Gaddis, John Lewis 1941-
Gaddis, John Lewis 1941-
Born April 2, 1941, in Cotulla, TX; son of Harry P. and Isabel M. Gaddis; married Barbara Sue Jackson, September 4, 1965 (divorced); married Toni Dorfman, November 2, 1997; children: John Michael, David Matthew. Education: University of Texas at Austin, B.A., 1963, M.A., 1965, Ph.D., 1968.
Historian, scholar, educator, writer, and editor. Indiana University Southeast, Jeffersonville, assistant professor, 1968-69; Ohio University, Athens, assistant professor, 1969-71, associate professor, 1971-76, professor, 1976-83, distinguished professor of history, 1983-97, Contemporary History Institute, director, 1987-93, John and Elizabeth Baker Peace Studies Program, director, 1993-96; Yale University, New Haven, CT, Robert Lovett Professor of History, 1997—. Also U.S. Naval War College, visiting professor of strategy, 1975-77; University of Helsinki, Bicentennial Professor of American history, 1980-81; Princeton University, visiting professor of politics, 1987; Oxford University, Harmsworth Professor of American History, 1992-93, George Eastman visiting professor, 2000-01. Foreign Policy Association Editorial Advisory Committee, 1980-88; Department of State Advisory Committee on Historical Documentation, 1982-84; Central Intelligence Agency, Historical Advisory Committee, 1985-96; Social Science Research Council, Committee on International Peace and Security Studies, 1985-89; International Research and Exchanges Board, History Subcommission, 1985-89; Los Alamos National Laboratories, Center for National Security Studies Advisory Committee, 1990-92; Council on Foreign Relations/Pew Foundation Task Force on American Security in a Changing World, 1991-92; Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Project on the International History of the Cold War Advisory Committee, chair, 1991-93; Norwegian Nobel Institute, visiting fellow, 1995; American Committee on U.S.-Soviet Relations.
Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (member of council, 1973-77, 1991-95; editorial board, 1983-86; vice president, 1991; president, 1992), American Society for the History of the Second World War (board of directors, 1976-78, 1984-86), American Historical Association (nominating committee, 1983-86), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Committee on International Security Studies, 1985-90; elected as fellow, 1995), Organization of American Historians, Society of American Historians.
Bancroft Prize, Columbia University, and Stuart L. Bernath Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, both 1973, both for The United States and the Origins of the Cold War: 1941-1947; National Historical Society prize, 1973; National Endowment for the Humanities independent study and research fellowship, 1977-78; American Council of Learned Societies grant-in-aid, 1981; Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, 1986-87; Whitney H. Shepardson fellowship, Council on Foreign Relations, 1994; Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars fellowship, 1995-96; Phi Beta Kappa William Clyde DeVane Award, Yale College, for undergraduate teaching, 2003.
(Editor, with Thomas H. Etzold) Containment: Documents on American Policy and Strategy, 1945-1950, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1978.
(Editor, with Terry L. Deibel) Containment: Concept and Policy, Volume 2, National Defense University Press (Washington, DC), 1986.
The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1987.
(Editor, with Terry L. Deibel) Containing the Soviet Union: A Critique of U.S. Policy, Pergamon-Brassey's International Defense Publishers (Washington, DC), 1987.
Nuclear Weapons and International Systemic Stability, International Security Studies Program, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Cambridge, MA), 1990.
The United States and the End of the Cold War: Reconsiderations, Implications, Provocations, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1992.
We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.
(Editor, with others) Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy since 1945, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
(Editor, with Rosemary Foot and Andrew Hurrell) Order and Justice in International Relations, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
The Cold War: A New History, Penguin Press (New York, NY), 2005, published in England as The Cold War, Allen Lane (London, England), 2006.
Contributor of articles and scholarly essays to numerous collections and journals; contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including the New York Times Book Review.
