Legro, Jeffrey W. 1960–

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Legro, Jeffrey W. 1960–


Born April 21, 1960. Education: Middlebury College, B.A., University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D.


Office—Department of Politics, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400787, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4787.


University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Compton Professor of World Politics, and codirector of Governing America in a Global Era Program at Miller Center of Public Affairs. Former faculty member at University of Minnesota, and Fulbright professor at China Foreign Affairs University, Beijing, 2002-2003.


Fellowships from Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. Institute of Peace, Ford Foundation, Institute of Global Conflict and Cooperation, Institute for the Study of World Politics, and Olin Institute and Center for Science and International Affairs.



Cooperation under Fire: Anglo-German Restraint during World War II, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1995.

Rethinking the World: Great Power Strategies and International Order, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 2005.

(Editor, with Melvyn P. Leffler) To Lead the World: American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to periodicals, including Foreign Policy, American Political Science Review, International Organization, International Security, and American Journal of Political Science. Member of editorial board, Washington Quarterly.


Jeffrey W. Legro is a specialist on international relations. He is a professor of political studies at the University of Virginia and has acted as a consultant to various publishers, foundations, government agencies, and other organizations. His writings include Cooperation under Fire: Anglo-German Restraint during World War II, Rethinking the World: Great Power Strategies and International Order, and To Lead the World: American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine.

In his first book, Cooperation under Fire, Legro uses the example of the Anglo-German fighting during World War II as a case study in examining the phenomenon of enemy combatants agreeing to forego the use of certain weapons available to them. He also backs up his arguments with some examples from U.S.-Soviet relations. Legro begins by asking why nations would cooperate in any way when they are bent on destroying each other. World War II is generally regarded as the most violent, unrestrained combat in history, for example, and yet there were still areas where enemies agreed to mutual restraint. The author's thesis states that this cannot be explained by international conventions for warfare nor by any possible military advantages that might come from the agreement. He believes the answer can only be found in an examination of the culture of military organizations.

Legro looks at restraints that were exercised concerning the use of chemical weapons in battle, submarine operations, and strategic bombing. He believes that one component of restraint is understood by examining the military traditions of a given nation, which determine its acceptance or rejection of certain weapons. Great Britain, for example, has a longstanding tradition of battleships in its navy. Although Great Britain could have benefitted from more use of submarines, those craft were overlooked as insignificant by key decision-makers in England. The author also examines the "realist" perspective, which states that such restraint somehow serves some mutual national interests, and the "institutionalist" view, which credits moral norms as providing a check on what weaponry would be used. Whatever the correct explanation, Legro looks at the restraint shown by both sides in these areas as a hopeful commentary on human nature.

"The evidence marshaled in this book elegantly traces the influence of tradition on preferences, finding only minor historical anomalies confronting this perspective," stated Lisa L. Martin in the American Political Science Review. Martin also said: "The research in this book is impressive, drawing on both secondary and archival materials. Legro has uncovered evidence about state motives and decision making that will have to be taken seriously by those who wish to understand either the history of warfare during the twentieth century or the problem of international cooperation during war."

"Legro has done a great deal of research, and pulled together some fascinating material," commented George Quester in Society. "[His] analysis of the 1939-1940 restraints on aerial bombardment is also richly detailed and carefully researched." Quester concluded: "Legro is to be congratulated for delivering a fascinating and thought-provoking book, fun to read, and fair-minded throughout." Another positive assessment came from Malcolm H. Murfett in the English Historical Review. He wrote that Legro's analysis of his case studies "is most informative and very revealing, so his evidence and conclusions should be given careful consideration by war planners, strategic specialists and politicians alike." Murfett wished a bibliography had been included, and noted some errors in the footnotes and text, but concluded: "Despite these technical shortcomings, however, Cooperation under Fire is well worth reading and deserves to be on the shelves of any self-respecting tertiary institution that runs courses in the fields of modern international history and politics."

In Rethinking the World, Legro examines how world orders come into being when foreign policy ideas shift. In this book, his case studies involve the continuity of isolationist foreign policy in the United States following World War I, and the extreme change in foreign policy following World War II. His study leads him to conclude that states will only act on foreign policy change if they see failure as a possible outcome of their current positions. Reviewing the book for the Political Science Quarterly, Stacie E. Goddard wrote: "Legro persuasively argues that collective ideas are necessary factors in international change. However, it is unclear what exactly is being transformed in Legro's account: when actors ‘rethink the world,’ do they change foreign policy ideas or foreign policy itself?"

Legro acted as the editor, with Melvyn P. Leffler, in compiling To Lead the World, a collection of writings from eleven American writers offering their ideas on how the United States can best use its power and restore its international reputation following the years of the Iraq War. Contributors include Samantha Power, Francis Fukuyama, David Kennedy, and Robert Kagan. Their subjects include how to respond to the chief threats facing the United States, how to establish appropriate foreign policy goals, how to cope with the national debt, and how to ensure national security.



American Historical Review, October 1, 1996, Gerhard L. Weinberg, review of Cooperation under Fire: Anglo-German Restraint during World War II, p. 1212.

American Political Science Review, June 1, 1997, Lisa L. Martin, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 505.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, September 1, 1995, K. Eubank, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 196; May 1, 2006, E.A. Turpen, review of Rethinking the World: Great Power Strategies and International Order, p. 1675.

Contemporary Sociology, May 1, 1997, Elton F. Jackson, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 331.

English Historical Review, June 1, 1997, Malcolm H. Murfett, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 814.

Foreign Affairs, July 1, 1995, Eliot A. Cohen, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 138.

International Affairs, October 1, 1995, Klaus Larres, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 862.

International History Review, November 1, 1996, S.P. MacKenzie, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 961; March 1, 2007, Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, review of Rethinking the World, p. 228.

International Studies Quarterly, April 1, 1996, Philip A. Schrodt, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 112.

Political Science Quarterly, June 22, 2006, Stacie E. Goddard, review of Rethinking the World, p. 334.

Political Studies, December 1, 1996, Theo Farrell, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 1010.

Society, September 1, 1996, George Quester, review of Cooperation under Fire, p. 92.


H-German, H-Net Reviews,http://h-net.org/ (December, 1996), Milan Hauner, review of Cooperation under Fire.

Oxford University Press Web site,http://www.oup.com/ (April 16, 2008), information about To Lead the World: American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine.

University of Virginia Web site,http://www.virginia.edu/ (April 16, 2008), faculty profile.