History 461: Studies in U.S. Diplomatic History
Fall 1997

Richard H. Immerman
Gladfelter 923
office: (215) 204-7466
home: (610) 645-5436

For more than a decade the field of U.S. Diplomatic History, or what practitioners prefer to call the History of U.S. Foreign Relations, has undergone intense introspection and self-criticism. The objective has been to reinvigorate the discipline by reducing the "sterility" associated with the Rankean tradition. Progress toward this achieving this goal is manifestly apparent. Exploiting archives in many different lands and in many different languages, contemporary scholars are asking new questions and applying interdisciplinary methodologies and novel conceptual frameworks to their investigations. These efforts have generated great excitement while at the same time expanding the parameters of--some would argue transforming and even redefining--the field itself. The end of the Cold War and fluidity of today's international environment has provided further impetus to this phenomenon, as has the release of new archives, primarily but not exclusively from behind the previous Iron and Bamboo Curtains.

The intention of this course, accordingly, is to broaden your familiarity with the historiography as well as the history of "modern" U.S. foreign relations. To begin this process you will all become intimately acquainted with Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations (and the Hunt and Leffler articles I distributed), a recently published collection of essays on what the field is all about and how we might study it. It is neither a manual nor recipe book. It should, however, stimulate your own thinking about what has, should, and will be written. Each of you will select, or I will assign, one of these "think pieces," about which you will prepare a five-to-ten-minute oral presentation at our next--September 18--meeting. You should evaluate what you consider its pros and cons, and if possible, suggest what (if any) subject areas you believe might lend themselves to the type of approach recommended by the essay's author.

In the following class--September 25--we will encounter core readings and authors. Some represent prominent schools of interpretation and/or the output of prominent scholars. Others reflect recent historiographic trends and concerns. Today, each of you will select one book from those listed for the September 25 session and write a short (maximum two-page) review of it. For assistance you should also read the preface from a long out-of-date reader and Cummings essay I distributed. They will introduce you to what historians of U.S. foreign relations mean when they refer to the orthodox (nationalist), realist, revisionist, and postrevisionist schools of interpretation, and suggest reasons for the controversies between them. Drawing on the essays for context, you should prepare five-to-ten minute oral presentations of your book reviews.

October 2 will launch our chronological and topical tour of the history of twentieth century U.S. foreign policy. We will focus most of our attention on the Cold War era, but we will trace the evolution of the "Wilsonian paradigm" and touch on the implications of the end of the Cold War. Beginning with October 2 and extending to the semester's end, two or three of you will read, in addition to the book assigned to everyone, another one from the appropriate session's list (see the bibliography I have posted on the department web page at url: http://www.temple.edu/histdept/his461.html.). In other words, for that week the "chosen" will read two books. They will in 750 words review the selection (comparing it, when appropriate, to the one we all read and any other works that come to mind).

These reviews will be the basis for an approximately fifteen minute oral presentation during which each presenter will seize the opportunity to supplement his/her review by providing illustrations from the book or otherwise to clarify or expand upon arguments. The hand-out on writing a book review is a general guide--nothing more. Feel free to follow your own instincts, as long as you don't end up with a book report. The only other prohibition are do not use the passive voice and your review should be free of all typos. Copies of this and all other reviews should be made for each class member. I will arrange to open a file at the circulation desk at the TUCC library, where copies of the review should be deposited at least one hour (eg. by 4:15) before our class meets.

This distribution and deadline is particularly critical for those in the class who will be designated "commentators." What this means is that, similar to the convention at scholarly meetings, the commentators will take about 10 minutes to analyze critically the review, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses (of both the review and the book) and posing questions about the subject matter, arguments, methodolgy, etc.). Commentators will decide among themselves which book each will critique. Because s/he probably will not have read the works under review, I will, if necessary, inject points of clarification.

Further clarification will be provided during the "audience participation" portion of the session that will follow the presentations. The "audience" (class) will be well informed because everyone will have read the generally assigned book and written a one-
review of it (those reviewing the week's supplementary books must read but need not review the one assigned to everyone). I will grade all reviews "excellent," "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" ("check +", "check", or "check -"). Needless to say, failure to submit reviews on time will adversely affect the quality of the commentaries and general discussion, and thus I will not take kindly to such behavior.