"In the spectrum of historians writing about the Cold War, John Lewis Gaddis belongs in the category of post-revisionists," wrote Commentary contributor Donald Kagan. The critic explained that while early analyses of superpower relations first focused on Soviet and then American responsibility for perpetuating the Cold War, Gaddis, "one of the first post-revisionists … [and] one of the ablest and most influential," is part of "a newly emerging consensus that seems to take an impartial position." Fareed Zakaria observed in the New Republic that Gaddis has "quickly garnered a reputation for thoroughness, writing with more balance and nuance than most of his predecessors."
"Constantly in the midst of the international community of scholars writing on the last half century's history," commented Robert L. Beisner in Washington Post Book World, Gaddis "is not only au courant but always eager to tackle the toughest questions of all. Gaddis's very first book, published just when both America's diplomatic and historiographic consensus had crumbled, provided nothing less than a definitive account of Moscow's and Washington's roles in setting off the Cold War—The United States and the Origins of the Cold War: 1941-1947."
In Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy, "Gaddis picks his way with precision, good judgment, and wit, to produce the most balanced and clear-eyed account to date of the Cold War," wrote R.W. Winks in Library Journal. The analysis, according to Washington Post Book World contributor Carl Kaysen, "offers us a neatly schematic view of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Second World War." Kaysen went on to write that Gaddis sees "the Soviet Union's drive to expand its power and influence as the central problem for American foreign policy," adding: "Analysis of our responses and their fluctuations over time form the substance of his study." The author theorizes that the United States has always followed a policy of "containment," but in two different fashions: symmetrical, where Soviet political moves are matched at all points; and asymmetrical, where different situations are assigned importance and then dealt with selectively. "What is important, says Mr. Gaddis, is that the oscillations in the United States' policy toward the Soviet Union have had their origins in our domestic politics more often than in changes in Soviet behavior," wrote Joseph S. Nye in the New York Times Book Review. The author concludes, as Nye described it, "that wavering between types of contain- ment will not serve our interests in coping with a stronger Soviet Union."
While he found Strategies of Containment "coherent, clearly written, and carefully argued," Kaysen commented that "the great shortcoming is that the book is not what it claims to be." The critic wrote that "it is actually an analytical history of doctrines, not of strategies: what presidents, secretaries of state and other officials said, rather than what the country did, is the focus of Gaddis's efforts." New Republic contributor Barry Rubin, however, remarked that Gaddis's work "provides a good starting point for [debate over current crises]. It presents a judicious and balanced view of the ways in which U.S. security policy … developed." Like the author's previous studies, commented the critic, "this new volume is a superb synthesis of the latest scholarship and documentary evidence."
The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War collects many of Gaddis's writings on the subject of modern U.S. foreign relations. "Without ever drawing attention to himself with any of the fireworks of a ‘stylist,’" stated Beisner, "Gaddis writes superbly well, no mean task when mixing narrative, analysis, personal reflection, and advocacy." "Though an energetic and imaginative researcher undaunted by days in dusty archives," continued the critic, "Gaddis's powers of synthesis are, as ever, most impressive of all." Because of the availability of evidence, the author "focuses on American foreign policy-making," wrote Zakaria. "The essays dealing with the origins of the Cold War are the best ones in the book. Each begins with a puzzle posed by traditional explanations and solves it by taking the reader on a journey inside the American policy-making process." New York Times Book Review contributor Charles S. Maier, who called Gaddis "an intelligent historian … [who] combines theoretical reflection with a deep knowledge of the massive American archives," similarly observed that "Mr. Gaddis's most striking pieces explore often overlooked policy debates to reveal how the varying claims were adjudicated and how moderation came to prevail." Maier also suggested that while the essays in The Long Peace were written separately, "they constitute a unified history of the cold war, not as a mobilization of political ideologies, but as a strategic competition."
