Ronald Pruessen

Professor Emeritus
Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2085


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

20th century US foreign policy; the role of historical research and analysis in present-day policy making.


Ronald W. Pruessen is the former Chair of the Department of History, with primary research and teaching interests in 20th century U.S. foreign policy and international relations. Early work focused on the Cold War (e.g., John Foster Dulles: To the Threshold, 1888-1952), but attention to both transatlantic relations and U.S.-China tensions evolved toward the over-arching global perspectives of post-1945 U.S. policy makers as well as the historical roots of “globalization.”

Recent publications include Fifty Years of Revolution: Perspectives on Cuba, the United States, and the World (co-edited with Soraya Castro; University Press of Florida); The Transformation of Southeast Asia: International Perspectives on Decolonization (co-edited with Marc Frey and Tan Tai Yong); and “A Globalization Moment: Franklin D. Roosevelt in Casablanca (January 1943) and the Development of ‘Development’ in U.S. Foreign Policy,” in Will Coleman, Stephen Streeter, and John Weaver, eds., Globalization and World History: Ruptures and Continuities.

Current Research Projects:

The Ahab Syndrome: The Quest for American Predominance in the 21st Century, a book setting the Bush and Obama presidencies into the context of long-established U.S. foreign policy traditions – with the contention that a lack of innovation and a failure to adequately adjust to altered circumstances explains weak and sometimes disastrous records.

United States Foreign Policy in International Perspective, an edited volume collecting the views of scholars outside the United States on the characteristics, weaknesses, and strengths of American thinking and behaviour in the early 21st century global arena. This project involves coordination of a multinational research team working in cooperation with James Goldgeier, American University/Washington, D.C.


PhD, University of Pennsylvania