Maxwell, Kenneth 1941–

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Maxwell, Kenneth 1941–

(Kenneth Robert Maxwell)


Born February 3, 1941, in Wellington, Somersetshire, England; came to the United States in 1964; son of Kenneth Bruce and Jean (a teacher) Maxwell. Education: St. John's College, Cambridge, B.A., 1963, M.A., 1967; Princeton University, M.A., 1967, Ph.D., 1970. Hobbies and other interests: Travel (Europe, South America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa), drawing, painting.


Office—Department of History, Harvard University, CGIS South Bldg., Rm. 425, 1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, educator. University of Kansas, Lawrence, assistant professor, 1969-71, associate professor of history, 1972-73; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, member of School of Historical Studies, 1971-75; Columbia University, School of International Affairs, New York City, associate professor of history, 1976-84, senior research fellow at Research Institute of International Change, beginning 1978, director of Camoes Center, 1988-99; Tinker Foundation, New York City, program director, 1979-85; Council on Foreign Relations, New York City, senior fellow and director of Latin American Program, 1989-2004; Harvard University, visiting professor, 2004—, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, Brazilian Studies Program, director, 2006—. Adjunct associate professor of Latin American and Caribbean studies, New York University, 1978-79; visiting professor of Latin American studies, Princeton University, 1987-88. Lecturer on politics and foreign affairs to numerous organizations, including Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and Woodrow Wilson Center. Foreign Affairs, book reviewer, 1993-2004. Member of conferences, including Conference on Latin American History and Conference Group on Modern Portugal. Chairman of Committee on Brazilian Studies, 1981-83, and Committee on International Scholarly Relations, 1982-84. Consultant to various public and private institutions.


American Historical Association, Latin American Studies Association, American Portuguese Society (vice president, 1984), National Committee on American Foreign Policy (member of board of directors, 1985—; secretary, 1989—), Society of Spanish and Portuguese Historians.


Herodotus fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, 1971-72; Gulbenkian fellow, 1964; Newberry Library fellow, 1968-69; Rockefeller Foundation fellow, 1974-76; Guggenheim fellow, 1976-77; Luso-American Foundation Fellow, 1986-87; Gra Cruz, Ordem Nacional do Merito Científico, Brazil, 1996; Comendador, Ordem do Rio Branco Brazil, 1997; Grande Oficial, Ordem do Infante D. Henrique Portugal, 2004.


Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal, 1750-1808, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1973, Routledge (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor) The Press and the Rebirth of Iberian Democracy, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1983.

(Editor) Portugal: Ten Years after the Revolution, Research Institute on International Change, Columbia University (New York, NY), 1984.

(Coeditor) Portugal in the Nineteen Eighties: The Dilemmas of Democratic Consolidation, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1986.

(Editor, with Michael H. Haltzel) Portugal: Ancient Country, New Democracy, Wilson Center (Washington, DC), 1990.

(Editor, with Scott C. Monje) Portugal, the Constitution and the Consolidation of Democracy, 1976-1989, Camoes Center (New York, NY), 1991.

(With Steven Speigel) The New Spain: From Isolation to Influence, Council on Foreign Relations Press (New York, NY), 1994.

The Making of Portuguese Democracy, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1995.

Pombal, Paradox of the Enlightenment, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1995.

Chocolate, piratas e outros malandros: ensaios tropicais, Paz e Terra (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 1999.

Mais malandros: ensaios tropicais e outros, Paz e Terra (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 2002.

Naked Tropics: Essays on Empire and Other Rogues, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to numerous books, including D. Alden, editor, The Colonial Roots of Modern Brazil, University of California Press, 1973; George Schwab, editor, European Communism, Cyrco Press, 1980; Erik Hoffmann and Frederic Fleron, Jr., editors, The Conduct of Soviet Foreign Policy, Aldine, 1980; O'Donnell and Phillippe Schmitter, editors, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule, Johns Hopkins Press, 1988; and H.M. Scott, editors, Enlightened Absolutism: Reform and Reformers in Later Eighteenth-Century Europe, University of Michigan Press, 1990. Also contributor to Second International Conference on the Portuguese Economy, 1980. Contributor to newspapers and journals, including Dissent, New York Times, New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, and Wilson Review. Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal, 1750-1808 has been translated into Portuguese.


Kenneth Maxwell is a historian of Portuguese, Spanish, and Latin American affairs (specializing in Brazil). He is the author of books on the subject and articles for scholarly journals. The director of the Brazilian Studies Program at Harvard University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Maxwell is a well-respected authority in his field.

Maxwell once told CA: "After graduating from Cambridge I spent a year in Europe, eventually living six months both in Madrid and Lisbon, where I learned the languages and wrote for local newspapers. At graduate school I studied Portuguese-Brazilian relations during the period leading up to Brazilian independence. I then spent two years in Brazil researching Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal, 1750-1808, which when translated became a best seller in Brazil in 1987. I have visited Portugal many times since 1963 and covered the Portuguese Revolution and decolonialization of the Portuguese territories in Africa."