Kagan, however, while he also found Gaddis "a sober and hard-working professional," faulted the author's treatment of his subject, which focuses on each side equally without looking at their differences. "The problem with this approach," claimed the critic, "as with the ‘evenhanded’ analysis of the Cold War, is that it treats all players as fundamentally the same and thereby loses touch with reality." But Zakaria believed that rigorous judgments of both sides are not part of Gaddis's purpose: "He attempts to explain events as they took place, when they took place, through the participants' eyes. He tries to free himself from ‘the tyranny of knowing what came next,’ exploring the very real alternatives that policymakers chose among." "Most of all," added the critic, "he resists judging the past from the perspective of the present." "Gaddis does not offer simplicities in print," noted Beisner, "so it would be better for readers to discover for themselves not only his answers but how he has arrived at them. They will discover at work a restless mind and a historian shrewder than most in using the work of his cousins in political science." In addition, concluded Beisner, readers "will find a sober and skeptical view of human nature."
With the end of the Cold War, the sealed archives of Moscow and other capitals of Eastern Bloc countries came under inspection by scholars who began to examine them for historical content. In We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, which studies this period through the Cuban Missile Crisis, Gaddis compares new conclusions with older suppositions in considering a number of questions, including who was most responsible for the five decades of confrontation between the West and the Soviets and whether the United States could have done anything to halt it. He comes to his conclusion in writing that "once Stalin wound up at the top in Moscow, and once it was clear his state would survive the war, then it looks … clear that there was going to be a Cold War whatever the West did."
Peter W. Rodman wrote in National Review that "as the book starts out, the reader may be uneasy: Gaddis speaks of the United States and Soviet Union as both constructing ‘empires’ out of the ruins of post-Hitler Europe. But instead of plunging into the swamp of moral equivalency, Gaddis takes the narrative swiftly in the opposite direction. What is striking about the American ‘empire,’ he shows, is its inadvertence, if not reluctance, and, more important, the degree to which it was formed at the insistence of its European clients, who eagerly sought American help and protection." An Economist reviewer noted that Gaddis feels the United States won the Cold War "because of its virtues." The reviewer went on to write: "America was more skillful at managing the politics of the relationship with communism, he believes, because American leaders, trained in the negotiations and accommodations of a democratic society, were simply more adroit."
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past draws from a series of lectures delivered by Gaddis at Oxford. New York Times contributor Richard Bernstein wrote that "it is the components … rather than its overall finding, that provide the book's greatest rewards. I'd even say that the guidelines Mr. Gaddis lays down for the writing of history end up, despite some fairly technical language, being so commonsensical that you think you would follow them anyway, even without benefit of his reflections. But what Mr. Gaddis does is make you aware of the inner workings of that common sense, turning your knowledge from passive and intuitive to active and practical."
Surprise, Security, and the American Experience is based on a three-lecture series Gaddis delivered at the New York Public Library. Gaddis examines security policy in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, with policy dating back to 1817, when Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, following the burning of Washington by the British during the War of 1812, set down the three principles that comprise the strategy of President George W. Bush. Adams asserted the right of preemption in allowing Andrew Jackson to invade Florida, a Spanish possession; he reinforced the position of unilateralism with the Monroe Doctrine; and he emphasized the need for regional hegemony, and the United States as the dominant North American power. Gaddis notes that these principles were modified by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, among other changes, discarded unilateralism for multilateralism, not as a relinquishing of power but to bring in other countries that could help the United States reach its goals.
Jack F. Matlock, Jr., wrote in the New York Times Book Review that "while it is clear, as Gaddis suggests, that some modification of Roosevelt's approach is necessary to deal with twenty-first-century threats, we cannot be confident that the Bush administration's reversion to unilateralism and preemption will work." Matlock noted that one of the questions Gaddis raises is "whether the administration's domestic policy is consistent with its grand strategy. Gaddis notes the contrast between Roosevelt's call for national sacrifice to win World War II and Bush's decision to place the burden of today's wars only on those who do the fighting—and on future generations that must pay the bills. One has to wonder whether the administration's fiscal and energy policies are consistent with the goal of maintaining American global predominance."
