Ma history Module Information ‘American Foreign Relations’ Synopsis

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MA History Module Information

American Foreign Relations’


This course focuses on the foreign policy of the United States in the period from 1776 to the present day. It addresses the theoretical structures which underpin American foreign relations, the theories and practices which form intellectual thought on America’s foreign affairs and embraces practical case studies which examine America’s role in the world. It considers how doctrines have shaped America’s relations with its neighbours and with the international community.


  • A critical understanding of the institutions which shape foreign relations in America

  • An appreciation and constructive understanding of intellectual thought and theory on American foreign relations

  • An understanding of selected episodes which have shaped foreign relations

  • To encourage students to embrace diverse and competing interpretations on American foreign policy

  • To encourage students to communicate effectively and analytically at this level of study

Modes of Assessment

There are two assessment issues to address for this particular option, an essay and a short report. The essay will follow conventional procedures and address one question from the list stated in this guide. The short report will comprise a short analytical evaluation of documentary material and source documents. The essay is 2500 words long, and the short report 1000 words.

You must address different areas in your two assessments. While it is possible to concentrate attention on similar eras there must not be any direct overlap or repetition of work within the assessed areas. If you have any doubts then please discuss your intentions with your tutor before you begin your research into your chosen material.


  • The nature of American foreign policy & the Monroe Doctrine in theory and practice

  • The Spanish American war and America: 1898-1914

  • America: Neutrality and isolation

  • America, Truman and the atomic bomb

  • Vietnam – its precursors and its legacy

  • Contemporary America: a neo-conservative era?


Adler, Selig., The uncertain giant 1921-1941 : American foreign policy between the wars (1965)

