Silverstone, Scott A. 1963–

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Silverstone, Scott A. 1963–


Born October 29, 1963, in Brunswick, ME; son of Arnold and Barbara Silverstone; married Lisa Duffy; children: Ian, Norah. Education: University of New Hampshire, B.A., 1985; George Washington University, graduate study, 1991-93; University of Pennsylvania, M.A., 1995, Ph.D., 1999. Politics: Nonpartisan. Hobbies and other interests: Mountain trail running, mountain biking, cooking, reading historical fiction.


Home—Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY. Office—Department of Social Sciences, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY 10996. E-mail—[email protected].


U.S. Navy, career officer, 1985-2000, naval flight officer, 1986-90, crisis management officer for Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, 1990-93, reserve officer, 1993-2000; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, instructor, 1996-99, assistant professor of international relations and assistant director of Christopher Browne Center for International Politics, 1999-2000; Williams College, Williamstown, MA, visiting assistant professor of international relations, 2000-01; U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY, associate professor of international relations, 2001—, faculty adviser for West Point Model United Nations, 2002—. U.S. Naval War College, analyst, summers, 1997 and 1998, adviser to the director of the Navy Warfare Development Command, 2000; Global Studies Foundation, member of board of directors, 2005—; Bard College, adjunct professor of international relations, 2007—.


International Studies Association, American Political Science Association.


Ira H. Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching, 1996, and Chimicles fellow in the teaching of writing, 1996-98, both University of Pennsylvania; Mellon Foundation grant, 1998; Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs research fellow, 2003-04.


Divided Union: The Politics of War in the Early American Republic, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 2004.

Preventive War and American Democracy, Routledge Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to books, including Understanding International Relations: The Value of Alternative Lenses, edited by Daniel J. Kaufman, Jay M. Parker, and Patrick Howell, McGraw-Hill, 2004; Defence Politics: International and Comparative Perspectives, edited by Isaiah Wilson III and James F. Forest, Routledge Press, 2008; and American National Security, 6th edition, edited by Amos A. Jordan and others, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. Contributor to periodicals, including Security Studies.


In his first book, Divided Union: The Politics of War in the Early American Republic, political scientist Scott A. Silverstone addresses the question of why the U.S. government entered into or stayed out of armed conflict with other nations in the years from 1790 to 1860. Although other writers have stressed external factors, Silverstone argues that internal factors such as regional politics and the separation of powers at the federal level as well as between federal and state governments played a decisive role. William B. Skelton in the Journal of Military History deemed the book "traditional political science at its best—clearly argued, accessibly written, and rooted in extensive historical evidence." He acknowledged that the author depends heavily on previously published materials but highlighted Silverstone's contributions to the discussion of military matters. That dependence on secondary sources, however, aroused concern for another reviewer, historian and H-Net Reviews contributor James L. Huston. Huston remarked that Silverstone draws on the work of "historians who have been out of style for over six decades" and includes few primary sources—practices avoided or even discouraged in history but relatively common in political science. "None of this is to imply that Silverstone has not consulted the recent literature," Huston admitted, pointing out that the author "certainly is abreast of the political science studies in his area." Aside from methodological issues, Huston found Divided Union "intriguing and conceptually informative" as well as an "enjoyable read." In another H-Net Reviews critique, historian John Richard Maass wrote that Silverstone's "detailed knowledge of the various crises is impressive" and summarized the book as "certainly a worthwhile addition to the historiography of the Early Republic." Donald L. Robinson in Perspectives on Politics found the work "informative and carefully argued," "engagingly written," "laudably disciplined," and, in sum, "superb."

Silverstone's second book, Preventive War and American Democracy, moves into much more recent history, addressing how the United States came to abandon its traditional position of avoiding preventive war, entering into war with Iraq with an international coalition of forces in 2003. The author attributes the shift to the emergence of a new norm that encourages the use of military power to prevent the acquisition of nuclear arms by outlaw regimes. A critic for Ethics and International Affairs called the book "involving" and commented on Silverstone's "easy command of theory." The writer summarized Preventive War and American Democracy as "a creative and penetrating defense of the power of norms to enable and restrain strategic options."

Silverstone told CA: "My research and writing are motivated by the tragic and transformative character of warfare in human history. As a student of international relations I have a strong appreciation for the fundamental role war has played in shaping our societies, our politics, and our beliefs and values. But war remains a tragic phenomenon, often uncontrollable in its effects, both physical and political. This fact must inform our debates over whether and when war is an appropriate option to deal with the most worrisome problems in world affairs. As a political scientist I want my work to be relevant to contemporary policy problems, yet to make sense of the present I find myself drawn repeatedly to write about earlier eras, an effort to find meaningful ways to reflect on contemporary problems through an exploration of history."



American Historical Review, February, 2006, Sam W. Haynes, review of Divided Union: The Politics of War in the Early American Republic, pp. 159-160.

Ethics and International Affairs, spring, 2008, review of Preventive War and American Democracy, p. 127.

Journal of Military History, April, 2005, William B. Skelton, review of Divided Union, pp. 558-559.

Journal of Peace Research, September, 2005, Scott Gates, review of Divided Union, p. 647.

Journal of Southern History, February, 2006, Samuel Watson, review of Divided Union, p. 164.

Perspectives on Politics, September, 2005, Donald L. Robinson, review of Divided Union, pp. 650-651.


H-Net Reviews, (March, 2006), John Richard Maass, review of Divided Union; (October, 2006), James L. Huston, "Republican Virtue and Foreign Affairs in the Early Republic."

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Silverstone, Scott A. 1963–

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