. These were shown on the Vision cable television network.

"My chief research interests are the American presidency and American foreign policy. American government was my first field of concentration during graduate studies, and I have taught courses on the presidency, introductory American politics, the civil rights movement, and southern politics. Due to my interest in the domestic sources of American foreign policy, I also was trained in the field of international relations, and I have taught courses on U.S. defense and foreign policy, congressional oversight of intelligence agencies, and problems of post-Cold War international politics.

"My book Uncertain Warriors: Lyndon Johnson and His Vietnam Advisers presents a revisionist analysis of change over time in Vietnam War advisory interactions in the Johnson administration. It is based, in large part, on research conducted at a number of presidential and other archives, and on supplementary interviews with former administration officials. The analysis finds that there were significant changes in the range of advice and advisers surrounding President Johnson during the course of the war. In contrast to prevailing views of Johnson as a president largely closed off from dissenting anti-war views, it finds that distinctly diverse points of view were usually sought and listened to by Johnson. The analysis pays close attention to unofficial, but influential, advisers to the president.

"My book Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam Papers: A Documentary Collection brings together many of the most interesting and important documents relating the conversations and debates that went on in the White House among Johnson and his advisers. Most of these documents were formerly classified as ‘top secret’ and have only become available in recent years. They include transcripts of White House telephone conversations and notes of many meetings, plus diary entries and memoranda to and from the president.

"My current research looks into congressional oversight of the CIA in the early decades of the Cold War era. Especially, I am researching the interactions of Senator Richard Russell (D-Georgia), who was virtually a one-person overseer of the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s, and CIA leaders. I hope that this research will lead to published articles and a book."

In The CIA & Congress: The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy, Barrett looks at the ways in which the Central Intelligence Agency's intelligence-gathering abilities were overestimated at the height of the Cold War. The author points out that quite often the CIA's data proved false or misleading, and that the agency's leadership often acted to circumvent congressional oversight. On the other hand, Barrett explains, Congress often was quite willing to be led astray, accepting presidential assertions that matters concealed from the House and Senate were matters of national security and (in some cases) even supporting covert operations launched by the CIA without public knowledge. "This is a fascinating, scholarly appraisal," stated Karl Helicher in Library Journal. "Tensions were often inflamed because legislators were asked to support the CIA's covert operations with only limited knowledge due to necessary secrecy and because subsequently many of these actions ended in failure." "What Barrett's book shows clearly," declared Timothy W. Crawford in Perspectives on Political Science, "is that congressional overseers were not as detached, uninterested, uninformed, and therefore unimplicated in U.S. intelligence activities as we thought. Which means that the democratic moorings of early Cold War intelligence work ran deeper than we have tended, and perhaps preferred, to believe." "Barrett," concluded Lorraine M. Lees in the Historian, "has made a significant contribution to the history of the Cold War; to the cause of scholarly access to vital material; and to the current debate on intelligence, executive power, and democratic values."



Historian, summer, 2007, Lorraine M. Lees, review of The CIA & Congress: The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy, p. 318.

Library Journal, November 1, 2005, Karl Helicher, review of The CIA & Congress, p. 99.

Perspectives on Political Science, fall, 2006, Timothy W. Crawford, review of The CIA & Congress, p. 226.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2005, review of The CIA & Congress.


Foreign Affairs, (April 8, 2008), Stephen E. Ambrose, review of Uncertain Warriors: Lyndon Johnson and His Vietnam Advisers.

Villanova University Web site, (April 8, 2008), "David M. Barrett, Ph.D."

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Barrett, David M. 1951-

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