Ambrose, Stephen E., Rise to globalism : American foreign policy since 1938 (1993)
Anderson, Perry., The new-old world (2009)
Bacevich, A. J., American empire : the realities and consequences of U.S. diplomacy (2002)
Black, George., The good neighbor : how the United States wrote the history of Central America (1988)
Black, George., The good neighbor (1988)
Campbell, Charles S., The transformation of American foreign relations 1865-1900 (1976)
Capitanchik, David B., The Eisenhower presidency and American foreign policy (1969)
Chace, James., The consequences of the peace : the new internationalism and American foreign policy (1993)
Challener, Richard D., From isolation to containment, 1921-1952 (1970)
Colas and Saull., ed. The War on Terror and the American 'empire' after the Cold War (2006)
David Held ed., American power in the twenty-first century (2004)
Divine, Robert A., Perpetual war for perpetual peace (2000)
Dulles, Foster Rhea., Prelude to world power : American diplomatic history 1860-1900 (1965)
Dumbrell., John, Kennedy's quest for victory : American foreign policy 1961-1963 (1997)
Fabbrini, Sergio., America and its critics : virtues and vices of the democratic hyperpower (2008)
Ferguson, Niall., Colossus : the rise and fall of the American empire (2005)
Fitzgerald, James., The Cold War and beyond : US relations with Soviet and post-Soviet Russia (1995)
Gaddis, John Lewis., Surprise, security, and the American experience (2004)
Gaddis, John Lewis., Strategies of containment : a critical appraisal of American national security (2005)
Gardner, Lloyd C., Imperial America : American foreign policy since 1898 (1976)
Gilbert, Felix., To the farewell address : ideas of early American foreign policy (1970)
Goldwin, Robert A., Readings in American Foreign policy. - 2nd revised (1971)
Graebner, Norman A., Cold war diplomacy : American Foreign Policy, 1945-1960 (1962)
Hammond, Paul Y., The Cold War years : American foreign policy since 1945 (1969)
Hanhimäki, Jussi M., The flawed architect : Henry Kissinger and American foreign policy (2004)
Hogan, Michael J., America in the world : the histography of American foreign relations (1995)
Hogan, Michael J., The ambiguous legacy : U.S. foreign relations in the "American century" (1999)
Hyland, William G., Clinton's world : remaking American foreign policy (1999)
Iriye, Akira., The Cambridge history of American foreign relations Vol III (1993)
LaFeber, Walter., The American age : United States foreign policy at home and abroad (1994)
Lafeber, Walter., The American age : United States foreign policy at home and abroad (1989)
Lieber, Robert J., Eagle adrift : American foreign policy at the end of the century (1997)
Marsh, Steve., Anglo-American relations and Cold War oil : crisis in Iran (2002)
Oye, Kenneth A., Eagle resurgent? The Reagan era in American foreign policy (1987)
Paterson, Thomas G, Major problems in American foreign relations volume I (1995)
Paterson, Thomas G., Kennedy's quest for victory : American foreign policy 1961-1963 (1989)
Paterson, Thomas G., Major problems in American foreign relations volume II : since 1914 (1995)
Perkins, Bradford., The Cambridge history of American foreign relations Vol I (1993)
Ray, James Lee., American foreign policy and political ambition (2008)
Reynolds, David, From Munich to Pearl Harbor (2001)
Richardson, Louise, When allies differ : Anglo-American relations during the Suez and Falklands (1996)
Rossini, Daniela., From Theodore Roosevelt to FDR (1995)
Schulzinger, Robert D., American diplomacy in the twentieth century (1990)
Spanier, John W., American foreign policy since World War II (1991)
Suri, Jeremi., Henry Kissinger and the American century (2007)
Swansbrough, Robert H., Test by fire : the war presidency of George W. Bush (2008)
Terrill, Tom E., The tariff, politics, & American foreign policy 1874-1901 (1973)
Trask, David F., Victory without peace : American foreign relations in the twentieth century (1968)
Widenor, William C., Henry Cabot Lodge and the search for an American foreign policy (1980)
The Vietnam War
Anderson, David L., (ed.) Shadow on the White House: Presidents and the Vietnam War, 1945-1975 (1993)
Caro, Robert A., The Years of Lyndon Johnson (1983)
Chafe, William H., The Unfinished Journey: America Since WWII (1995) Chapter 10 ‘Lyndon’s War’
Cohen Warren I. and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker., (ed.) Lyndon Johnson Confronts the World: American Foreign Policy 1963-1968 (1994) especially chapters 2-6.
Crapps, Walter., (ed.) The Vietnam Reader (1991)
Davidson, Philip B., Vietnam at War: the history 1946-1975 (1991)
De Groot, Gerard J., A noble cause? : America and the Vietnam War (2000)
Draper, Theodore., Abuse of Power (1967)
Goldman, Eric F., The Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson (1969)
Herring, George C., America’s Longest War: the United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 (1979)
Higgins, Hugh., Vietnam (1975) especially Chapter 6 ‘Lyndon’s War’
Kimball, Jeffrey., Nixon’s Vietnam War (1998)
Kolko, Gabriel., Vietnam: anatomy of a war, 1940-1975 (1986)
Maclear, Michael., Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War (1981)
McMahon, Robert J., Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War 2ed (1995)
McNamara, Robert S., In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1995)
Poole, Peter A., The United States and Indochina: From FDR to Nixon (1973) especially chapters 10-15
Porter, Gareth., Vietnam: The Definitive Documentation of Human Decisions, Vols I and II (1979)
Sanders, Vivienne., The USA and Vietnam, 1945-1975 (1998)
Schandler, Herbert Y., The unmaking of a president: Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam (1977)
Thompson, Robert., No Exit from Vietnam (1969)
Warren, James A., Portrait of a tragedy : America and the Vietnam War (1990)
White, Theodore H., The Making of the President 1964 (1965)
Young, Marilyn., The Vietnam War 1945-1990 (1991)
Truman and the Bomb
Alperovitz, Gar., The Decision the Use the Atomic Bomb (1995)
Ambrose, Stephen., Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy since 1938 (1993)
Baker, Paul (ed.)., The Atomic Bomb: The Great Decision (1968)
Bernstein and Matusow., Twentieth Century America: Recent interpretations (1972) especially Part IV, Schlesinger Jr., ‘Origins of the Cold War’: Alperovitz ‘Why We Dropped the Bomb’
Brands, H.W., The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War (1993)
Chafe, William H., The Unfinished Journey: America Since WWII (1995) Chapter 3 ‘Truman and the Cold War’
Donovan, Robert J., Conflict and Crisis: The Presidency of Harry S. Truman, 1945-48 (1977)
Gaddis, John Lewis., Strategies of Containment (1982)
Hunt, Michael H., Crises in U.S. Foreign Policy (1996) especially Chapter 3, ‘Origins of the Cold War’
Kolko, Joyce and Gabriel., The Limits of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy 1945-1954 (1972)
Lacey, Michael J. (ed.)., The Truman Presidency (1989)
Lafeber, Walter., America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945-1992 (1993)
Mandelbaum, Michael., The Nuclear Question: The United States and Nuclear Weapons 1946-1976 (1979)
Moskin, Robert., Mr. Truman’s War (1996)
Nye, Joseph S. Jr. (ed.)., The Making of America’s Soviet Policy (1984)
Spanier, John., American Foreign Policy Since World War II (1985)
Truman, Harry S., Memoirs: 1945: year of decision (1955)
______________., Memoirs: 1946-1952: years of trial and hope (1956)
Woods, Randall B. and Howard Jones., Dawning of the Cold War : The United States’ Quest for Order (1991)

The Cuban Missile Crisis

Abel, Elie., The missiles of October : the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 (1969)

Chayes, Abram., Cuban missile crisis (1974)
Detzer, David., The brink : Cuban missile crisis, 1962 (1980)
Freedman, Lawrence., Kennedy's wars : Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam (2000)
Fursenko, Aleksandr., One hell of a gamble : Krushchev, Castro, Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1999)
Griffiths, John., The Cuban missile crisis (1986)
Kennedy, Robert F., 13 days : the Cuban missile crisis October 1962 (1969)
May, Ernest R. and Zelikow, Philip D., The Kennedy tapes : inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis (1997)
Nathan, James A., Anatomy of the Cuban Missile Crisis (2001)
Nathan, James A., The Cuban missile crisis revisited (1992)
Weldes, Jutta., Constructing national interests : the United States and the Cuban missile crisis (1999)
White, Mark J., Missiles in Cuba : Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro, and the 1962 crisis (1997)

Web sources
American Foreign Policy Council

Middle East Review of International Affairs

American Foreign Policy Hub

Vietnam War Documents

Cold War Documents

Foreign Affairs

Columbia University Foreign Policy Resources

National Security Archive – Cuban Missile Crisis

National Security Archive Homepage

Avalon Document Centre – Documentary evidence in law, history and diplomacy

Woodrow Wilson Centre – the Cold War

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