I became an American historian after I got my Ph.D. in modern European history at Harvard. I had finished my dissertation on the French debt to the United States after the First World War and was teaching a freshman composition course at Harvard. Since you could teach such a course on any subject as long as you focused on writing, I decided to teach about the 1950s. To my surprise, I discovered that there was no book on McCarthyism that I could assign my students. The subject seemed too important to ignore; and, since I had decided not to pursue a career as a European historian, I was soon deep into research about the Cold War red scare. At first, I explored the impact of that red scare on the American academic community, then I expanded my purview to encompass the entire McCarthyist movement. Now, more than thirty years later, I am still at it, still exploring aspects of American political repression and American higher education.
My most recent publication is The Lost Soul of Higher Education.
I have written several books on the Cold War red scare including No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities (1986), The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents (1994, rev. ed. 2002), and Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998). My other publications range from edited collections on academic freedom, Regulating the Intellectuals: Perspectives on Academic Freedom in the 1980s (1983) and historical revisionism, Cold War Triumphalism: Exposing the Misuse of History after the Fall of Communism (2004) to Exposing the Misuse of History after the Fall of Communism. I also published my Ph.D. dissertion, The Hired Money: The French Debt to the United States, 1917-1929 (1979) and a Chinese cookbook. Most of my other published articles and essays have dealt with the same two subjects, exploring different aspects of the academic scene and Cold War political repression.
Where's My Professor? Forbes Magazine
"The Bad Old Days: How Higher Education Fared during the Great Depression" The Chronicle Review, June 26, 2009
"Subversives, Squeaky Wheels, and 'Special Obligations': Threats to Academic Freedom, 1890 - 1960" Social Research 76, no. 2 (Summer 2009)
I am working on two projects at the moment (early 2009). One is a primarily, but not entirely, historical overview of the American academic profession that focuses on the challenges to academic freedom posed by the current restructuring of the American higher education. The other, which I am working on in collaboration with Corey Robin, a political scientist from the City University of New York, is a general historically based, yet theoretical study of American political repression. Surprisingly, this is a subject that yet to be fully explored either by historians or by political theorists. We hope to show in this work how political repression in the United States actually operates and what distinguishes it from political repression in other societies.