Booklist contributor Ray Olson commented that George W. Bush attempted Roosevelt's multilateralism in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, "but ultimately elected preemption (‘shock and awe’) in the service of global hegemony." U.S. News & World Report contributor Michael Barone remarked that Gaddis's thesis is that Bush "has made as bold a transformation in American foreign policy as John Quincy Adams and Franklin D. Roosevelt did in their times."
Foreign Affairs contributor G. John Ikenberry called the author's 2005 book, The Cold War: A New History, a "beautifully written panoramic view of the Cold War." Fred L. Greenstein wrote in Political Science Quarterly that "the volume is laden with the pronouncements of a scholar who has been long steeped in his subject."
Published in England simply as The Cold War, the book takes a comprehensive look at the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, beginning with the end of World War II and the fall of Berlin, Germany, and ending with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The author analyzes the strategic dynamics involved in the war and profiles many of the two countries' leaders who played major roles in the most crucial events of the time period covered, including Joseph Stalin, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Written for a general audience, the book includes much new information gathered from various archives in Russia, East Europe, and China. Much of this information has been made available to scholars only in the twenty-first century.
"Aimed at a new generation, this book is nonetheless enlightening for all generations," wrote Vanessa Bush in a review of The Cold War in Booklist. Pointing to the "War on Terrorism" of the twenty-first century, Washington Monthly contributor Nicholas Thompson noted: "Let's hope this book gets passed around the White House. It's brisk enough for those busy people to read, and there are important lessons that should be heeded if we want the current war to turn out as well as the last one."
In 2005, a revised and expanded edition of Strategies of Containment was published. The major feature of the new edition is an expanded chapter that focuses on Rea- gan and Gorbachev and a new epilogue. Michael J. Carson, writing in Reviewer's Bookwatch, called the new edition "a welcome scrutiny of history."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gaddis, John Lewis, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Al Ahram Weekly, January 25-31, 2007, Ezzat Ibrahim, "Age of Pandemonium," interview with author.
American Political Science Review, March, 1998, Miroslav Nincic, review of We Now Know, p. 259.
American Scholar, winter, 2006, Stephen J. Whitfield, "Casting a Cold Eye on the Cold War: Did We Avoid Armageddon out of Good Sense or Dumb Luck?," review of The Cold War: A New History, p. 134.
American Scientist, May-June, 2003, Lewis Pyenson, review of The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past, p. 265.
Armed Forces and Society, summer, 1998, James Burk, review of We Now Know, p. 603.
Booklist, February 15, 2004, Ray Olson, review of Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, p. 1008; November 15, 2005, Vanessa Bush, review of The Cold War, p. 17.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November-December, 1997, Raymond L. Garthoff, review of We Now Know, p. 58.
Chronicle of Higher Education, June 25, 1999, Anna Kasten Nelson, review of We Now Know, p. B4.
Commentary, January, 1988, Donald Kagan, review of The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War; September, 1997, Gabriel Schoenfeld, review of We Now Know, p. 62; May, 2004, Max Boot, review of Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, p. 73; February, 2006, Richard Pipes, "Back in the USSR," review of The Cold War, p. 66.
Contemporary Review, December, 1997, Michael F. Hopkins, review of We Now Know, p. 323; spring, 2007, Jonathan Colman, "International Relations since 1945," review of The Cold War, p. 101.
Economist, March 15, 1997, review of We Now Know, p. S4; January 7, 2006, "The Blinking and the Blinkered; 20th-Century History," review of The Cold War, p. 73.
Europe-Asia Studies, July, 1998, Paul Dukes, review of We Now Know, p. 922.
Foreign Affairs, March-April, 2006, G. John Ikenberry, review of The Cold War.