The final assignment will be a comparative review of four books from the bibliography (excluding those already reviewed in class). It should probably run eight to twelve pages. The selections should, of course, be related to one another in some manner, and I encourage you to premise your choices on a theme, topic, constituency, or even individual that interests you and/or is valuable for your area of research. For this reason let's agree that you will bounce your proposals off me. Because the papers will be due (and I mean it) Saturday, December 13 (I hope we can celebrate at my house), you should make an appointment with me, either here or at the Main Campus, no later than November 13. At this time we can also discuss your performance and progress.

As a general guideline I will base your course grade on an even division between your written and oral work. I may reward exceptional performance in one area by giving it extra weight in my computations, but don't count on it. Hence never rest on your laurels. And FYI, I am a fanatic when it comes to class participation. The success of any graduate course is a function of the collective contributions of everyone. If you are uncomfortable speaking out, or for that matter encounter any other problems, see me sooner rather than later. Under any circumstances, feel free to check with me whenever the spirit moves you.

Required Reading (available at TUCC Bookstore)

Hogan, Michael & Thomas Paterson, Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations

Ambrosius, Lloyd, Wilsonian Statecraft

Cohen, Warren, Empire Without Tears

Dallek, Robert, Franklin D. Roosevelt

Woods, Randall & Howard Jones, Dawning of the Cold War

Harper, John, American Visions of Europe

Chang, Gordon, Friends and Enemies

Stueck, William, The Korean War

Immerman, Richard, John Foster Dulles

Paterson, Thomas, Kennedy's Quest for Victory

Cohen, Warren & Nancy Tucker, Lyndon Johnson Confronts the World

Smith, Tony, America's Mission

*Sundry distributed articles and essays

Schedule of Sessions

September 8 Introduction

September 15

Class Reading: Hogan & Paterson (Hunt/Leffler)

Reviews: Selected Essays

Commentaries: Everyone

September 22

Class Reading: "Preface"/Cummings Article

Reviews: Dallek, American Style of Foreign Policy

DeConde, Ethnicity, Race, and American Foreign Policy

Gardner, Covenant with Power

Heald, Morrell and L. Kaplan, Culture and Diplomacy

LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions

Jeffreys-Jones, Changing Differences

Khong, Analogies at War

Kennan, American Diplomacy

Kolko, Roots of American Foreign Policy

Kunz, Butter and Guns

Lundestad, The American "Empire"

McCormick, America's Half-Century

Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations

Perkins, Foreign Policy and the American Spirit

Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream

Tannenbaum, The American Tradition in Foreign Policy

Trachtenberg, History and Strategy

Williams, Tragedy of American Diplomacy

Commentaries: Everyone

September 29

Class Reading: Ambrosius

Reviews: Fogelsong, America's Secret War

Knock, To End All Wars

Levin, Wilson and World Politics


October 6

Class Reading: Cohen

Reviews: Castigliola, Awkward Dominion

Dingman, Power in the Pacific

Schuker, End of French Predominance


October 13

Class Reading: Dallek

Reviews: Heinrichs, Threshold of War

Iriye, Power and Culture

Kolko, Politics of War


October 20

Class Reading: Woods & Jones

Reviews: Gaddis, Now We Know

Hogan, Marshall Plan

Leffler, Preponderance of Power


October 27

Class Reading: Harper

Reviews: Eisenberg, Drawing the Line

Schwartz, America's Germany

Wagnleitner, Coca-Colonization


November 3

Class Reading: Chang

Reviews: Christensen, Useful Allies

Westad, Cold War and Revolution

Zhang, Deterrence and Strategic Culture


November 10

Class Reading: Stueck

Reviews: Chen, China's Road to the Korean War

Foot, The Wrong War

Cumings, Origins of the Korean War, vol.1


November 17

Class Reading: Immerman (Rabe article)

Reviews: Cobbs, The Rich Neighbor Policy

Freiberger, Suez Crisis

McMahon, Cold War on the Periphery


November 24:

Class Reading: Paterson

Reviews: Beschloss, The Crisis Years

Nathan, Cuban Missile Crisis

Higgins, Perfect Failure


December 1

Class Reading: Cohen & Tucker

Reviews: Buzzanco, Masters of War

Herring, LBJ and Vietnam

Kahin, Intervention


December 8:

Class Reading: Smith

Reviews: Garthoff, Great Transition

McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State

Ninkovich, Modernity and Power