I am a scholar of American history, and particularly America in the world. My first book was a history of American nation-building during the Vietnam War and is available from Cornell University Press. I am currently working on a second book, a history of how trade and immigration have impacted debates over American national identity. I write widely for popular media as well as academic publications. I previously held a research fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School, a teaching fellowship at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, and a civil service appointment in the British Cabinet Office.
I am a historian of the United States, and particularly of U.S. foreign and security policy. While my work is mainly historical in nature, it is driven by a fascination with how the contemporary is shaped by the past.
I have published extensively on the Vietnam War, including a book, To Build as well as Destroy: The American Experience of Nation-Building in South Vietnam. This book analyzes the ideas which underlay U.S. attempts to foster the emergence of a non-Communist regime in South Vietnam. It shows that the U.S. nation-building effort in South Vietnam was the most expansive and best-resourced in U.S. history, but that it still failed. On this basis, it argues against the involvement of the U.S. in expansive nation-building efforts in the future.
My current book project is in its early stages. It explores how debates over American national identity – particularly, the futures that Americans have desired or feared for their country – have been influenced by the forces of globalization, particularly trade and immigration. By combining the exploration of a number of historical episodes with an analysis of contemporary debates, it seeks to demonstrate the centrality of the encounter between America and the outside world in the development of American national identity.
I am a passionate teacher and public communicator. In 2019, I received the Institute for History’s biannual teaching prize, the Carla Musterd Award. I was also previously nominated for the teaching prize of the Faculty of Humanities. I consider public communication to be a vital part of a scholar’s role and frequently publish opinion pieces and op-eds. My writing has been published on every continent, including in The Guardian, Foreign Affairs, The Los Angeles Times, and many more.
Prior to working at Leiden, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School, a Teaching Fellow at the UK Defence Academy, and a civil servant in the British Cabinet Office. I received my graduate training at the University of Cambridge and King’s College London.