Guardian (London, England), January 28, 2006, Odd Arne Westad, "The Superpowers' Balance Sheet," review of The Cold War.
Historian, summer, 1999, William O. Walker III, review of We Now Know, p. 904.
History Today, February, 2006, Jerome Kuehl, review of The Cold War, p. 62.
International Affairs, October, 1999, William Walker, review of Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy since 1945, p. 830.
Journal of American History, March, 1998, Carolyn Eisenberg, review of We Now Know, p. 1462.
Journal of Military History, July, 2000, Michael Latham, review of Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb, p. 904.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of The Landscape of History, p. 1279; November 1, 2005, review of The Cold War, p. 1170.
Library Journal, January 1, 1982, R.W. Winks, review of Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy; August 1, 2005, Michael Rogers, review of Strategies of Containment, p. 134; November 15, 2005, Ed Goedeken, review of The Cold War, p. 76.
London Times, January 1, 2006, John Lewis, review of The Cold War.
National Interest, winter, 1997, Robert Jervis, review of We Now Know, p. 82.
National Review, December 31, 1997, Peter W. Rodman, review of We Now Know, p. 50.
New Republic, August 2, 1982, Barry Rubin, review of Strategies of Containment; May 30, 1988, Fareed Zakaria, review of The Long Peace.
New Statesman, January 23, 2006, Richard Gott, "The Great Divide: Richard Gott on an Unashamedly Biased Account of the US-Soviet Stand-off," review of The Cold War, p. 53.
New York Review of Books, October 9, 1997, Tony Judt, review of We Now Know, p. 39.
New York Times, October 30, 2002, Richard Bernstein, review of The Landscape of History, p. E7.
New York Times Book Review, September 10, 1972, review of The United States and the Origins of the Cold War: 1941-1947; January 17, 1982, Joseph S. Nye, review of Strategies of Containment; November 15, 1987, Charles S. Maier, review of The Long Peace; May 25, 1997, Priscilla Johnson McMillan, review of We Now Know, p. 20; November 17, 2002, Alan Brinkley, review of The Landscape of History, p. 50; March 21, 2004, Jack F. Matlock, Jr., review of Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, p. 13; January 15, 2006, Michael Beschloss, "Look Back in Relief," review of The Cold War, p. 9.
Observer (London, England), January 8, 2006, Tim Gardam, "When Worlds Collide," review of The Cold War.
Political Science Quarterly, summer, 2006, Fred I. Greenstein, review of The Cold War, p. 321.
Publishers Weekly, November 14, 2005, review of The Cold War, p. 60.
Quadrant, November, 2006, Peter Coleman, "Cold War Blues: With One Eye on Baghdad," p. 84.
Reviewer's Bookwatch, November, 2005, Michael J. Carson, review of Strategies of Containment.
Reviews in American History, December, 1997, Michael S. Sherry, review of We Now Know, p. 531.
Spectator, January 14, 2006, David Caute, "The Most Charitable Interpretation," review of The Cold War, p. 35.
U.S. News & World Report, March 8, 2004, Michael Barone, review of Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, p. 37.
Washington Monthly, April, 2006, Nicholas Thompson, "How We Won: John Lewis Gaddis's New History of the Cold War Should Be Next on the President's Reading List," p. 51.
Washington Post Book World, February 21, 1982, Carl Kaysen, review of Strategies of Containment; November 8, 1987, Robert L. Beisner, review of The Long Peace.
Wilson Quarterly, summer, 1997, Thomas Blanton, review of We Now Know, p. 90.
Wisconsin Bookwatch, November, 2005, review of Strategies of Containment.
CNN.com,http://www.cnn.com/ (April 4, 2008), "Cold War Chat: Professor John Lewis Gaddis."
Public Broadcasting Service Frontline Web site,http://www.pbs.org/ (April 4, 2008), "Interview: John Lewis Gaddis."
Yale University Web site,http://www.yale.edu/ (April 4, 2008), faculty profile of author.