Maxwell's Conflicts and Conspiracies, originally published in 1973, was reissued in 2004. Reviewing the latter edition, Historian contributor Shawn W. Miller noted that "Maxwell's central objective is to explain Brazil's unusual independence, which was nonrevolutionary, nonfragmenting, and promonarchical." Miller went on to explain: "The study embraces the intellectual and economic relations of three continents, as well as the factional and familial connections of a provincial elite." Miller also commented that when the book was originally published, it was met with a chorus of acclaim from professional historians. "Even after three decades, these accolades largely hold true, which justifies the work's republication," Miller observed.

In The New Spain: From Isolation to Influence, Maxwell and his coauthor, Steven Spiegel, provide a "concise and insightful study of contemporary Spain," according to Europe contributor Peter Rashish. Foreign Affairs reviewer Fritz Stern found The New Spain to be "a splendidly compact account of Spain's spectacular transition from Francoism to a modern democracy." Jose M. Magone, writing in West European Politics, termed the work "a quick and well-researched introduction into the development of Spanish politics since its transition to democracy in 1975-78."

Maxwell turns his attention to Portugal in The Making of Portuguese Democracy, a volume that traces the Portuguese transition to democracy, beginning in 1974, following the overthrow of strongman Antonio de Oliveira Salazar by a group of army officers. Maxwell shows that, unlike the transition to democracy taking place in Greece and Spain at about the same time, Portugal's transition had a revolutionary character to it. American Political Science Review writer Walter C. Opello, Jr., termed Maxwell's study "a vivid, richly detailed account of this attempted, but eventually unsuccessful, revolution." Similarly, Stanley Hoffman, writing in Foreign Affairs thought The Making of Portuguese Democracy was "a fascinating account, succinct yet comprehensive, of the turmoil that followed the April 1974 coup." Magone, writing in West European Politics, found the same work an "excellent book."

Maxwell shows the breadth of his knowledge of Portuguese and Brazilian matters in works as diverse as Pombal, Paradox of the Enlightenment and Naked Tropics: Essays on Empire and Other Rogues, a collection of his newspaper articles for a Brazilian newspaper and of essays originally published in the New York Review of Books. In the former title, Maxwell provides "a scholarly assessment of Pombal [that] has long been needed," Hamish Scott noted in History Today. The Marques de Pombal was chief minister of Dom Jose of Portugal during the mid-eighteenth century. "Pombal's ministry saw the rebuilding and modernization of Lisbon and other cities after the earthquake of 1755 and significant reform of the Church, the educational system, censorship, the army, the economy, race relations and the colonies," explained Christopher Storrs in the English Historical Review. Storrs went on to comment: "The excellent bibliography, with its evaluation of recent Portuguese work and suggestions for further research, will be extremely useful to those wishing to probe further." Similar praise came from Scott, who wrote: "Professor Maxwell's study is one of the most important books on the European ancien regime to have appeared during the past decade." Reviewing Naked Tropics in Foreign Affairs, Marshall Eakin called this collection of essays "the fruit of 40 years of transatlantic travels and study, exposing the reader to many facets of the Luso-Brazilian world and its most astute historical interpreter."

Maxwell wrote: "I continue to be interested in historical studies, but I also work and write on contemporary international affairs, especially on relationships between the developed and the developing world. Journalism and history, though separate types of enterprises which require different methodologies, nonetheless can strengthen one another. I have certainly found this to be the case."



American Political Science Review, June, 1996, Walter C. Opello, Jr., review of The Making of Portuguese Democracy, p. 457.

English Historical Review, June, 1997, Christopher Storrs, review of Pombal, Paradox of the Enlightenment, p. 772.

Europe, November, 1994, Peter Rashish, review of The New Spain: From Isolation to Influence, p. 48.

Foreign Affairs, July 1, 1994, Fritz Stern, review of The New Spain, p. 170; March 1, 1997, Stanley Hoffmann, review of The Making of Portuguese Democracy, p. 188; September-October, 2003, Marshall Eakin, review of Naked Tropics: Essays on Empire and Other Rogues.

Historian, spring, 2006, Shawn W. Miller, review of Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal, 1750-1808.

History Today, March, 1997, Hamish Scott, review of Pombal, Paradox of the Enlightenment p. 52.

West European Politics, October, 1996, Jose M. Magone, review of The New Spain, p. 843; January, 1997, Jose Magone, review of The Making of Portuguese Democracy, p. 259.


David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, Web site, (March 15, 2008), "Director, Brazil Studies Program."

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Maxwell, Kenneth 1941–

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