Bill, James A(lban) 1939-
BILL, James A(lban) 1939-
PERSONAL: Born March 2, 1939, in La Crosse, WI. Education: Assumption College, B.A., 1961 (class valedictorian); Pennsylvania State University, M.A., 1963; Princeton University, M.A., 1965, Ph.D., 1989.
CAREER: Political scientist, educator, and author. College of William and Mary, professor of government and director emeritus of Reves Center for International Studies. Formerly professor of government at University of Texas, Austin; visiting professor at Washington University, St. Louis, and University of Alaska, Anchorage; visiting distinguished professor at University of Delaware; lecturer on international issues at Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, University of Chicago, University of California, Los Angeles, and more than ninety other universities in the United States; has given lectures in Tokyo, Bonn, Toronto, London, Mexico City, Halifax, Tehran, Cairo, Jerusalem, Kuwait, Moscow, Abu Dhabi, and Dushanbe. Member of Overseers' Committee to Visit the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University.
MEMBER: American Political Science Association, Society for Iranian Studies.
AWARDS, HONORS: Honorary doctorate, Assumption College, 1989.
The Politics of Iran: Groups, Classes, and Modernization, C. E. Merrill (Columbus, OH), 1972.
Comparative Politics: The Quest for Theory, C. E. Merrill (Columbus, OH), 1973.
Politics and Petroleum, King's Court, 1975.
(With Robert Springborg) Politics in the Middle East, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1979.
(Editor, with William Roger Louis) Musaddiq, Iranian Nationalism, and Oil, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1988.
George Ball: Behind the U.S. Foreign Policy, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1997.
(With John Alden Williams) Roman Catholics and Shi'i Muslims: Prayer, Passion, and Politics, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2002.
Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Time, Newsweek, Fortune, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, and Science.
SIDELIGHTS: James A. Bill, a specialist in international studies, has traveled extensively in the Middle East and has devoted his career to the study of politics and society in that region. His focus is primarily on Iran, where he lived for two years during the 1960s and to which he returned for several visits through the 1970s. His four books on Iran have been welcomed as informative studies on a timely and important subject.
In The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations, Bill argues that U.S. policy toward Iran has been based on "pervasive ignorance." Seeing Iran as little more than a pawn in the Cold War, the United States failed to understand the nationalist forces building within the country and, by blindly supporting the unpopular shah, guaranteed the growth of a bitterly anti-American movement in the country. New Republic reviewer Alan Tonelson observed that "Bill makes a powerful case" that American policy blundered in Iran, but questioned whether a regionalist policy—one more attuned to the particularities of Iranian politics and society—would have succeeded any better. Jerrold D. Green of New Leader, however, found Bill's analysis well written and convincing, emphasizing his conclusion that policymakers should never maintain a narrow focus when responding to international crises.
Musaddiq, Iranian Nationalism, and Oil, a collection of scholarly essays which Bill coedited with William Roger Louis, examines the achievements of Muhammad Musaddiq, who served as premier of Iran from 1951 until his overthrow in 1953. Middle Eastern Studies contributor David Menashri hailed the book as a "highly valuable contribution shedding much light on one of the most controversial periods, and one of the most notable figures in twentieth-century Iran."
Bill's account of the career of diplomat George Ball, who served as presidential adviser, undersecretary of state, and ambassador to the United Nations under presidents Kennedy and Johnson, also attracted significant notice. Bill presents his subject as both pragmatic and idealistic, and shows how his handling of several international issues contributed in positive ways to American statecraft. "Bill rightly presents George Ball 'as a rare and realistic model of the prudent statesman,'" wrote Wilson D. Miscamble in History: Review of New Books. "This fine book should encourage policymakers of the present and the future to learn from his experience and example." Similar praise marked David C. Hendrickson's review in Foreign Affairs, where he commended the book as a convincing and "admirable" study, and James M. Scott's review for American Political Science Review, in which he hailed the book as a "first-rate piece of scholarship . . . that provides a useful biographical sketch of Ball and an often revealing glimpse of U.S. foreign policymaking." Though a writer for Publishers Weekly found George Ball almost too much in awe of its subject, the reviewer pointed out that the book "works well" in explaining the foundations of the U.S. foreign policy system.
Several of Bill's later books have tackled the subject of religion and culture. His Roman Catholics and Shi'i Muslims: Prayer, Passion, and Politics, cowritten with John Alden Williams, shows the significant similarities between the two faiths. Noting that the authors had chosen a difficult subject, Library Journal contributor Gary P. Gillum deemed the book a success, concluding that the authors "help us understand a much-maligned religion" and appreciate its common bonds with Catholicism.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, June, 1999, Jeffrey Kimball, review of George Ball, p. 949.
American Political Science Review, December, 1990, Shahrough Akhavi, review of The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations,p. 1417; September, 1999, James M. Scott, review of George Ball, p. 708.
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, July, 1998, Douglas Brinkley, review of George Ball: Behind the U.S. Foreign Policy, p. 225.
Asian Affairs, October, 1989, Desmond Harney, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 321.
Booklist, March 15, 1997, Mary Carroll, review of George Ball, p. 1222; February 15, 2002, Steven Schroeder, review of Roman Catholics and Shi'i Muslims: Prayer, Passion, and Politics, p. 973.
Diplomatic History, summer, 1990, Mark Lytle, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 461.
Foreign Affairs, summer, 1988, John C. Campbell, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 1134; May-June, 1997, David C. Hendrickson, review of George Ball, p. 133.
History: Review of New Books, fall, 1997, Wilson D. Miscamble, review of George Ball, p. 38.
History: The Journal of the Historical Association, June, 1989, Ritchie Ovendale, review of Musaddiq, Iranian Nationalism, and Oil, p. 266.
International Affairs, spring, 1989, Philip Robins, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 383.
International Journal of Middle East Studies, August, 1990, Said Amir Arjomand, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 335.
Journal of American Studies, April, 1999, Martin H. Folly, review of George Ball, p. 103.
Journal of Politics, February, 1989, Sanford R. Silverburg, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 198; May, 1998, Robert J. Bresler, review of George Ball, p. 583.
Library Journal, March 15, 1997, Edward Goedeken, review of George Ball, p. 75; March 1, 2002, Gary P. Gillum, review of Roman Catholics and Shi'i Muslims, p. 106.
Middle Eastern Studies, April, 1993, David Menashri, review of Musaddiq, Iranian Nationalism, and Oil, p. 360.
New Leader, May 2, 1988, Jerrold D. Green, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 20.
New Republic, August 1, 1988, Alan Tonelson, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 44.
New York Times Book Review, Fouad Ajami, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 3.
Publishers Weekly, January 27, 1997, review of George Ball, p. 89.
Times Higher Education Supplement, June 6, 1997, Susan Carruthers, review of George Ball, p. 25.
Wall Street Journal, April 18, 1988, Amos Perlmutter, review of The Eagle and the Lion, p. 20.
Washington Monthly, July-August, 1997, Robert Dallek, review of George Ball, p. 55.*